Course Review: Lakeview Golf Course

Lakeview Hole 11 Fairway

Municipal golf courses tend to be overlooked in the world of golf. For starters, they’re often the cheapest options in the city, and subconsciously, we associate price with quality (if I’m paying more I expect better). As a result, municipal courses are dominated by novice golfers, causing pace of play issues, and perhaps, poor conditioning due to the lack of insight into the etiquette of golf.

With all these preconceived notions, it can be tough to appreciate a good municipal golf course. Enter: Lakeview Golf Course.

Herbert Strong is not a name known around Canada, but perhaps it should be. He was an excellent golden age architect, primarily responsible for Canterbury in Cleveland, and Engineers outside of New York City.

What most don’t know, however, is he did a bit of work in Canada. He was the original architect at Manoir Richelieu in the Charlevoix region of Quebec, and he also designed Lakeview Golf Course adjacent to Toronto Golf Club in Mississauga.

Starting out, the opening hole is a slightly crammed short par 4. At 335 yards, it’s likely less than driver for most. Interestingly, like St. George’s, Toronto, Mississaugua, Rosedale, Scarboro and other Toronto courses, Lakeview also works around a river at the bottom of the property. The opening hole plays down in that valley.

Lakeview Hole 1

On the approach, two bunkers left and one right frame the green. The main defence, as with most of Herbert Strong courses, are the crazy green contours, which you get a taste of on the first with its severely back-to-front tilt.

Lakeview Hole 1 Fairway

The second is a brilliant golf hole. After the relatively benign introduction at the first, the 426-yard second is a bit more meaty. Playing to a generous landing area, getting the tee ball in play is critical.

Lakeview Hole 2

A ditch bisects the hole and every golfer has to play across it. I imagine back in the day, when the golfer missed the fairway, this was much more in play, but today it’s nice to look at. Mounding wraps the back of the green, while a single bunker left and right protect the complex.

Lakeview Hole 2 Fairway

From the second green, you also get a wonderful view of the river valley in which the golfer dives up and down on the back nine. This sort of foreshadowing—just like a well-written novel—provides anticipation throughout, all while the reader/golfer has a looming thought of “where is that?”

Lakeview Hole 2 Green

The third is a delicate little 136-yard par 3. Pressed up against bush to the right, with a slightly elevated green, it requires a bit more attention than the scorecard lets on.

Lakeview Hole 3
The fourth is a shorter par 4 at 381 yards. With a straight tee shot, a bunker complex on the right hides a pond behind. Staying away from the right is best.

Lakeview Hole 4

I think my biggest takeaway when playing Golden Age designs is the green location selection. There’s often so much variety, and they always found a way to bring different ravines or ridges into play. On the fourth, yet again, the golfer plays over the depression area that came into play on the second to a green tucked much closer than the previous iteration.

Lakeview Hole 4 Fairway

The fifth is a monster par 5 at 596 yards where Strong asks the golfer for their biggest drive of the day.

Lakeview Hole 5

The second shot is all about getting it to a spot you’re comfortable approaching the green from or getting it up as far as possible (depending on if you hit the fairway).

Lakeview Hole 5 Fairway

To the right of the layup area, some beautiful chocolate drop mounding.

Lakeview Hole 5 Right

The approach shot looks relatively simple…

Lakeview Hole 5 Layup

…until you get to the green and you realize how good the complex is. An upside-down bowl, or perhaps a turtleback, shots feed away from the centre of the green. Like Pinehurst No. 2, the pin looks like it’s barely on the green on the back half. Absolutely brilliant.

Hole 5 Lakeview Green

Turning back towards the fifth tee box, the sixth is a long 441-yard par 4 into the teeth of the wind. One mean bunker complex on the left — curiously utilizing the “Merion Eyelashes” (fescue growing out of the back side to provide a look like eyelashes) — on the left side of the fairway awaits.

Lakeview Hole 6

This is just another excellent green complex. A ton of movement towards the front left and two bunkers on the right are exactly where I’d imagine you’d hit it with a longer club if you needed the ball to feed. Even more-so in the early 1900’s when some were coming in with Mashies, this would be a stout par 4.

Lakeview Hole 6 Fairway

The seventh is a short par 5 doglegging to the right. In the landing zone off the tee, a single tree on the inside corner of the dogleg pushes shots to the left.

Lakeview Hole 7

This is likely a good birdie opportunity for most. Getting around the corner off the tee sets up a very good chance to get home in two.

Lakeview Hole 7 Fairway

For those who elect to layup, a bunker left comes into play. The green complex, sandwiched into the corner of the property, is fronted by a bunker left. The front pin location is particularly dicey as the front entry is quite small.

Lakeview Hole 7 Green

It’s not the strongest hole, but I think the seventh is a part of what makes Lakeview so special. Firstly, the contrast with the long par 5 fifth is brilliant. It’s close to 120 yards shorter! These different looks provide a lot of interest day to day.

