Course Review – BraeBen – Not Your Typical Muni
Municipal golf courses need not fall within the stereotype of under-maintained tracks which juniors learn their game growing up on and skilled players avoid. There are two communities I am familiar with that would scoff at that stereotype and simply showcase one of their courses that present quality courses with rich history. Hamilton, Ontario has the well respected and underrated King’s Forest Golf Course and Mississauga, Ontario has Lakeview Golf Course which hosted Canadian Open championships in 1923 and 1934. Mississauga’s second municipal course lacks the history but presents a unique design and quality golfing experience. BraeBen Golf Course is located in East Credit, just east of Streetsville, within the city. It is easy to spot from large swaths of the city as it is built high a top reclaimed landfill space. The design is links-style with long grasses, large greens, elevation change and relentless winds throughout its crowned landscape being its defences.
BraeBen is not overly long, playing 6335 from the tips. But accuracy is a premium. The course is well maintained but gets considerable play as evident with tee box wear and greens – while rolling well – faced with some ball marks. This does not detract from the golf experience; however I always play municipal courses with a mindset that balances expectation with volume of play.
The par 72 course features 5 par 5’s and 5 par 3’s. There are scoring opportunities on certain holes but this is often predicated around the wind direction. Downwind holes provide a distinct advantage. Most of the front nine is played around the lower perimeter of the property before moving inward and upward to the crown of the property for much of the back nine.
The course is walkable but there are some holes with significant elevation change and the gap between holes 9 and 10 will take a few minutes for a walker to get to the tee box.
There is little water on the course except for a significant pond protecting the downhill par 3 7th hole. Otherwise, sand traps (including some fairway traps on 1, 12 and most notably 15) and fescue will mean accuracy beats length here. The greens are large and run at a consistent and quick speed. Undulation, as it found throughout the course, will require attention to avoid 3 (or 4) putting.
The facilities at BraeBen also include a well maintained 9-hole Academy Course and a driving range set within the course near the top of the crown. This 9-hole par 3 layout is on the southern side of the property and is a relaxed and enjoyable layout but maintained to the same standards as their championship course.
I enjoy the closing stretch of holes; the reachable in two par 5 16th which invites long hitters to cut off the dogleg on a blind uphill approach. The short par 4 17th is an excellent golf hole that invites driver but playing smart affords excellent chances for birdies. The closing par 5, while straight forward is littered with bunkers and troubles for players who miss right off the tee. Still, it is a stretch to get strokes back or build on a strong round.
The layout is stout and the conditioning is well maintained and overall provides a quality and enjoyable golfing experience in the heart of the city.
Aura – 6.5 out of 10 – While many may feel this is not even the best municipal course in Mississauga, it is certainly the most distinct. BraeBen has worked hard with the city to market itself and both City courses are also available on GTA Golf Club.
Value (cost / experience) – 7 out of 10 – with a peak greens fee of $75 + taxes (weekend with cart) this is not the best value play in the area but for a large urban centre to have a course of very good quality that is mere minutes away, you will save on gas money. Also, the twilight and morning walking rates are very solid.
Course Condition (fairways/greens, layout) – 7.5 out of 10. This is where the course excels and also suffers – allow me to explain. The course gets considerable traffic and the tee boxes and greens reflect that. However, the greens crew works well to maintain the course and the fairways are very good, bunkering is great for a municipal course and the overall conditioning is good. The players need to show more respect for the course in tending to pitch marks on the green. I will say the conditioning of the 9 hole academy course is as consistently good as the championship course. It is a superb play for beginners, juniors and people seeking a quick nine holes (all par 3’s).
Overall Experience (how did the round make me feel; would I return) – 7.5 out of 10 – I like the fact that less than 5km from my home is a course which will test all facets of my game, give me great opportunities to improve playing in the wind, and, when I am playing well, to score decently. The city and the greens crew work to maintain the course well and if the players shared the same sentiments this score would improve but make no mistake, BraeBen is an enjoying and challenging track.
Highlight (what is great about the course) – The course gets everything they can from this layout. The views of the city and surrounding area are some of the best in the GTA. I played once and saw a storm cell track south over the lakeshore and it was impressive to see. Every time I’ve played BraeBen has been a challenging and enjoyable golf experience. There are some stout par 3’s and par 5’s. The wind and the fescue make the par 4’s very challenging.
Recommendation (magic wand…what would I change) – There are no membership options. Even a limited number of memberships or a value purchase option would be helpful but this does not exist and as such I feel like I am driven to explore other value options less convenient. I would like the city to explore this and consider a change to the policy here.
Overall – The City of Mississauga has done very good work in the development and maintenance of BraeBen. The championship course is unique and enjoyable and along with their smaller Academy course, BraeBen offers golf opportunities for players of all skill and experience in a convenient urban location.