Minutes north of Owen Sound, Ontario is a Doug Carrick-design which will leave players wanting to tee it up again and experience this links-inspired course again. The course is perennially set within Canada’s top 100 and this is rightfully so, as the course provides an excellent balance of fun and enjoyment, with genuine challenge. The design is intelligent, with strong diversity in golf holes which will pique the interest of fans of golf architecture. For me, it may have been one of the best set of greens I have experienced in some time; large, consistently quick, undulating but fair. Critics may disagree, but I would play off those greens everyday and be very happy to do so.
The resort places a premium on service, as all staff I encountered demonstrated exceptionally professionalism. They made the experience that much more special. I had the pleasure of playing on an early summer day with what is likely a rare experience for a first time player; little to no wind. It would clearly be yet another line of defence for a course which brings plenty – numerous small bunkers, fescue grasses set away from generous landing areas and large greens.
The course is set within an emerging housing development though there are not too many homes which are adjacent to cause distraction to players. The facilities are simply in outstanding condition. The practice space is very good and close to the first tee. The course will grab your attention immediately with a medium length, uphill par 4. Landing areas are framed exceptionally well and the first, with a subtle bend left , looks tighter than it is (a small bunker may capture balls for anyone looking to take a straight line approach). The opening nine is a force, with some excellent golf holes. The fifth is an exceptional, long par 4. However, the par 5 seventh hole is a real show-stopper. The eighth hole featured a Redan-style green which I have not experienced much, but appreciated for its uniqueness and genuine challenge. In fact, the par 5 ninth hole, given its excellent waterfront location, is almost underwhelming in contrast to other golf holes on the front.
I really appreciated the consistency of the greens, kudos to Ben Ingram, for the work he and his team have done. There were so few ball marks on greens I stopped looking for some to repair. The bunkers were playable, consistent in the quality and quantity of sand but were hazards as other greenside misses opened up options for players, which I always appreciate. The course is walkable, but a cart makes for a more relaxed golf experience and as a first time player that was appreciated.
The back nine started similarly to the opening hole, with an uphill par 4. Much steeper however, it was nice to have a shorter club in my hand on the approach. The par 4 eleventh hole is a shorter par 4 which creates risk/reward options off the tee, just watch the pond on the left. The par 5 12th may be set at the furthest point from the clubhouse, but yes, you can still enjoy a water view (and not the large pond running along the left side). The closing three holes are stout; a long par 4 which would be made even more challenging with wind requires one of the most demanding tee shots of the round. New housing being built on the left is much further away than it appears. The signature hole, the downhill par 3 seventeenth, is a joy to play. Trust your yardage. The green is protected by bunkers short and a sharp slope as well. The closing hole is a par 5 which demands three great shots but regardless of your score, make time to enjoy refreshments on the patio.
My reflections on the round and the experience at Cobble Beach are all positive. Quality, fun and service are the words which come to mind. From a golf perspective, it is unique and challenging, but fair and very fun. I quickly realized it was a course I want to come and experience annually.