It also gives a bit of insight into Herbert Strong’s routing prowess. Working towards the corner of the square property, he certainly could have routed it directly against the property line on the right. This would have created safety issues and pace of play issues, even when the course opened. His decision to extend it left and swing it back right, squeezing the green into the corner, is a wonderful move to make each shot on the short par 5 play harder, and bring O.B. more and more into play the further along you go.

The eighth is an awkward hole. At 353 yards, it’s short, but the creek is located at weird yardages. It’s not a long carry, and perhaps it’s the trees pinching the landing area, but the entire thing is just a bit odd for me.

Lakeview Hole 8

Part of what makes it an awkward hole is the visuals. You don’t get a good sense of what’s there. A closer look at the landing area and creek.

Lakeview Hole 8 Fairway

After the tee shot, it’s back to business with a wickedly tilted green to the front.

Lakeview Hole 8 Green

Offsetting the short par 3, third, the long par 3, ninth, clocking in at 217 yards, is a wonderful long three. Two bunkers on the front right side of the green defend the ideal line to the green sloping to the front left.

Lakeview Hole 9

As you approach the green, you realize the contours are much more extreme than it appears. In fact, three dominant ridges separate this green complex. As opposed to some of the modern architects who build two or three big ridges into their greens, these are small enough to be graceful to go over, but big enough to cause a headache on the wrong level.

Lakeview Hole 9 Green

The second of back-to-back par 3’s kicks off the back nine over the entry road. 151 yards, it’s a much more manageable hole.

Lakeview Hole 10

The 11th is another excellent mid-length par 4 of 421 yards. The tee shot plays over a small ridge to a semi-blind landing area.

Lakeview Hole 11

Yet again, the green site selection is optimal, with the 11th green being cut on top of the hillside, falling off to the left.

Lakeview Hole 11 Fairway

The 338-yard par 4, 12th starts the stretch down in the river valley. The tee shot is pretty awful in 2020. Hitting downhill towards the river, it’s nothing more than a flip iron to stay short. For those who think they want to get aggressive, perhaps don’t. It’s something of a 90-degree dogleg, and I’m not even sure where you’d aim.

Lakeview Hole 12

But once you turn the corner, my goodness, what a golf hole. The green, cut on top of the knob some 30 or so feet above the golfer, provides an exhilarating wedge shot.

Lakeview Hole 12 Green

The 13th is another strong par 4 at 424 yards. Doglegging to the left, the fairway best accepts a slight draw around the trees.

Lakeview Hole 13

Three bunkers short of the green will not come into play, but provide a great look at what a potential restoration at Lakeview would drastically improve. A restoration of these three deception bunkers would blend in with the green complex and the surrounding bunkers, and make an approach shot from the right side — the sub-optimal side — look menacing.

Lakeview Hole 13 Fairway

This green complex, especially for a middle to longer par 4, is quite small, and with the ridge running east-west through the middle, it plays quite a bit smaller.

Lakeview Hole 13 Green

The 14th works its way back to the 12th green complex. Another shortie at 344 yards, avoiding the bunkers on the left, curiously employing the ‘Eyelash’ look yet again, is ideal.

Lakeview Hole 14

The green complex slightly narrows towards the back, sandwiched between the harsh fall off left, right and long.

Lakeview Hole 14 Fairway

The 15th is an excellent, and frankly superb, golf hole. 331 yards, this hole swings hard to the left.

Lakeview Hole 15

From the fairway, there’s a big bunker cut into the hillside short that hides anything over it. You can see the flag, but it’s a mostly-blind second shot in.

Lakeview Hole 15 Fairway

As you approach to the green, you realize the bunker isn’t in play.

Lakeview Hole 15 Bunker

Finishing off on a high note, one of Canada’s best green complexes awaits. Take a look for yourself, but pictures do not do it justice.

Lakeview Hole 16 Green

The 16th is a bit of an awkward par 5, but quite a fun risk-reward chance down the stretch. At 476 yards, it’s certainly reachable in two. To get there, the line off the tee is much further left with modern technology than you’d think.

Lakeview Hole 16

I’ve never been a fan of being entirely blocked out on the second shot on a reachable par 5 (it sort of nulls the concept of a reachable par 5, and doesn’t encourage the hero recovery shot). Part of why I think the 16th is awkward is anything right fairway is likely a pitch towards or over the creek.

Lakeview Hole 16 Fairway

For those who manage to cut the corner on the left, you’ll have a nice look down. The hole narrows up quite dramatically between the stream on the left and a hillside right, and the green itself is quite narrow.

Lakeview Hole 16 Fairway 2

Another look at this green complex, which is quite a doozy.

Lakeview Hole 16 Green

The 17th is a wonderful little golf hole. At 95 yards, it’s nothing more than a flip wedge for most, but finding the green is incredibly difficult.

