|The 36-hole golf complex at Club de golf de la Valée du Richelieu celebrated its golden anniversary in 2015, half a century after its Le Verchères course was first unveiled. Founding members didn’t have too long to wait for the appearance of a second 18-hole layout as the longer, more difficult Le Rouville course made its debut in 1967.|
Located less than an hour’s drive from downtown Montreal in the suburb of Sainte-Julie, Richelieu Valley has hosted a number of important national championships down the years, none more so than the Canadian Open. Lee Trevino won the first Open played here in 1971 and Tom Weiskopf claimed the second, just two years later.
The course was redesigned by Neil Haworth in 2012 when he added new tees and fairway bunkers and reshaped all eighteen greens, elevating putting surfaces and installing deep greenside traps. Par threes at the 4th and 6th are feature holes now but the best is kept until the back nine, especially at the 12th and 14th, where the greens sit on either side of a lovely little pond.
The new signature hole is regarded as the 390-yard 16th. It requires a slight fade off the tee towards the bunker and flat part of the fairway, then an approach that has to carry a water hazard onto a very narrow green. It’s a tough hole where it’s reckoned around half of all golfers will end up in the water or in sand at the back of the putting surface.
Architect Neil Haworth commented as follows:
The original design brief was to rebuild all eighteen green complexes with a generous multi-million dollar budget. However, we came in under budget so we rebuilt all the fairway bunkers as well and adding some pro tees and lots of forward tees.
The routing basically stayed the same although we tried to add more variety as all the par fours seemed to be the same length and the par threes played the same length. A couple of lakes were enlarged slightly for better visibility of the water.
The members are very happy and the club is too as it has been able to sell close to a hundred new memberships without discounting, which in today’s market is an exceptional achievement.
The tournament hosted the PGA Champions Tour Montreal Championship in 2013 and I spent a day with Paul Vermuelen of the PGA who said, "the back nine of the Rouville course is truly spectacular and should be on everyone's bucket list”.
Competitor Rocco Mediate, in particular, also had nice
things to say: “The golf course is cool.
Good par threes here, really good set of par threes. Good driving
course, great second shot, just a good golf course. Whoever did the redo did a
fantastic job. Good old school golf course.”