The Club at North Halton started out as Cedar Crest in 1914, when two farms were first purchased then George Cumming was called in to lay out an initial 9-hole course. This modest golf facility operated for forty years, until a new club was formed and Bob Moote’s design firm expanded the layout to eighteen. Doug Carrick has since prepared a new millennium master plan for the club.
Today, the layout extends to 6,545 yards from the back markers, playing to a par of 72, with holes laid out as two returning nines. Water comes into play on several occasions: most notably in the form of a pond fronting the 9th green and creeks crossing the fairway on the par four 11th, the par four 14th and par three 17th .
Feature holes include the right doglegging par four 5th (rated stroke index 1); the par five 8th (with the green positioned behind a protecting creek); the 559-yard 16th (the longest of the three par fives on the back nine); and the tough par five finisher, where the prevailing wind is often against on this uphill home hole.
Don’t let the first four holes at The Club at North Halton lull you into a false sense of security. On the top of the plateau you have more wiggle room but once you get into the valley area that’s when the real challenge begins.
The greens are massive, extremely fast and in excellent shape. They appear to only have subtle breaks with minimal undulations, but I found myself putting well past the hole on a couple of slippery downhillers. Unless you have a great short game or figure out the speed quickly, you’ll be in for a bucket of 3-putts.
The par-4 5th hole sets the stage. From an elevated tee area, your drive needs to favour the two large bunkers on the left on this downhill dogleg right. However, if you are too far right, you might be blocked out by a well-forested area.
There could be many signature holes at North Halton, but I would put the 11th at the top of my list. Your tee shot from a severely elevated position needs to avoid the huge bunker on the left but do not stray too far right where the creek will come into play. From there this dogleg left forces you to carry over a river plus avoid the three greenside bunkers.
There are several intimating holes but my most memorable is the 16th. This downhill 528-yard par-5 (silver tees) appears reachable but the narrow well-forested fairway is less than 30 yards wide. A knee knocker for sure.
The 18th hole is a 525-yards (Silver tees) but it’s all uphill and typically into the prevailing winds and dense bush forest runs 300-yards down on the right side with no chance of recovery. On the left side the rough slopes severely to the right. You are left with a narrow landing area that is only 25 yards wide. Hit a straight drive or err to the left side and hope your ball will funnel back onto the fairway. From there you must hit your second shot inside the 130-yard marker to have a clear chance of seeing the pin on this dogleg right.
The Club at North Halton is a member equity course. Unlike most country clubs you find elsewhere, this layout is a shot makers course with some very tight and unforgiving holes if you spray the ball. However, I could play here repeatedly and not tire of it over time. It’s tough but fair.
Dave Finn is golf travel writer and photographer from Canada. To follow his adventures, visit www.golftravelandleisure.com