Lakeview Hole 17

A look at the green surrounds, which are just nasty:

Lakeview Hole 17 Green

From the short pitch 17th to the healthy 454-yard closer, Lakeview’s flow is excellent. A tough tee shot, two bunkers left and the same stream that dominated the back nine runs up the right.

Lakeview Hole 18

From there, the elevated green complex is awesome, with a bit of a false front. No bunkers are needed here; what a closer.

Lakeview Hole 18 Fairway

I’ll admit: Lakeview is likely not for everyone. It’s a bit rough around the edges after decades of neglect, but for those who can look past the municipal golf course conditioning and occasional pace of play issues, it’s a ton of fun. Some of the country’s best green complexes, as well as a strong routing and a lot of interesting shots, make Lakeview one of the best deals in Canada, and one of the provinces best public options.

Dare I say it: Top 100 in Canada.

10 thoughts on “Course Review: Lakeview Golf Course

  1. Mike says:

    Your review is fair, but you failed to discuss the rich history of Lakeview on the Canadian golf scene and is therefore incomplete. Lakeview hosted two Canadian Opens in 1923 and 1934 and several other Canadian amateur and professional events. And even though Herbert Strong is credited for redesigning the course in 1921, it was Stanley Thompson that did all the field work in 1920-21 according to the Stanley Thompson society, further enriching its place in the Canadian golf.

    Also, there are some holes that never play to their stated yardages from the blue tees, as these tees are virtually never used in regular play , only for tournaments. The blue tee for 11 is actually closer to the 10th tee and the 18th is actually above the 17th green, which requires a shot over the heads of those on the 17th green. So the actual playing yardage for the blue tees is less than stated on the card. During the Canadian Tour’s Jane Rogers Championship held at Lakeview in 2007 and 2008, the course was played as
    par 70, with the 7th hole playing as a very solid par 4.

    • Steve Mallin says:

      And that 7th hole originally was a great par 4 until a past superintendent thought making it 40 yards longer and making it a 5 was a good idea. I’d strongly disagree. The original par 4 tee (now the ladies tee) brings ob into play. It should have never been bumped to a par 71. It’s as strong a par 70 as you can find. If you ever play twilight or when it’s not busy tee one up on the ladies tee on 7 and you’ll find it’s one of the best 420 yard par 4’s around vs. being a defenceless par 5.

  2. James says:

    Nice write up! Just a quick comment, Strong’s course just outside of NYC is actually called Engineers (he is also credited as designer for another Long Island gem; Nassau Country Club — along with Metropolis CC where Jackie Burke Jr started his club pro career).

    Having played all of the above, Lakeview has Strong’s fingerprints all over it, especially when one looks at greens like 1, 5, 6, 8, 9, 13, 16 and 17. It’s just a really fun little track that fits in really well with Strong’s other challenging offerings.

    Great stuff for an oldie but a goodie. Hopefully conditions will improve as more people begin to appreciate it and understand its noted contributions to Canadian golf history.

    • QuentinJJ says:

      The greens that you mentioned are so interesting. Is there an elephant or a VW buried under 5? No fun being above the hole at 8.

  3. Duane G says:

    Another great review. Definitely makes me want to revisit this course, even though I live at the opposte end of the GTA. Definitely remember the challenges of the greens there and the large trees troughout the property.

  4. Wetcoaster says:

    Nice review. Great pics. I’ve been playing Lakeview since the mid 90’s. It’s one of the few courses that I play regularly that I can’t find anything to criticize. I guess that’s a criticism 🙂 But as far as the holes and greens go, they’re really good; your pics do them justice. Kinda wish the 7th teebox was pushed back 30 yards, they have the room. So the second shot over that *nice* tree in mid fairway would be easier because I would be 30 yds short of it instead of underneath it. That tree wasn’t a problem 20 yrs ago… Speaking of absent trees, it was a good day when that huge beast guarding the corner of the 12th above the bell went down. Now you can aim your tee shot where it use to be, not necessarily to go for the green but to land your tee shot closer to the hole .

  5. Steve Mallin says:

    Great review! I grew up here and it’s so underrated with all the old private clubs in the area. One of the coolest things most people don’t know is the 17th used to be surrounded by 7 or 8 pot bunkers so with the green sloping so much from back to front hitting one long or spinning it off the front could become a disaster. I forget the exact number but apparently Snead had a big lead going into 17 in the Canadian Open once and made a 9 or 10 there and lost by 1. Not really the postage stamp but I always called it the looney.

  6. Raul Cooke says:

    If you are going to play a Toronto city run golf course, don’t . Take the time and drive that extra 20min. This course is worth the trip..

  7. StevieRed says:

    This course got a way better review than it’s worth in my opinion. For a muni it’s well kept, I admit, but if you’re playing weekends or peak hours expect to be waiting a lot in between holes and the marshals are non existent in the course at almost all times. It’s a nice looking course for sure, just don’t hit your ball into another fairway or someone will claim it for themselves.

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