These days, Uplands is a nine-hole public course in Thornhill, Ontario - just north of dowtown Toronto. Back in 1922, when the course originally opened as a private 18-hole club, it was surely one of Toronto's best. The original design is credited to Stanley Thompson, who's brother Bill was elected Uplands' first president.
A report on developments at Uplands in the July 1922 issue of The Canadian Golfer magazine reads: There is sufficient room for two 18-hole courses... work will be commenced on one 18-hole course at once. The plans provide for two reversible 18-hole links starting and finishing at the clubhouse, a new feature in golf course construction in Canada, and one which should prevent over-crowding. Only one 18-hole course was ever built at Uplands. And, I'm not sure what's meant by 'reversible courses', as in a literal sense I can't see how reversible courses could properly function on such heaving ground. Uplands is a wildly undulating property - up and down, quirky and bumpy, the course isn't long, there aren't many bunkers, but it continues to look like 'plain fun'.
Back in 1988, Uplands was reduced to nine-holes. At the same time, it also became a public-access course. Seemingly crammed into an urban setting these days - with massive homes covering what is now 'the lost nine' and the private Thornhill club (another Thompson design) immediately adjacent - it's hard to believe there was once 'sufficient room for two 18-hole courses' at Uplands.
The aforementioned 8th hole (originally the 17th) is a sight to behold. Some 235 yards long, it's labelled a par 3 on the scorecard; which, in my view, definitely makes it one of Canada's toughest holes in relation to par.
As pictured below, Uplands' 8th plays from an elevated tee, through an extremely narrow corridor created by overgrown trees, to a super-tiny fronted by a steep, rough bank that eliminates any opportunity to run a ball onto the putting surface. Oh yeah, there's also a creek meandering along the left side, assisting to make a 'lay up' off the tee look as difficult as hitting the green. I watched three groups play this hole last week during my brief visit, and it seemed (almost) unplayable for the average green fee-paying golfer. There was a back-up on the tee, in fact, as people searched for balls then made illegal drops and, generally, carded high scores.
There's no doubt the tee shot was less constricting and not as frightening in the course's early days, but I still thought - imagine playing this hole in the mid-1920s, with an old ball and hickory shafted clubs!
Witness the 8th at Uplands:
|A view from the front of the back tee - frightening.|
(Click on all images to enlarge)
|The steep grass bank fronting the green, as viewed from|
short-right of the putting surface.
|The super-tiny green, which may measure less|
than 2,000 square feet - a daunting target from any
distance, never mind 235 yards.