Often referred to as Robbie Robinson's best design, Craigowan's 18 hole parkland style golf course was designed by the Canadian Hall of Famer in 1959 with emphasis on the natural lay of the land, rather than artificially created hazards. Robinson returned to the club every year and was always pleased to see how the course was maturing.
"I love how big the greens are here. That's why I love this golf course. It never gets old. When you have big greens and big tees a golf course can always play different. It can test everyone from the casual golfer to the best amateurs. That's a good golf course."
Craigowan's members are committed to maintaining a superbly conditioned golf course and unquestionably one of the premier golf courses of South-western Ontario. Cared for by Golf Course Superintendent, Jerry Richard, and renowned Weir Golf Design architect, Ian Andrew, Craigowan is a golf course that will keep you coming back for more.
A Golfer's Golf Course
"If you play well and manage your game you can score. It compels you to think, to play shots. That's always a sign of a good golf course…. It has to be played and felt, not seen. … It doesn't wow you or overwhelm you, but … will catch your attention and keep it over the long run… This is a golf course meant to be played."
-Ian Andrew, Architect, Weir Golf Design
Tour the Craigowan Golf Course
The following hole by hole commentary is largely based on commentary provided by Craigowan's course architect, Ian Andrew of Weir Golf Design, for Rick Young's book "From Fifth to 59 to 2009" written to celebrate Craigowan's centennial year.
Hole #1 Will-O-Way (Par 5)
With a fantastic elevated tee shot, it's got great movement right to left. The bunkers force you to hit a good drive while creating options on how you should best play the hole. The green is nice and big, but subtle. It's a terrific hole to start Craigowan.
Hole #2 Maple Summit (Par 4)
Craigowan's signature hole, number 2 is about one thing - great shots!
A challenging hole so early in the game, it's an excellent tee shot carrying the creek right off the tee. The green is actually like two little green sites on either side with a valley in the middle. It's very difficult: with 180 to 200 yards coming up the hill it's hard to have the control you need to hit a spot in there. It can be a complicated green no matter where you are. The green also falls quite hard to the front which you really notice because of the other plateaus and contours. If you don't hit your absolute best on this one, you never make par. Birdie is something you celebrate because you might only do it once a year.
Hole #3 Ridgeway (Par 3)
After the difficult Par 4 on #2, the 3rd hole offers up great diagonal angles which make for great strategy. With just a couple of bunkers in front and a bit of fairway on the left side of the green, you can play the shorter, safer side and keep the little fall off on the right side and the little valley in front of the hole from taking one from you.
Hole #4 The Elms (Par 5)
Routed and highlighted by the large maple tree which stands in such a great spot for this golf hole. You have to play against the tree line on the left to give yourself a shot at the green or a properly positioned second shot. This short Par-5 is yet another great opportunity to score.
A fun hole, the green at the 4th is excellent with a swale in the middle and the high and low on the back and front respectively.
Hole #5 Church Bound (Par 4)
Here you play from a high point through to the west end of the property with the church in the distance. An evolving hole, the fairway is fairly straight and quite wide with the tee ball having a right to left shape. The green is two tiered, so choose the right club.
Hole #6 Trap Shoot (Par 3)
A long Par 3 with a 30 degree angle from the new tee deck, the green is quite receptive and sort of jumps out at you. This plays as the most difficult Par 3 at Craigowan and a Par here is a good score for anyone.
Hole #7 Picture Par (Par 4)
A nice downhill tee shot to a low landing area, then a subtle rise up to the green sitting on a natural plateau. The one and only proper line on this hole is to hug the left side of the fairway to have a clear shot into the entire green. No need to risk the pond! The green is nicely contoured and runs very gently back to front. It's a troublesome hole if you're not swinging well, or a hole that can be played aggressively if you need a birdie.
Hole #8 Maple Marker (Par 4)
An outstanding short hole, this is one of the best short Par-4's Robinson ever designed! Plenty of fun, plenty of options.
The trees on both sides of the fairway frame this hole beautifully. It is generally a position hole off the tee, so you don't even need the driver on this one. A challenging green presenting many great pin positions on either side of the valley.
Hole #9 Bunker Hill (Par 3)
The tee shot is slightly down or about the same elevation level as the green with a deep valley in front. Everything on this hole is right out in front of you; the bunkers are easily spotted from the tee. The green on the front 9 closer is spectacular and interesting with its subtleties and movements.
Be sure to visit the Halfway House at #10 tee for a cold beverage and a hot dog.
Hole #10 Stone House
A great hole with an unusual amount of cross slope, it plays from a high spot into a valley and then up to a nice plateau green. This is very much an option and placement hole. The best shot is a draw off the tee to use the slope most effectively but the hole does not require a driver to be played well. The old stone house foundation adds character and a sense of history.
Hole #11 Straightaway
A straightforward hole with a good green that slopes from front to back with bunkering around it. The large green makes players think twice about club selection.
Hole #12 Tree Traps (Par 3)
A stunning little Par-3, the green for the 12th hole sits in a bit of a bowl just a little higher up than you think it does from the tee. The hillside behind the green serves as a great backdrop while the bunkers frame the hole beautifully. The wind can really swirl back in this corner of the course.
Hole #13 Lone Sentry (Par 5)
An extremely long Par-5, number 13 takes you through some of the flattest terrain on the course, but requires three good shots to go the distance. The green site is interesting with a big knoll in front of it. It's a delicate operation trying to get to this green, particularly with forward pin position.
Hole #14 Crestwynd
An amazing shot from the top of the hill, across the valley to an absolutely perfect plateau green sitting right against the out of bounds line. Back left here gives you a lot of bail out room, but the plateau and the green itself with rolls make this hole interesting. Depending on where the hole is pinned the rolls can present varying degrees of challenge and intrigue.
Hole #15 Shady Lady
The left side off the tee is the favoured here. Anything slightly right will require some left to right movement for the approach. With no mounds and some space between the trees, this hole offers great recovery shots - and that's half the fun of golf; getting behind a tree and trying to hit a little punch hook onto the green.
Hole #16 Sherwood
From the tee you see the big trees down on the right and think you can take it over the trees. However, those trees are actually a lot farther away than they appear and this thinking will often lead to trouble. What you really need is something short out to the middle and then a mid to shorter iron into the green. Of course, the green is somewhat deceiving too, appearing to be wide open when in fact it is not.
Hole #17 Shady Tree (Par 4)
With a serpentine "S" shape, this hole makes for good strategies. If you hit a nice soft cut off the tee and get yourself into good position, the approach shot favours a slight draw. This hole can really reward the better player who has the ability to work the ball. A hit out to the right on the approach with a draw into the green will be rewarded as the ball will work its way to back pin locations. Coming late in the round, this hole can be a great equalizer.
Hole #18 Aqua Vista (Par 5)
Serving up an awesome finish to a round of golf, this hole invites you to get aggressive of the tee. The green sits half way up the hill with the clubhouse on an angle giving a panoramic view both from the clubhouse looking down to the hole and from the fairway looking up to the clubhouse and green. The 18th hole is a spectacular way to finish a round of golf at Craigowan.