According to James A. Barclay’s book, The Toronto Terror, “Stanley Thompson was contracted from time to time by Canada’s National Park Bureau to visit one or more of the parks’ golf courses and to report on their condition. In 1938 he was contracted to lay out new courses in two of those parks and at the same time there was talk of a longer term contract under which he would make regular visits to all park courses and report on their state and on any changes he deemed necessary.”
A decade later, Thompson was engaged by The Niagara Parks Commission to set out an 18-hole course close to the swirling waters of Niagara River Whirlpool and Gorge, and this layout opened on 2nd July 1951 with an exhibition match between Stan Leonard and Bob Gray from Canada versus Cary Middlecoff and Jimmy Demaret from the United States. Who would have thought on the opening day that the new golf facility would eventually have one million rounds played on it by the mid-1980s?
Today’s course measures 7,019 yards from the back markers and plays to a par of 72. The front nine features back to back par fives at the 509-yard 4th and 536-yard 5th whilst the back nine is somewhat unconventionally configured with three par threes, three par fours and three par fives. As you might imagine with a Thompson course, the five short holes at 3, 6, 12, 14 and 17 are all excellent par threes, each of them suitably bunkered in the old master’s inimitable style.
Whirlpool is a great municipal golf course, one of the best in Canada. Stanley Thompson worked some magic on this land to create a tight but easily playable golf course anyone can enjoy. A classic Stanley design which has several long Par 3's, including the great Par 3 3rd, and a few shorter Par 4's (most prominently the excellent 2nd and 16th holes).
Stanley's use of a unique hill on the course allowed him to station greens 5, 11, 15 and the upper tee box on 6 together in a small portion of land without any interference from any of the other holes, which is a nice feature of the property.
In summary, Whirlpool is one of Canada's best municipal owned and run courses around. If you are in the area it is well worth it to make a point to play at this course. Paired with one of Battlefield or Usshers Creek at Legends not far down the road would make this a great day of golf.
Played in a chilly day before 2020 season closing. Enjoyed its easy walk. A classic course with well placed bunkers. 4 of 5 par three holes are long (over 200 yards from blue tee). These high raised greens in hole 9, 18 are legends. It's also fun to see a family of deer were running in fairway, and a woodpecker was knocking out near green. By the way, when I set the ball at 18th tee deck, I thought the ball could land in the US land if hooked 90 degree.
A very pretty course with a fair forgiving design fairways. This amount of forgiveness perhaps slightly dilutes the challenge of the course but it's still an enjoyable experience. Having said that, straying from these wide fairways will still result in a difficult recovery option. As is common for the Niagara Parks course the maintenance isn't perfect but the layout makes up for it.
Best Hole: 2- A solid par 4 with trees lining both sides of the fairway before a pond comes into play roughly 100 yards from the green.