Posted : June 26, 2014
Our blog is chock full of great ideas for fun things to see and do in York Durham and Headwaters. We are always adding new content and updating old posts, but sometimes you might stumble upon something from our vault. If this article has inspired you to hit the road, be sure to double-check that the featured stops in this post are still welcoming visitors.
When the chance to get out and play at Wooden Sticks Golf Club fell in my lap, I was glad I took the opportunity to clean the schedule and make it happen. It has been on my radar for so many years, but something always stood in the way of me booking a tee time to enjoy some of the most memorable holes from around the world. My golfing buddies have talked about their experiences and shared opinions with me, but until recently I could only listen without being able to contribute to the conversation. That I am happy to say is a thing of the past.
Pointing the car east to Uxbridge, I experience the Oak Ridges Moraine stretching through the heart of the Central Counties. This giant geological gift to golfers is a 160 km strip of leftovers from glacial times, dotted with gravel pits, regional forests, horse farms and a list of quality golf courses any area could be proud to call their own. Presenting the perfect landscape from which to craft exciting, challenging layouts, utilizing the sandy soils, varied topography and dense forests of hardwoods and red pines this landscape is a golf architect’s dream. I was excited to see what awaited my game.
Sitting atop 320 rolling acres of property on the south edge of Uxbridge, wedged between Hwy 47 and Concession 7, Wooden Sticks is the epitome of a facility built for golf and golfers with high expectations. The facility was envisioned by a group of investors, including a few former NHL players, to tap into the evolving premium public play golf trend of the 90’s. The ownership group selected Ron Garl, noted Canadian designer, to sculpt a most unique layout intended to provide a total golf experience like no other. The plans included building a layout that took players to the far corners of golfing world for a chance to hit shots most only get to see on TV. Garl took full advantage of this rolling landscape to massage a layout that blends a little taste of Scotland, Georgia, Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Southern Ontario all in one locale. Featuring holes that all know as “Signatures” from some of the most recognized routings, Wooden Sticks is a little bit Augusta, a little bit St. Andrews and many places in between.
Their moniker, “Play All the Golf Holes You’ve Dreamed About,” sums up the first impression when you get to the facility. The course is a wonderful blend of original holes and eight replicas of those we all are familiar from watching the pros traverse over historic grand courses. From the “Church Pews” set on the right of the first fairway to the “Holy Grail” of St. Andrews at the finish, Wooden Sticks lets you experience a flavour of some of the most famous holes from around the world. Augusta’s Amen Corner, the Postage Stamp of Troon, Hogan’s Alley from Carnoustie, St. Andrews Road Hole, first and finish and the dreaded Island Green of Sawgrass, let you live your golfing dream, all close to home. While not precise replicas, these are fine golf holes that stand on their own merit. In fact the 7 I took on the Island here shows more bite than the par 3 I was able to steal from Mr. Dye’s original at Sawgrass. Obviously the magnolias of Augusta and buffeted beach-heads of Scotland are not easily replicated in Southern Ontario, but the layout does give you a feel for the holes we all dream of conquering on our golfing bucket list.
Ten of the holes are Garl originals, with half having a gentle touch of inspiration from two of the most famous names in American golf. The aforementioned “Church Pews” of Oakmont grace the opener and Pine Valley’s menacing waste bunker style covers much of the homeward nine. These touches of design add a bit of flavour to some exceptional golf holes. The holes that are pure Garl are arguably some of the finest around. From the short risk/reward par 4 third, filled with deep nasty bunkers, to the beastly par 4 sixth, requiring a big tee shot and forced carry over a chasm to a hanging green, many feel the holes Garl created from his own imagination and the landscape might be the best on the course. A great blend of precision, distance control, shot shaping and execution are needed to navigate through these Garl originals.
The Wooden Sticks experience is more than just golf. Your greens fees package includes locker, cart, ball marker, course guide (most helpful by the way) and a pre and post round meal in the well appointed clubhouse. A walk through the clubhouse gives a glimpse of some the most noted figures in Ontario golf, as the facility is the home to the GAO and its Hall of Fame. Also home to six luxurious on-site cabins steps from the pro-shop and putting green, Wooden Sticks provides a terrific location for those looking for a memorable group golf experience or tournament. A group of your best golfing buddies, a remarkable layout and your own cabin might be something to add to your Central Counties golfing itinerary for the summer.
I can’t believe it took me all this time to experience Wooden Sticks. Celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, the course is a unique entity in the Central Counties golf scene. Presenting a remarkable layout whetting your appetite for some of the world’s most memorable golf holes, mixed with some top-notch originals, along with a full day of food and pampering makes the trip to Uxbridge for the Wooden Sticks experience well worth the trip.
Associate Editor, On The Tee Magazine www.ontheteemagazine.com
Tour Supervisor, BAGS Junior Tour www.bags.on.ca