A Formidable Challenge Along the Holland River
York Region is not just one of the fastest growing areas in the country it is also a place filled with numerous, wonderful golf experiences. Some of the country’s most celebrated courses call the rolling farmlands and sprawling suburbia north of Steeles home. Ranging from exclusive private clubs to local daily fee clubs and everything in between, York Region has something to offer golfers of every need.
The early British settlers in Upper Canada built Yonge Street as a land route for supplies and trade in the new lands. Looking to build a water canal connecting Lake Ontario with Lake Simcoe to the north. The Holland River, draining the Oak Ridges Moraine north into Cooks Bay meanders through the central part of York Region and in many places is lined with the super-structures of locks. The river bisects the region and the bustling towns of Aurora and Newmarket on its travels. Where these two towns meet a supreme test of golf rests along the banks of the waterway.
Noted Canadian golf course architect Rene Muylaert has given golfers many wonderful courses throughout the Central Counties. One of these remarkable experiences is found at St. Andrew’s Valley, located on St. John’s Sideroad in Aurora. Built along the floodplain the routing maximizes the river as a hazard on a handful of holes. No fewer than eight holes have negotiate it for a chance at par.
St. Andrew’s Valley is a unique entity, as its clubhouse, spacious practice area and entrance is in Aurora, but the majority of the course is routed through the southern reaches of Newmarket. Both of these towns share this wonderful layout proudly. Playing to one of the highest ratings in Canada, “The Valley” is a beastly challenge. With 5 tee decks ranging from 5530 – 7315, this course can be either a pleasurable round or a humbling test, if the correct tees for your abilities are not selected, so pick carefully.
The course begins with a taste of a theme for throughout the layout. A crossing hazard forces you to decide on a layup and mid iron or to go for it out of the gate with a carry over the river and gentle wedge. The long par 5 second tests your decision making again with a crossing creek. Other notable holes on the opening side include the par 3 sixth hole named Arizona for the vast waste bunker that must be carried for a direct line to the distant green. The 8th is a beast of a par 4 playing uphill off the tee and leaving a long iron or hybrid back down to a well protected green with bunkers left and right and water behind. The ninth has a million ways to play this meandering par 5. Risky brings in the snaking river and the safe route leaves two precise shots to set up your wedge into the green.
The back nine has a creative routing with three par 3, 4 and 5 holes. The Par 5’s all play over 600 yards from the back tees with plenty of challenge no matter which deck you select. Each has an interrupted fairway forcing strategy to plot your way to the green. The finishing hole is one of the most difficult pars in these parts. A lengthy dogleg par 4 with a steep hillside at the inside corner, the approach must struck purely to have a chance getting to the massive three-tiered green.
St. Andrew’s Valley is a premium public play facility easily accessed between Bayview and Yonge in Aurora. This beautiful Muylaert design is a fine example of his trademark creative uses of crossing hazards, devilish ponds, wildly sloped greens and tough doglegs. An extreme test for those trekking to the back decks, this challenging course will be enjoyed for the shotmaking it forces, so long as you play the tees suitable to your abilities.
St. Andrew’s Valley Golf Club
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