Canada’s Great Golf Holes: The 5th at Uplands Golf & Ski Area

Uplands
At one point, Uplands Golf & Ski Area was one of Canada’s premiere golf courses from a then-budding architect Stanley Thompson. It was often referred to as the “Blue Collar St. George’s,” featuring similar design elements.

Unfortunately, the club sold off 10 of their holes and added a short par 3 at the top of the property in the 1980’s, and the acclaimed reputation was lost.

Thankfully, the Thompson holes that remain show the exciting architecture found in this still-excellent nine hole course, and one of the true standouts is the 391-yard par 4, 5th.

This uphill mid length par 4 brings the golfer to the top of the property, climbing out of the valley that skiers enjoy in the winter months. The tee shot turns to the left over a big ridge. With modern technology, a draw is preferred if the golfer chooses driver.

Uplands

The abundance of interesting landforms makes this a hole to remember.

Uplands

The fairway, weaving up the hill, reminds us of the nickname Uplands rightfully wore for years: the Blue Collar St. George’s. In fact, macro-undulations like this are hard to find in Canada, and thus should be treasured.

Uplands

The approach continues to climb up the hill, to a plateau green site sitting on a knob, but rather gentle contours graze. To illustrate how good this hole is, a single bunker was needed to be interesting, and I’d even argue it’s redundant at the back of the green.

Uplands

A closer look at the tame green complex.

Uplands

After navigating the slopes, the golfer is greeted with a wonderful view back down the hole, with the land movement in full force showing off.

Uplands

For the golfer who has been lucky enough to play both Uplands and St. George’s, they will reminisce of the 15th at St. George’s looking back, with the
view of the city, the steep climb and the sidewinding fairway through some intense contours.

Uplands

Keep in mind: This hole would’ve been the 15th back when Thompson designed Uplands, starting an extremely strong finishing stretch.

The 5th at Uplands is a stunning hole, and one that reminds us that architecture at its best is simple with restrain to let the land do the talking.

7 thoughts on “Canada’s Great Golf Holes: The 5th at Uplands Golf & Ski Area

  1. Brent Hemsley says:

    Just played Uplands for the first time this summer. Really enjoyed it; interesting that you are writing on this hole as one of Canada’s great golf holes…it is the par 3 8th hole that has long been regarded as one of the best holes in Canada. I also thought the par 3 6th was a beauty! It is such an interesting little 9-hole course, making me wish I could hop in a time machine and play the full 18 as Stanley laid it out!

  2. 3whack says:

    Hi Andrew – thanks for this post as it brings back great memories. In my mid-teens, I played a ton of golf here during the early/mid 1970s and I haven’t been back since. It was quite a place filled with many of Ontario’s top amateur golfers as well as frequent visits by Moe Norman. And this was a wonderful hole although my recollection is that it was the 11th hole rather than the 15th. Keep up the good work.

    • Dave Govan says:

      I agree with 3whack, this was the eleventh hole. Also, the tee for this hole was much closer to the (now) 3rd tee, and quite a hard right hand dog-leg. Here’s my history at Uplands. My Father was a Pro there in the mid 60’s. There was a house at the far (north) end of the lower parking lot, owned by the club, that I lived in. Sadly, it is now gone. I was a junior member at the club, as was my Brother, for many years in the seventies, just like 3whack. I played too many rounds at that course count. Everyone liked the course, back in the day, with its treacherous greens, interesting holes, and of course, a Stanley Thompson design. That said, here is my take today. This is a total s**t hole of a golf course. It should not even be open for business. I played it in the fall of 2020 as an homage to my recently deceased Brother, and boy was I disappointed. The course is under construction in so many places it doesn’t even play like the course it is, and the conditions are a joke. The re-routing of holes, and modified tee locations, are the least of its problems. Hole 4 tee decks and fairway were all mud, with heavy equipment machinery scattered about. Hole 6 is a new hole, a par three, was created to fill in missing original holes, and doesn’t even feel like it belongs with the rest of the holes. Hole 9 has an upper plateau, a lower plateau, and a green over the river from the lower plateau. As a par five hole, a golfer should have the option of hitting from the upper plateau, to the lower plateau, before playing to the green. However, the lower plateau is closed, and is mud, and more heavy machinery scattered about. Lastly, the condition of the greens was embarrassing, not withstanding, these might be the sloppiest (is that a word?) greens you will ever play. Overall, too bad for uplands. I say, save your money and go play somewhere better, say, Don Valley, Humber Valley, Watsons Glen, and any number of courses in the area. End of rant. Sorry.

  3. Joe Miller says:

    It’s a very good hole, but it’s not even the best, most dramatic, or most memorable hole at Uplands. Anybody that plays Uplands for the first time, the 8th is the one you remember.

    • D. Lee says:

      I agree, the 8th is the hardest (par 3, 223 yds) and most scenic. Requires a drive from a tee elevated over a narrow valley with trees to the right and a stream to the left. To top things off, the green is on a plateau cut in the hillside coming out of the valley. The only thing that spoils this hole is the hydro tower in the distance – probably wasn’t there when Mr. Thompson designed the course.

  4. Uplands80s says:

    Like 3whack said, it was always known as the 11th hole years ago. Uplands was a great place to play and learn the game. For me it was during the 80s and there were some amazing players from Uplands back then. I haven’t been back since then, it would be nice to go play nine and reminisce. Interestingly, I remember the tee shot as a dogleg right calling for a fade to cut the corner.

  5. Pat Mullrooney says:

    I believe you mentioned this being the original 15th hole but I recall it being the 11th. The original 15th was a par 3
    I was a member of Uplands back in the 1960-70’s

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