Paul Desmarais – one of Canada’s richest men – and Jean Monty, a business associate, financed the exciting Memphrémagog golf project in 2007 when they commissioned respected architect Tom McBroom to fashion a course on rugged property in southern Quebec on behalf of an ultra-select membership of less than 50 golfers.
Set out within a tumbling landscape where the routing allows several spectacular changes in elevation, Magog (as those in the know call it) is already regarded as one of McBroom’s best designs though some have criticized the greens for their severe undulations.
It’s these challenging putting surfaces – coupled with an overall course length that’s more in keeping with a tournament layout – that have caused consternation for one or two of the chosen few who have managed a round on the hallowed turf here.
In truth though, so few golfers have had the opportunity to play here, it’s hard to evaluate yet just how good the layout is in relation to other top courses in Quebec. Seasoned commentators think it is way better than Mount Bruno, Laval-sur-le-lac and Beaconsfield. But can it stand comparison with the likes of Royal Montreal, one of the Canadian golfing greats? Only time will tell.
Thomas McBroom, course architect, kindly provided the following passage:
The Memphrémagog Club located near the postcard village of Magog in the heart of the Eastern Townships is destined to be one of the most exclusive and enchanting private golf clubs in the world. Envisioned and conceived by a small group of Montreal businessmen who love the game, the Club is open only to 45 like-minded members.
Perched on a wooded slope overlooking Lake Memphrémagog, the golf course routing twists and turns its way through the landscape in a magical way. Designed at over 7,600 yards, the course is played from five sets of tees for maximum flexibility and is remarkably playable.
A signature design element is the strong and dramatic bunkering, done in a classical rugged style that makes the course seem timeless and natural - as if it has always been there.
Memphrémagog is a wonderful, walking course with the holes blending and flowing seamlessly from one to the next. There is a wonderful variety of playable holes featuring well articulated risk/reward strategies that allow the course to be played aggressively and conservatively.
Anchoring the course is a beautiful Clubhouse offering
great views out over the golf course and Lake Memphrémagog.
After far too long, the land border finally re-opened into Canada. It was an early morning start from Cape Cod, but upon entering the province of Quebec, the wait was finally over. The quaint town of Magog is blessed with a beautiful setting, and it’s only fitting that one of Canada’s most exclusive clubs is in the neighbourhood. My understanding is that the club now has 57 members, each of them treated like royalty. There have been many occasions in my life where I’ve felt truly privileged to be somewhere, and I can add Memphremagog to that list without hesitation. Tom MacBroom has a stellar portfolio, especially in Canada, and I loved what I saw architecturally at Memphremagog – especially the green complexes. There is natural fescue across the course and several enjoyable changes in elevation as you traverse this very walkable property. The stretch of 6-8 on the front was especially enjoyable as you head downhill and then encounter a diverse collection of holes around a lake. The back-nine starts off with an epic elevated tee-shot that whistles downhill and moves from left to right. The inward nine continues to ooze quality around an endless integration with nature. It’s a solid reminder that golf is a walking sport. I enjoyed hearing about the continued tree clearance on certain holes to open up views and give you a sense of location. With such a low level of play, it’s understandable that the playing surfaces were delightful, and the conditions were very firm. Despite being around 2 hours east of Montreal, every golfer I subsequently met in the Montreal area consistently reported how high they regard Memphremagog, and I couldn’t help but agree. It’s a hidden treasure chest among the maples.