The legendary golf course architect Stanley Thompson, who constructed many of Canada’s top tracks between the First and Second World Wars, designed Westmount Golf & Country Club.
Westmount was formed by a number of members from the Grand River Golf Club on 17th June 1929 under the chairmanship of Herbert Snyder. As the course was routed through bush and swampland, much hard work was involved in its construction before it opened two years later in 1931.
The original Thompson layout played to a par of 71 but this was lengthened to a par of 73 when additional land was obtained in 1958, allowing the introduction of three new holes at the expense of the the opening trio, which were turned into a practice facility at the club.
Located in 160 acres of parkland at Kitchener, south west of Toronto, Westmount is a private course that has hosted some of the top Canadian tournaments including the Open in 1957, the Ladies Open in 1965 & 1991 and the Amateur Championship in 1969.
Thomas McBroom and Doug Carrick have both upgraded the layout in more recent times but the course has Thompson’s signature on every hole. Fairways flow with the contours, dipping and rising, seldom allowing the golfer a level lie. Landing areas for tee shots are wide, but flashed bunkers prevail around the greens, making putting surfaces both dramatic and demanding.
One or two critics have commented that the greatness of one of Stanley Thompson’s best courses has been diminished somewhat in recent times by allowing trees to infringe in too many areas as overgrowth of woodland is prevalent at Westmount in their opinion. Perhaps this will be addressed in the near future.
The present day Westmount Golf & Country Club boasts a curling rink built in 1962 and tennis courts constructed in 1977 but members still owe a debt of gratitude to the early pioneers at the club like Herbert Snyder and his board of directors for steering the club through its formative years to the position it is now finds itself in as one of the foremost golf clubs in Canada.
Doug Carrick carried out a complete bunker renovation on the course and replaced the 11th and 12th greens in 2015.
Another excellent example of how Stanley Thompson designed golf courses continually stand the test of time. Westmount Golf & Country Club has consistently been ranked in the top 20 golf courses in Canada. It has hosted many prestigious events including the Canadian Open Golf Championship and the LPGA du Maurier Classic.
In 2015 the members reportedly spent $2.6 million up-dating the historic clubhouse to a much more contemporary feel. The service was impeccable. The staff were well-trained, friendly and welcoming.
Westmount was in impeccable condition the day we played it. This is parkland golf at its finest. Almost every hole is framed with tall pines and maple trees. The topography does not have as much dramatic elevation changes as I would have expected but the design is outstanding. This modified Thompson par-73 is tight with strategically placed bunkers but open and groomed under the trees, making it an ideal members course. The large greens are fast with subtle breaks.
The routing on the front nine is a little awkward for non-members since you can get easily get confused trying to find your way to the 5th and 8th tee-blocks.
My most memorable holes were the 3rd , a photogenic par-3 over a fountain pond with a well-forested backdrop and the 8th , a driveable par-4 with out-of-bounds lurking on the left side and a green that is protected by three ominous bunkers.
The only real issue here is that local rules dictate that you can remove any stones from the bunkers since they seem to continuously rise to the surface.
Westmount Golf & Country Club is an historic gem and a must-play if you are fortune enough to get an invitation.
Dave Finn is our Canadian Correspondent. To Follow his travels visit www.golftravelandleisure.com.