The Briars will test top senior golfers, public alike

man walking across bridge on golf course at briars
One of Ontario’s most fabled golf courses will play host to one of the country’s most significant championships at the end of August.
The Briars, with nine holes created in 1922 by Stanley Thompson, Canada’s most noted golf designer, and an additional nine crafted nearly 50 years later by his protégé Robbie Robinson, will see many of the best senior golfers in North America tee it up to contest the Canadian Men’s Senior Championship over the sporty and intriguing layout from Aug. 27 to 30. The resort is located about an hour’s drive north of Toronto in Jacksons Point.
Golf architect Ian Andrew has consulted with The Briars for much of his career and considers it one of Thompson’s unheralded gems. He says Robinson’s work, which is the back nine of the course, has aged exceptionally well and matured into something comparable to the original holes, creating a seamless blend.
“The one thing I’d say about The Briars is that it is a ton of fun to play and it is perfect for the Canadian Men’s Senior Championship,” says Andrew. “It is full of holes that force you to make decisions. Do you play boldly and try for a score, or to you play it more conservatively and hope to make birdies that way. There are always decisions to be made which is why it is some of Thompson’s best work.”
Andrew is particularly fond of the risk/reward holes designed by Thompson on the front nine, including the short but fascinating fifth, a par three that only measures 132-yards from the tips, but has plenty of trouble, and the ninth hole, a par five that will allow the bold golfer to try for the green in two. As for the back nine, Andrew lauds the conclusion – especially the 18th – as some of Robinson’s best work in a long and varied career that started as an employee of Thompson’s.
American Chip Lutz will return to the Briars to try to defend a title he’s won in each of the past two years. Lutz won last year’s title at Golf Griffon des Sources in Mirabel, Que., saying he was “thrilled beyond words,” to defend the title. He has also won the British Senior Amateur in each of the last two years.
In addition to Lutz, there are a number of exceptional players who will be teeing it up at the title, including Canadian Golf Hall of Fame member Graham Cooke, who is also a well-known golf course architect. Cooke finished third in last year’s tournament.
Dan Pino, head of communications for Golf Canada, says the organization often tries to connect the Canadian Men’s Senior Championship with an attractive location that will allow golfers to bring spouses. He says in that regard, The Briars is a great option.
“It is close to Toronto and there are a lot of things to do in the area, as well as offering a great golf course,” says Pino.
Interestingly, The Briars is garnering a reputation as one of the best stay-and-play facilities in Canada, offering a mix of golf, accommodations, and access to all facilities for $199 to $249. That’s the only way the public can access the course – it is otherwise a private facility, open only to members. But given its proximity to Toronto, and its attractive golf and hotel combination, The Briars presents an intriguing option for a couples getaway or a guys long weekend.
 
Written by Robert Thompson
A best-selling author and award winning golf writer, Robert Thompson has written for the likes of Golf Digest, the National Post and the Globe and Mail.

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