Laval-sur-le-lac is one of most prosperous districts in the province of Quebec and it’s in this affluent environment that the private golf club of the same name was formed back in 1917. Willie Park Junior laid out the original 18-hole Green course, with Howard Watson and Graham Cooke each adding nine holes to the Blue course in more recent times.
The club has hosted the Canadian Amateur championships twice (in 1934 and 1978), the Canadian Open once (in 1962) and the second edition of the Canada Cup (which preceded the World Cup of golf) in 1954, with each of these prestigious events being held on the Green course.
Shortly into the new millennium, a decision was made to upgrade the lesser Blue layout. After considering Rees Jones, who had just carried out some work at nearby Royal Montreal, the club instead hired the design partnership of Mike Weir and Ian Andrew, who had worked for some time as the restoration architect on the Green course.
The work entailed altering the routing of many of the holes, removing a significant number of fairway bunkers and modifying green side traps to integrate new grass surrounds. It’s a course makeover that’s been described by one commentator as “subtle, smart and simple”.
Highlight holes include the par four 5th, where a couple of fairway bunkers have to be carried en route to the green, the short 7th, which has had a fairway bunker added to tighten up the landing area and the long, tough par four closing hole.
Architect Ian Andrews kindly provided us with the following quote:
The project involved the re-routing of half the holes to address everything from safety issues to blind shots. While some existing corridors were re-used to give the course a mature feel, none of the original architecture remains.
One aspect that played an important influence in the re-development of this course was the desire from multiple interests to have it available to host a Canadian Open. While that was an exciting prospect, Mike and I focused on building a golf course that would still test the decision making and skills of the best players, but would remain first and foremost a fun course for members’ daily play.
We thought it would be more interesting to encourage aggressive play and the potential of low scores so we decided to build challenging green sites very similar to courses like Royal Melbourne and Shinnecock Hills where the middle of the green remains quite receptive to member play, but many of the edges are very dangerous and often run away into difficult recovery positions.
The key was surrounding the greens with nothing but
short grass. On courses with rough, a near miss is contained very close to the
green for an easy chip but, with this approach, even the near miss is going to
run out and away to a much tougher recovery shot. There is now a far greater
premium placed on the approach and not being overly aggressive.