Located at Caledon, in the Credit River valley, an hour’s drive northwest of Toronto, Osprey Valley boasts three 18-hole courses, the most established of which is the Heathlands course.
Heathlands was the creation of Toronto architect Doug Carrick in 1992 when he took an uninspiring, largely flat, former gravel quarry and fashioned a man-made, links-like, 18 holes. It joins Angus Glen, King Valley and Greystone as renowned Carrick designs in Ontario.
Carrick says his design philosophy is built on playability – “that’s one of the most important aspects… a second aspect would be strategy, in terms of making people think of how they are going to attack every hole, on every shot.”
Heathlands may not be as celebrated as the nearby Devil’s Paintbrush course, nevertheless, its combination of bold green contours, pot bunkers, feeder slopes, backstops and hollows all make this a terrific golf course which is, above all else, fun to play.
The 367-yard, short par four 4th has an elevated green and no bunker in sight but the simplicity of the hole is the key to the strength of Heathlands. No bunkers to be found either at the 451-yard, par four 6th which is normally played into the wind and the approach has to be played through a swale to reach the green. The tee shot at the 561-yard, par five 11th must carry water before the hole continues along a valley, threading through a number of bunkers. An old stonewall adds character to the 412-yard, par four 15th where the best line is down the right side of the fairway. The 196-yard, par three 16th is easy enough to hit but can you hold on the correct level of the three-tiered green?
The Hoot, a wastelands style course and the Toot, a park-like layout, were added to the property ten years after The Heathlands opened and they combine to form a formidable three-course layout at one venue. All courses are efficiently marked, with yardage stakes at 150 yards and fairway blocks as 200 and 100 yards. And a system is in place (that could be adopted by many more courses) where flags are colour coded to indicate front, centre and back pin positions on the putting surfaces.