The Canadian Shield is a layer of granite stone that lies just a few feet below ground level throughout many parts of central and northern Ontario. Rather than avoid it, golf course architect Thomas McBroom has made a feature of this special landscape at Rocky Crest.
“Rock can provide great beauty, character and strategic nuance in golf design,” says McBroom, who had already designed two other courses over similar terrain in the Muskoka region at Lake Joseph Club and Deerhurst Highlands before tackling Rocky Crest. “The Canadian Shield provides a brilliant canvas for courses with natural beauty. Instead of covering the rock we should uncover it.”
Half a million metric tons of sand (26,000 loads) was trucked onto the property over seven months as part of the construction process which shaped tees, fairways and greens. Once this was done, high-pressure hoses were used to shift dirt and other debris from selected areas of rock which now serve as target line and formidable obstacles.
Rocky Crest Golf Resort is situated on the western shores of Lake Joseph, and the golf course opened for play in 2000. Trees line most fairways, giving a great sense of seclusion from the outside world. There are only thirty-five bunkers on the course as there are enough hazards with the aforementioned Canadian Shield.
Water comes into play at several holes and both putting surfaces and fairways are constructed from bent grass. The use of five tees at every hole sees the overall yardage of this par 71 layout stretch to 6,936 yards. And after the round, there is a spectacular log cabin-style clubhouse to repair to.
The signature hole is the 6th an intimidating 569-yard par five, where the drive from the elevated back tees has to carry a canyon – described by one commentator as “a three-acre chasm of naked granite” – that looks twice as wide as the actual 185-yard carry required. In the words of the architect, the gaping gorge and uphill tee shot at this hole “strike the fear of God into you”.