Course: Briars Club
Location: Sutton, ON
Length: 6273 Yards
Driving Range: Irons & Wedges only
Putting Green: Yes
Website: The Briars Club
Less than an hour drive from downtown Toronto (traffic included), my best friend and Teeing Off Podcast co-host Greg and I embarked on a two-day, one night trip to The Briars Club hopeful of some fun relaxing golf and a nice stay at their on-site resort. We checked out their website ahead of time in an attempt to get a grasp of the course and area before showing up, but the real thing far surpassed our expectations.
From the course, to the people, to the resort, to the food; everything was just about perfect. Both the course and resort sit on the edge of Lake Simcoe (there’s even a private beach for those staying at the resort) and the whole place has an old-timey, quaint, classic feel and vibe to it. It really is hard to believe you’re just an hour away from the craziness of downtown Toronto with how serene everything in the area is.
We played two rounds of golf while there; one on a Monday afternoon and the second on Tuesday morning, and here are our rankings of just about everything we encountered:
Course Condition – Greg: 8 RJ: 7.5
One of the things The Briars pride themselves on is pace of play. The other is the condition of their course. Aside from a few minor maintenance spots, they lived up to that. The rough is lush, the fairways and tee boxes are well maintained, and the greens are immaculate. They were killing me, but they were fantastic.
Difficulty – Greg: 7.5 RJ: 7.1
This course is sneaky tough. From the pre-trip scouting I went in thinking I would have birdie looks all day and post something in the mid-70’s. Neither one of us broke 80 in either round. What makes it so tough is mainly two things. The first is off the tee. For the first 27 of 36 holes we played, us two knuckleheads hit Driver just about every chance we had. This was a mistake. Even if you’re in the fairway here you may be blocked out by a tree limb or have no angle to the pin, and if you miss the fairway you’re almost guaranteed a bogey or worse because you’ll have to pitch out back to the fairway in order to advance the ball anywhere near the green. And once on the greens, the trouble is just getting started. That’s the second factor that makes things so tough. Hands down the crown jewel (in my opinion at least) of this track is the greens. They’re extremely well maintained, they have a ton of slope, and there is hardly an easy putt out there. Add to that the protection of the greens by well-placed bunkers and mounds and you’re in for a long day if you’re not accurate both off-the-tee and with your approach shots. The course may not look long on the scorecard but it can certainly play much longer depending on how you decide to attack it.
Pace of Play – Greg: 10 RJ: 9.9
As you can see, this couldn’t have been much better. Although there were other people on the course it felt like we had the place to ourselves. We could go as fast or as slow as we wanted, we could pick whether to tee off the front nine or back nine, we could stop at the turn for a drink if we wanted; it was great. We never felt any pressure to speed up or any anger at a group in front of us for going too slow. Both Greg and I remarked that we would rather play a round like that on a GOOD course, than a slow round on a GREAT course. So if you hate slow play, this is the place for you.
Design – Greg: 7 RJ: 6.5
The beauty of the design here is the simplicity and the green complexes. That being said, those factors don’t exactly set up for anything that is spectacular to the eye. The layout is pretty straight forward and what you see is what you get. That shouldn’t be misconstrued as a negative, it just is what it is.
Fun – Greg: 7 RJ: 6.7
Generally the more birdie attempts or the better your score, the more fun you will have. At The Briars that is a tough task. Again, not a criticism, just not an easy course at all. There are very few, if any places on the course where shots funnel back towards the fairway or green if hit off-line, and a missed green or fairway will punish you. And that in a way can be fun, the challenge of the grind with there being no easy holes out there. That being said, it’s nice to stand on a tee-box and think birdie instead of hoping to protect against a bogey. So if you’re really hoping to test your game this is a great spot for it. If you want to go for a casual round with your friends and shoot a good score, it might not be for you.
Overall – Greg: 9 RJ: 8.6
All in all, we had a blast. The course played tough but fair, we sped along with nothing holding us up, we were treated extremely well, and the weather was perfect. Neither one of us played very well, but that was exacerbated by our lack of changing our strategy to match the course. So word of advice to anyone playing here: play smart off-the-tee and be careful on the greens. This will make the course play longer, but your scorecard will be thankful for it.
A great time was had by both Greg and I, and we will definitely be making a trip back in the future. Special thanks to Scott Stevens for setting everything up and helping us find our way around. Again, the greens here are the real winners and I’d highly recommend anyone that can get a day or two off to check this place out and get away from the hustle and bustle of the city without having to drive for hours and hours.
Greg: 48.5/60 or 81%
RJ: 46.3/60 or 77%
Podcast Review (Starts at 16:00 Mark)