Requiring imagination and resilience. Walkable. Terrific fun.
Tarandowah is all of these things—and much more. Since opening in 2007, Tarandowah’s generated a fanbase any golf facility would be envious of. That’s because of its golf course—a throwback to the links found on the Scottish coast, or on the west of Ireland, or the south of England. The course, with its pot bunkers, fescue-lined fairways, and crafty greens, is unlike anything you’ll find in Southern Ontario, which is why golfers travel significant distances to seek it out.
By the time your tee shot bounds down the fairway of the first hole, you’ll be hooked. Firm, fast, and always intriguing, no two rounds at Tarandowah are ever the same. Can you carry the burn on the fourth? Get home in two to close out the outward nine, or find the sliver between the two flanking bunkers on 18?
“North Sea, be damned! Tarandowah is the real deal—a fescue-rimmed, pot-bunkered, pockmarked rollercoaster ride that can be an angry, wind-whipped brute, even without an ocean at its doorstep.”
“I like the interest to be focused on the golf hole not on the outside. I want the contours in the fairway to be part of the focus. It is about a little bit of luck and a little bit of misfortune.”
Dr. Martin Hawtree, Tarandowah’s mastermind, is among the most celebrated golf designers in the world, having worked on the Old Course at St. Andrews, Lahinch in Ireland, and created the magnificent Trump International near Aberdeen. He found a blank canvas in the land that became Tarandowah and crafted it into an authentic take on the modern links.
“The very first time I looked at the land, I knew it had very considerable potential,” he says. “I wanted to refresh people’s idea of what a golf course may be.”
What makes Tarandowah different is Hawtree’s avoidance of the clichés you’ll find in many Canadian courses. Instead of using contrived fairway mounding to separate holes, he relied on fairway lines, long grasses and bunkering to define his holes. It makes the course feel natural, not unlike the sense one gets from a course designed in the U.K. by the likes of James Braid or Willie Park Jr.
“I like the interest to be focused on the golf hole not on the outside,” Hawtree says. “I want the contours in the fairway to be part of the focus. It is about a little bit of luck and a little bit of misfortune.”
That doesn’t mean you’ll get away unscared. Pot bunkers punctuate landing areas, and short-grass surrounds allow balls to carom away from the green. To Hawtree, that’s part of an authentic golf experience.
“Fairness in golf is one of our hang ups at the moment,” he says. “I’ve never bought into that obsession with fairness, an obsession with justice. Those were never meant to be part of golf.”
“Tarandowah is very much in the spirit of all those great old links courses.”