Jul 31, 2013

Muskoka Bay Club Golf Course Review

Muskoka Bay Club - June 2013
Gravenhurst, Ontario, Canada

Architect: Doug Carrick (2006)

Tour Yardage(Black) 7,367 Yards, Par 72
Rating/Slope: 76.1/146

Played: Hybrid Yardage (Blue/White) 6,001 Yards
Rating/Slope: 70.2/129

One of the first times I talked to Chuck MacDougall Director of Sales, Marketing and Construction at Muskoka Bay Club he mentioned that, “Muskoka Bay was a course golfers wanted to play so they could check it off their bucket list”. For me playing Muskoka Bay Club was partially a bucket list course but it was something a little more.

I had glanced at a Golf Week article mentioning Canada’s Top Modern and Classic Golf Courses. I noticed a few courses that were on that list were right in my backyard. Hence how my Muskoka Golf Adventure ended up coming about. Muskoka Bay Club was #15 on the list of Top 40 Modern Canadian Golf Courses.

Muskoka Bay Club is not a far drive from Ottawa. I ended up driving Highway 17 through to beautiful Highway 60, which snakes through Algonquin Park then down Highway 11. Took about 4 and a half hours.

Muskoka Bay Club has a nice range situated high above the first tee so it was perfect to get warmed up. Nice large putting green situated perfectly by the white/middle tees to get a few putts in.

I ended up playing a hybrid set of tees (a mix of white & blues) which was perfect for a first timer to the course.

Hole 1: Par 4, 346 Yards - "Table Rock"
A great starting hole, the view from the tee is a narrow shoot. A driver isn't an must here so think about a 200 yard club to get you in the fairway. Trouble is all down the right side so favor the left side. Green is long and narrow with three bunkers on the right side and one on the left. Green has varying tier. The view from the back tees is amazing. See below.

Hole 2 : Par 3, 147 yards - "Pulpit"
A deceiving hole that looks to have a smallish green on top of the "Pulpit". Not the case. So get the right yardage and swing easy. The green once again has a few tiers/undulations.  Short and short right aren't good as well as long left (where I hit and couldn't get up and down and had to settle for bogey)

Hole 3: Par 4, 393 Yards - "Lost Lake"
I found this to be a tough hole. Normally my ball flight is right to left(draw) which sets up perfect for this hole. Unfortunately if you don't have a solid drive and you don't make it to the ridge in the fairway you going to have a longer, blind shot to this green.  You definitely want to come into this green from the right side much easier to avoid those large numbers.

Hole 4: Par 4, 303 Yards - "Shorty"
One of those fun holes especially from such an elevated tee. Amazing view, take out your driver and give it all you got. There is trouble short right and long left so if your not hitting your driver well keep it in the bag and opt for a hybrid to about 180- 190 yards. Setting up a wedge to this well guarded green. On the left with a plethora of bunkers and the back with good old Muskoka rock. Could be birdie or a snowman.

Hole 5: Par 4, 439 Yards - "Cliffside"
Hit a great drive here unfortunately it was to long and through the dogleg. So be careful what you hit off the tee especially from the middle/white tees. This can definitely be a birdie hole with two good shots.
Trouble all down the left side so favor the right side into this green.

Hole 6: Par 3, 123 Yards - "Son Of Birch"
One of the easier holes on the course. Although there's trouble both left (bunkers) and right (rock)The green is receptive and fairly long and you'll be hitting a short iron in so be confident and swing. Birdie or par surely waits.

Hole 8: Par 5, 471 Yards - "Eiger"
A beautiful par 5 from an elevated tee. Some may go for the green in two but with such a difficult green (slopes/tiers), a narrow shoot to the green and water to the left. Make this a 3 shot par 5 and you'll be much happier when you mark your score in.

Hole 9: Par 4, 343 Yards - "The Narrows"
From the whites this 343 yard par 4 looks slightly shorter from the elevated tee deck. Might have to do with the visually intimidating rock outcroppings. A hybrid down to about 150 yds. in makes for a very hard shot into this seemingly small green. The rocks are narrow and will gobble up your ball if your not accurate enough. When you get up there to see how much space you have you'll want to play it again immediately. A hole like no other golf hole I've ever played.

Hole 11: Par 3, 147 Yards - "Bad Baby"
I actually parred this hole which was fun. Another scenic hole, it is the easiest hole (Handicap 18) at Muskoka Bay but beware of the severe slopes of the green.  On a windier day I could see this hole playing real tough.

Hole 12: Par 5, 454 Yards - "Alps"
Not real sure about having rocks right in the middle of the fairway. I guess for some sort of visual deception. You want to be right of the rocks as left is nothing but trouble. With two good shots this green is reachable in two but my suggestion again is to use three shots to get to the green. The fairway slopes gently from the left so come into the long green form the right side. Bunker shouldn't be in play.

Hole 13: Par 4, 345 Yards - "Bunker Hill"
This was my birdie hole. Play your 200 yard club to just past the corner and you'll love the view you have of this well guarded green with bunkers left and right. Very tricky green with both tiers and slopes. Sunk a long putt here, birdie! birdie!

 Hole 14: Par 5, 458 Yards - "Himalayas"
The only par 5 at Muskoka Bay that I ended up with par. View from the tee is spectacular and intimidating with rocks everywhere and a narrow landing to boot. Pretty much everyone will be laying up regardless of what tees they're using. Watch for the deep gulley in front of the green.

Hole 15: Par 4, 317 Yards - "Alcatraz"
A short par 4 from the middle tees. You can play this hole many ways depending on your confidence. The fairway narrows as you get closer to the green. Green is protected right and back, rocks at about 100yds in can play with your head. 

Hole 17: Par 3, 175 Yards - "Waterloo"
Played from the blues at 175 yds. A par 3 with no bail out areas you have to be accurate with whatever club you choose. A large pond is a wonderful hazard on this longer par 3. If you are accurate with your distance, you'll be on looking for a birdie but happy with a par as this green has many tiers and undulations to deal with.

Hole 18: Par 4, 404 Yards - "Waterloo"
Tough finishing hole although it's straightaway there's trouble everywhere both left and right sides. Green is tough with slopes being either your friend or foe, do I hear three putt. A great view of the clubhouse coming in hopefully your marking in a good score on this hole.

I ended up having a really fun round at Muskoka Bay Club. I can see why Golf Week, Score Golf  have such accolades for the course. It is both scenic and playable from the appropriate tees. The greens and course in general was in immaculate shape. I applaud the grounds crew for keeping it that way. There were some very memorable holes for me. If you get a chance to play Muskoka Bay Club jump at it you won't be disappointed. I will definitely be back!

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