321 Scarborough Golf Club Road,
- +1 416 266 4546
15 km NE of downtown Toronto
Members and their guests only
Carol Ann Goering
George Cumming, A. W. Tillinghast
George Cumming, the 1905 Canadian Open champion, designed the course at Scarboro Golf & Country Club and it opened in 1914, two years after the club was formed. Ten years later, A. W. Tillinghast remodeled 11 of the 18 holes on the layout. Surprisingly, the course is the one and only remaining Canadian project that ‘Tillie” worked on.
Stanley Thompson is also credited with some input, reducing the degree of slope on the 8th hole in 1947 and Graham Cooke was involved in later renovation work, but the course was more recently renovated by Ian Andrew and Gil Hanse.
The 144-acre Scarboro Golf & Country Club site was the venue of four Canadian Opens and three of these championships were decided by one stroke (Sam Snead in 1940, Dave Douglas in 1953 and Doug Ford in 1963) with Bobby Locke winning the 1947 event by two shots from Ed “Porky” Oliver.
Set out on a rolling landscape where fairways are framed by towering trees, greens are often severely contoured and a dozen holes are interrupted by the winding Highland Creek. Scarboro is an Olde Worlde gem which just might be the most underrated course in the country.
Despite a modest overall length of around 6,500 yards, the course possesses a rich mix of holes. Its par five holes at the 576-yard 1st, 560-yard 6th and 527-yard 10th are all solid three-shotters whilst its par threes (particularly the 204-yard 2nd) are a delight to play.
Those holes are very good but many believe the 284-yard 7th and 320-yard 15th holes to be the real stars of the show at Scarboro as they are regarded as two of the best short par fours in Canadian golf.
Scarboro is the only A.W. Tillinghast design outside of the United States, which makes it quite noteworthy in itself. This is especially the case with the resume Tillinghast built over his years as an architect, with Winged Foot GC, Bethpage Black, San Francisco GC and Baltusrol GC among his many celebrated designs.
The club went through with an extensive bunker restoration by Gil Hanse and Ian Andrew about 10 years ago and the results are absolutely stunning. The flat bunker floors give way to steep grass faces and the look is very unique and incredibly photogenic and while I have never seen the course before the bunker work, I have to imagine that the members of the club are quite pleased with the end result.
I can’t speak highly enough about the experience of playing Scarboro. The routing is kind of unique in that it doesn’t feature the traditional ‘loop’, with nines returning to the clubhouse. You basically set out through the course, across the road and eventually come back, finally reaching the clubhouse again on the 18th.
Conditioning was absolutely spectacular. The greens were reminiscent of Oakmont and I can’t give a higher compliment. They had to be running at about an 11 or 12 on the stimp the day we played and with the slopes on those greens, it was as much challenge as you could ask for.
We loved the variety out there, with many short fours that presented multiple options and a very challenging set of par threes. The bunkering, as indicated previously, is tremendous both visually and from a playability standpoint. The course is a hell of a great walk too.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the stately Victorian-style clubhouse. It’s a gorgeous piece of architecture and features a wraparound veranda that overlooks the practice green, the 19th hole (another cool feature) and the first tee.
The best thing I can say about Scarboro G&CC is that it is super fun to play and after finishing 18 you want to head right back out and challenge the course again, a trademark of all great courses. There is some quirk here, most notably on the 18th hole, which requires a blind tee shot hit over a fence and a major roadway but that hole does little to detract from the experience.
I think Scarboro stacks up against the best this country has to offer and believe it matches up favourably with a place like Westmount, which I also love. Perhaps it would fall slightly below that course but my point has been made. Scarboro is a wonderful members course, one people could play every day and feel still feel challenged every time.
I can’t wait to go back and play it again.
Read more at Now on the Tee: https://nowontheteegolf.com/2010/05/10/scarboro-golf-country-club/
This mature stately private course offers wide fairways and severe elevation changes. The layout is a good combination of short and long holes. Be forewarned that some of your tee shots must carry over hazards. Three of the par-3s are over 200 yards and one is at 100 yards. The 5th and 7th are short par-4’s but the greens are raised and very small, so your approach shot has to be accurate.
The 5th is the signature hole, a downhill par-3 200+ yards with a river on the right. The course was in excellent condition. My only negative that they are giant oak trees standing in the middle of 1st and 9th fairways which probably can not be taken down for environmental reasons. This is a great course and a must play if you get an invitation.