Rees Jones Successfully Renovates One Of Canada’s Oldest Clubs
MONTCLAIR, N.J. – Lambton Golf and Country Club, a vintage Toronto club treated to a major renovation by Rees Jones, has attracted 50 new members to its ranks since the course reopened in August, 2010.
“We welcomed two dozen new members during the time the course was under construction and closed for a year starting in August, 2009,” said John Demko, Lambton’s COO. “We recruited an additional 26 members in 2011 and expect to welcome a dozen or more next year.” He added that the influx of new members is a testament to the excellence and appeal of the course revisions.
Jones, a classicist who has left his mark on several Canadian courses, notably The Royal Montreal Golf Club and London Hunt & Country Club, was brought in to superimpose a new course on top of the club’s existing layout, which dates to 1902.
“Members and their guests have remarked on the huge difference in the golf course at Lambton,” Jones said. “Among the many significant design changes, strategy and playability immediately come to mind. Visually, the new bunkers and broad vistas of the Humber River now enhance the golf experience.”
While the original corridors at Lambton were for the most part retained, a new hole was created at the north end of the course to facilitate the reservoir that will serve as the irrigation source for the course.
“The unused land along the Humber River provided a beautiful setting for a dramatic and scenic par-3 hole,” Jones said of the new fifth, which replaces the old second hole. The change allowed the design team to significantly improve the first hole by shifting it forward to create a strong opening par 4 that plays to the original second green site.
Jones pointed out that Lambton has a diverse array of topographical features. “The lower holes are routed on the valley floor near the Humber River,” he said. “A few holes occupy a shelf of land 50 feet above the river. The layout’s upper holes and clubhouse are situated atop another significant rise in elevation.” The design team opened up view corridors by thinning trees to improve both playability and turf conditions.
While the overall yardage of the club’s main course was increased by nearly 500 yards from the back tees, the design team shortened the course from the forward tees, providing women, seniors and juniors with a more playable and enjoyable venue. The new Lambton course now has five sets of tees stretching from 5,291 to 7,137 yards, par 72.
After Phases I and II of the master remodeling plan were completed, Phase III of the project centered on the reconfiguration of the 17th and 18th holes, which have been reversed.
“Members can now play two great holes at 17 and 18,” Jones stated. “No. 17 is a long par 3 playing along the edge of a steep slope with a bail-out along the left side of the hole. No. 18 is a 460-yard par 4 that doglegs slightly left and finishes at the back of the clubhouse.” Demko said these two outstanding holes, the final pieces in Lambton’s renovation puzzle, reopened to acclaim in June, 2011.
In addition to major tweaks to the two finishing holes on the main course, the design team has completed work on the club’s 9-hole Valley course, reputed to be the first course designed expressly for lady golfers. “We have retained the overall character of the Valley course,” Jones said of the layout, which reopened in October, 2011. “The greens are slightly larger and have more contour. There are few forced carries, resulting in more shot options.”