It has been a few weeks now since I played TPC Toronto’s Hoot course. It was my first experience at the TPC Toronto facilities and the area around Caledon is full of natural splendor, in addition to the incredible richness of quality golf. Firmly set within this array of quality golf options are the three courses within the TPC Toronto at Osprey Valley facility. With the Mackenzie Tour set for the Osprey Valley Open on the North Course (formerly the Toot course), my group were very fortunate to have access to the Hoot course at a period where the courses were closed to public access due to the Tournament scheduled for that week. Conditions were flawless.
Doug Carrick designed all three TPC Toronto courses. Legendary golf and sports writer, Garry McKay said it best about Carrick designs, and I paraphrase, “the brilliance of a Carrick design is how the course is appropriate for players of all levels. They are generally forgiving off the tee. The real challenges are set closer to the green.” With the Hoot course, Mr. McKay is spot on in his assessment of Doug Carrick’s design. My impressions were that little to no land was moved in the design; the course appears seamless in its natural setting. Save for one waterfall feature (which I really didn’t care for much) there was nothing that felt manipulated or manufactured on the course. The course also employs wastelands prominently. There are no bunkers per se; instead, sand areas are played as waste areas so players can ground clubs. In fact, there is notable absence of cart paths in certain areas and the waste areas are designed to accommodate cart traffic.
The course also enjoys significant variety in holes, both in terms of length and their risk/reward elements. I played off white tees, just under 6000 yards. There are five tee decks available to players which vary from 5140 to 7150. The course opens with a par 5 which has a landing area which is more generous than it appears. Holes two and three both have a risk-reward component to them off the tee. The short par 3, 4th hole was one of my favourites, with a generous target but penal tall grasses protecting misses short and left. The long par 4, 5th hole is a stout test and the par 4 7th with its prominent uphill and tight approach showing that the Hoot is no pushover. The hole plays to more elevation the further back players choose to play from. There is nothing cookie cutter about this course. Each hole brings unique looks and design elements. The shorter par 4 12th is a devilish par 4 which provides options for a safe lay-up but invites players to take on an aggressive line to considerably shorten the hole. The closing stretch is fun, though the closing hole is somewhat lacking aesthetically. With the water which is prominent on 16 and 17, the contrast on 18 was noticeable for me. But make no mistake; I left Hoot feeling like I had experienced something special.
The rural setting and the pristine natural layout created a golfing experience I would like to enjoy again soon. On the site page for the course, I would have to concur with SCORE Golf’s Jason Logan in that Hoot may be my most favourite course in Ontario to play. The experience was fun, unique, challenging but very fair.
Aura – 9 out of 10 – SCORE Golf just announced the Hoot course at TPC Toronto at Osprey Valley as their 16th best publicly accessible course. Complement that with two other courses on site which are also cracked the top 59 and the aura of TPC Toronto’s Hoot course has been very high for me, and should be for other public players.
Value (cost / experience) – 8.5 out of 10 – A peak weekend fee of $114 doesn’t scream value play to many people, but dig a little deeper – $89 during the week or, if you have time in the height of summer, $177 for an all-day pass (take on the challenge of playing 54 a day) and the value climbs significantly. Sometimes too, the quality of the course is the driver for value and I believe this to be the case with TPC Toronto’s Hoot course.
Course Condition (fairways/greens, layout) – 9 out of 10 – I was not surprised that the course conditions were pristine but the real impressive aspect of Hoot was the layout and the design which Carrick created. Few courses create such a seamless integration into the natural landscape as well as this. It is a trait I admire in Stanley Thompson courses and Carrick has pulled off the same feel. Gently rolling hills create enough diversity to engage and challenge players. The course design frames landing areas exceptionally well. It is the greens which provide the most challenge but even here these challenges are fair and utilize natural hazards exceptionally well.
Overall Experience (how did the round make me feel; would I return) – 8.5 out of 10 – The risk is this score may be too low. The more I look back on my experience at TPC Toronto at Osprey Valley’s Hoot course, the more enjoyable and memorable it is. The facilities, the people, the layout and the course design are of a quality and character which is consistently excellent, unassuming and understated. I am hopeful I can get back to Caledon soon to experience the other two TPC courses, but know for certain that I would like to get back and play the Hoot course again. And only an hour from my home in Burlington, Ontario, for anyone in the GTA or visiting Toronto this is well worth the drive.
My Best Shot – The par 5 13th, features an approach shot which needs to carry a pond and has trouble right. I flushed an 8 iron on my approach, following a drive which caught the slope and ran out considerably, leaving only 5 feet for eagle. Uphill, I hit it to the back of the cup and recorded my first eagle in many years!
Special thanks to my foursome for a really enjoyable afternoon of golf! It only stands to reason that a great course should be experienced with great people!