Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Shot Options: 7.0 Challenge: 7.0 Layout Variety: 7.5 Aesthetics: 6.5 Conditioning: 6.5 Fun: 7.0
Overall Grade: 6.9/10
Don Valley is a municipal golf course located just south of Highway 401 in North Toronto. It was designed by George Watson and built in 1961. Given its location in the heart of a big city and easily accessible by public transit, there are a lot of rounds played on this course in a playing season that generally runs from May through September.
Somehow, the city of Toronto manages to keep this under-rated muni in very good shape. I haven’t played Don Valley in a few years, but expect to see a lot of it this September when I return home. There are two changes I noticed upon visiting the upgraded website; an online booking system and a green fee increase for Seniors (60+). It’s still only $42 which remains a great deal amid the $100+ offerings dotting Toronto’s suburban landscape.
Do not be misled by the relatively short yardage from the white and blue tee blocks. Measuring slightly over 6000 yards from the blues, this course demands precision off the tee. Wayward tee shots on this parkland layout will inevitably result in penalty strokes or a series of punch-outs and layups. You would be wise to pull out your driver on only about 6 holes during your round at The Don. Your 3-wood and long irons will be your primary friends off the tee.
You can easily walk this golf course but there are a few climbs late in the round that can be taxing. There is a welcome rope-tow that will help pull you out of the valley at the conclusion of your round.
Hole #1 – You might be tempted to try and drive this green but there is a large tree guarding the left side of the hole. Your best bet is to hit a 160 – 175 yard shot to the right side of the fairway. From there, you can likely wedge it on.
Hole #3 – This is a rather awkward par-5. You can hit driver but anything that isn’t perfectly shaped left to right – will likely end up wet at the end of the fairway. Hit a 190 – 200 yard shot off the tee and follow it up with a shot of approximately 170 yards. You will have a short iron shot to a hard green guarded by water on your left and bunkers on your right. A par on this hole is cause for celebration.
Hole #12 – Another tough par-5. Unless you are a bomber with a low single-digit handicap – do not attempt to reach this hole in 2. Try to lay up your second shot as close to the water as you can. If your approach shot yardage to this narrow and elevated green suggests a 7-iron – hit at least a 6. Trust me on this.
Hole #14 – After playing this course for many years, I still don’t know how to play this hole. If you can easily shape – more like hook – a driver or 3-wood about 230 yards right to left, you will like this hole. Most players, however, will be faced with a rather steep and completely blind approach shot. There is an aiming pole above the green to assist.