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Golf North of the Border - Golf Digest, 2007 Four Star Rating!

St. Andrew's Valley - Articles


Golf Digest

We visited Canada's three biggest cities - Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver - and sampled the best places to play.
I was drawn to St. Andrew's Valley in Aurora by its 77.5 course rating, the highest in the province. The owners constructed the course to Canadian architect Rene Muylaert's design, but they darn near doubled the dimensions. Where Muylaert prescribed a six-foot mound, they built one 12 feet high. If he penned in a 6,000-square-foot green, they made it 12,000 square feet. A simple bunker became a sinkhole. A knob on a green became a humpbacked whale. Thankfully they didn't double the yardages - as it is, the course measures 7,305 yards from the back tees. For all its exaggerations, St. Andrew's Valley is great fun to play.

 


The Bogey Man - Rated Excellent!

Every golfer needs to get a 7,000 yard course out of their system, so it might as well be St. Andrew's Valley. Played at that length and even longer than PGA West, this could be Canada's toughest golf course.
St. Andrew's Valley is just like Beauty and the Beast. From the whites, all is joy in La-La land where happy golfers chuckle and whistle while they play. The 6,600 yard blues soon wipe the smiles off while the 7,000 yard gold's will wipe you off -- it's not just a beast, it's a full-fledged monster. And just for the record, there's a green tee set at 7,300 yards, where sod is impeccable, possibly virginal. Now that's longer than some people's vacations.
St. Andrew's Valley does not resemble the Old Course in the slightest. Fairways are wide, greens are huge and water is a nuisance on 13 holes. The bunkers are not large, but there's too many of them and one is so deep, it feels like solitary down there. The five sets of tees add a touch of elegance and the course superintendent, who is also one fine golfer, has had to work overtime to get the greens and fairways in such excellent condition.
The 200-yard bunker on six is to be avoided. Get out of jail free with par here. Your ball could land
 behind a small stone which might become a little boulder when you're ready to hit.
Number eight can take your head clean off, the tee shot having to thread the needle to land on a plateau, which falls away to a downhill green that's still, "gasp," a 2-iron below. It'll feel like Alcatraz but without the bars.
The rating of 77.5 from the back tees puts St. Andrew's Valley in the same league as PGA West of Skins fame -- wonderfully though, very pretty and in great shape. Know anyone like that? If you decide to try it from the tips, be prepared to be royally humbled. You'll be in good company.
TWO TIPS -- Get your tee shot past the corner on nine. To get more distance on your drive on 18, hit it hard, then run backwards.

 


The Added Touch

St. Andrew's Valley is owned by golfers. It is run by golfers and it is maintained by golfers. So we know what you as a golfer expect from a golf course. For example, we share your concern about slow play and overcrowding. That is why when you come to St. Andrew's valley you will not be frustrated by commercial tournaments. That is why we have tee times ten minutes apart and why we have rangers constantly on the course. You have our commitment that your 18 hole round will not take more than four and a half hours.
The Valley boasts one of the finest practice ranges in the country and has hosted the Flick Golf Schools.
We have a well stocked pro shop, a coffee shop, lots of cold beer and a staff that is eager to make your trip to St. Andrew's a pleasant experience.

 


Tyrannosaurus Rex of Golf Courses

Played at average length, St. Andrew's Valley is a tough and testing golf course.
Played at its full 7,300 yards from the tips, it's a mean brute; the Tyrannosaurus Rex of golf courses. Its length is huge, its hazards are huge and its greens are huge.
You think Baltusrol had one tough par 5? From the tips, St. Andrew's has three par 5s on the back nine that measure 605, 615, and 624 yards respectively. And water comes into play on every one of them!
St. Andrew's, turned into a public course when its owners realized its equity ambitions were going nowhere in the recession, is a unique course that, even from the shortest of five tee decks, demands brute length, solid shot making and an ability to get long putts close to the hole. There's a reason why the course rating ranges from 72.2 from the second-shortest to 77.5 from the longest tees.
And don't forget that when you step out onto the first hole. Don't be macho and just jump onto the middle tees - take a good look at the 6,612 yards you'll be hitting the ball from then on. There are no short cuts on this course - no adjacent fairways to gather your slice. It plays full yardage!
The greens are so deep the greenskeeper could lengthen the course by another 300 yards by pushing the pin to the back.
There are some great holes at St. Andrews. Par 4s at 7 and 8 and par 5s at 9 and 10 are as good a stretch of four holes you'll play anywhere. The back nine climaxes from there to a wonderful finishing hole that features two flag sticks - the tough, and the super-tough.

We visited Canada's three biggest cities - Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver - and sampled the best places to play.

“I was drawn to St. Andrew's Valley in Aurora by its 77.5 course rating, the highest in the province. The owners constructed the course to Canadian architect Rene Muylaert's design, but they darn near doubled the dimensions. Where Muylaert prescribed a six-foot mound, they built one 12 feet high. If he penned in a 6,000-square-foot green, they made it 12,000 square feet. A simple bunker became a sinkhole. A knob on a green became a humpbacked whale. Thankfully they didn't double the yardages - as it is, the course measures 7,305 yards from the back tees. For all its exaggerations, St. Andrew's Valley is great fun to play.