Lowville Golf Club – Burlington’s Best Public Course?
One can make a case for Lowville Golf Club as the best public course in Burlington, Ontario. Recent renovations on the course are completed and the conditioning over the past two years has been consistently solid year round. This is not the toughest course you will ever play but it is not without its challenge. Set along the Niagara Escarpment in north Burlington this course of 6400 yards from the tips has consistent changes in elevation as it plays along the slopes of the escarpment. I have played this course more than any other in Burlington and keep coming back for its value, natural beauty and its layout which is straightforward and fair. No one is going to mistake this course for a Bucket List gem in Canada but combining the value, recent commitments to improving conditioning and stunning vistas and it is a strong value play.
With 8 holes set with a significant uphill or downhill gradient it is a stern walk and provides unique lies, both uphill, downhill and in some cases, side hill. Yet the effect is subtle on playability. Elevation changes along with prevailing winds will impact club choices. Greens are also unique. The escarpment will affect putts providing enhanced movement; safe to say the ball slopes away from the escarpment on putts. Most of the holes have a clear place to avoid and a safe place to miss. Many of the par 3’s are not long, but two of the shorter ones (#8 and #13) are more likely to see very high numbers on your card than the longer par 3’s. The challenge on this course is the three closing holes. Hole 16 is quite possibly one of the toughest par 4’s you will play. Formerly a par 5, and only slightly shortened, this uphill 430 yard hole is often into the wind. Par is a great score given the trouble right of the pin and the tiered green which places a premium on keeping the ball below the hole. Hole 17, like #2 and #9 are lengthy downhill par 4’s. A small, protected green makes 17 tougher than it may appear. Hole 18 is intimidating off the tee (especially off the blue and gold tees) and with reservoir construction makes for a stout closing hole.
I have to admit my bias; I love this course having played it many times since I was a teenager. I have shot my all-time low score here on a splendid summer day a couple years ago. The condition, combined with affordable fees and the chance to secure some great value from third party discount sites makes Lowville an enjoyable golf experience.
Aura – 5 out of 10 – The public golf market in Burlington has many options and Lowville no longer can align itself to a former sister course which has recently been acquired from ClubLink. It has a faithful following but lacks the prestige of other courses in the area.
Value (cost / experience) – 8 out of 10. Greens fees are extremely reasonable for a course which remains within the Greater Toronto Area. Peak fees are $60 but there are various rates based on time and date played. You can play for free on your birthday and they offer deals on their website
regularly. They provide times via third party sites like GolfNow and the GTA Golf Club which offer good value for the last minute player (with restrictions, mind you) The pro shop is nicely stocked with value offerings as well.
Course Condition (fairways/greens, layout) – 7 out of 10 – The greens have improved greatly over the years and survived the recent harsh Ontario winter well. For a public course there were not too many ball marks and the greens roll true. A few holes have tiers which provide challenge if on the wrong level. Fairways are consistently solid; good and consistent, but not excellent. Tee boxes have some inconsistency and on some holes reduced grass due to location and lack of sunlight but do not detract from the overall experience. Bunkers are average. In some instances there is a lack of sand, but they play consistent. Staff work hard to maintain the condition of the course and the condition has improved considerably over the past few years. Practice facilities are limited to a putting/chipping green and a net.
Overall Experience (how did the round make me feel; would I return) – 7.5 out of 10 – Acknowledging my bias, I really like this style of course. It feels open but requires attention as misses on some holes are penal. The layout – with its elevation changes – will test your game. I have always found the staff friendly and very helpful.
Highlight (what is great about the course) – Standing on the 9th tee in the fall is one of the most enjoyable golf experiences I can find within reasonable driving distance of my home.
Recommendation (magic wand…what would I change) – Identification of the course layout – I’ve been asked on many instances by groups how to get from hole 2 to 3. Hole 18 is now extremely difficult off the back tee boxes. It may require expanding the tee deck to make the landing area fairer. Improvements to their photo gallery to reflect the natural beauty of the region is a suggestion (although do scroll through their home page images, very nice!)
Just So You Know – Taking time to enjoy the patio or clubhouse after your round! Given the proximity to the city, the layout has a great, relaxed and rural feel to it. Critics will site pace of play as an issue, but this is something I’ve seldom experienced at Lowville.
My Best Shot – Par 3 15th, A well struck 5 hybrid to the 175 yard hole landed short and rolled up perfectly to 10 feet. The birdie putt went down and I realized I was even par. The feelings I had after was a combination of pride, surprise and a hint of anxiety. Entering the final (and challenging) three hole stretch saw some loose shots and my run at breaking par was lost, but what resulted was a career best +4, 75. No shame in the finish and overall a great round of golf!