Situated half an hour’s drive southeast of London, the course at Tarandowah Golfers Club was Martin Hawtree’s first Canadian design, opening for play in 2006. Indeed, it remains only one of four North American courses to bear the Hawtree architectural stamp as Fred Hawtree laid out a couple of courses in the US in the late 1970s and Martin is credited with the 1990 design of Reems Creek in North Carolina.
Built on 163 acres of an old family farm, this public pay and play course was designed as a faux links, with firm and fast bent grass fairways leading to undulating greens that are protected in many instances by small pot bunkers. Even though there are only two par fives on the card at holes 9 and 14, Tarandowah still measures a meaty 7,067 yards from the back markers, thanks mainly to the 400-yard+ length on nine of its twelve par four holes.
The toughest of these long two shotters is the 468-yard 11th, “Donn,” which plays directly into the prevailing wind. Tee shots need to negotiate nests of bunkers on either side of the fairway landing area before an approach shot to the two-tiered, offset green can then be executed. The smart play here might just be to lay up short to the left of the target then attempt a chip and a putt for par.
The first time I played Tarandowah I hated it. This was back before I appreciated golf course design and architecture. It was also before I was a better player. Since playing the course a few additional times, I have come to appreciate the course and its design, especially at its excellent price point.
Tarandowah is as close to a links course as you will get in southern Ontario. Dr. Martin Hawtree took a farmers field and made an incredible golf course with excellent use of some interesting terrain. It plays firm and fast in the summer just like you would expect so it is important to remember to land it short and let it bound onto the green closer to the hole. A unique experience to golf in Canada for sure. Be sure to play this one more than once to truly understand what it offers.
Good Links course. Fescue out there so hit it good. Greens role well and consistent. Price is OK but it is not a cheap course. I had a great day in the middle of nowhere. Fun Challenging Course.
Holy smokes! Not a cheap course? This course is available for less than 50$ and is a pretty good test of golf. Not sure what amount you would pay to play a cheap course. Home to a couple semi pro tournaments this year - Ontario club pros and great makes tour.