Historic Mississaugua Golf and Country Club primed for world’s best

August 25, 2016

Nestled against the Credit River, within shouting distance of Lake Ontario and a mere 17 minutes (without traffic, of course) from downtown Toronto, lays one of the country’s most iconic and celebrated layouts.

And when Mississaugua Golf and Country Club hosts the World Junior Girls Championship in late-September, all eyes will once again be on the Percy Barrett/George Cumming/Donald Ross/Stanley Thompson design.

How about that for a Murder’s Row of golf-course designers?

“If you look at our history, our club has always had a big amateur tournament every four or five years. We’re constantly looking to host something from an amateur perspective, and for the World Junior Girls, it was a no-brainer,” says Mississaugua’s Head Teaching Professional Nick Starchuk. “It’s pretty special from a member perspective.”

Mississaugua has hosted the Canadian Open six times, and the first two champions were Walter Hagen (1931) and Sam Snead (1938), while names like Jones, Hogan, Player, Palmer, and Nicklaus have all traversed the historic links. In it’s centennial year (2006), the club hosted the Canadian Men’s Amateur Championship won by Richard Scott (his third).

The club has quite the golfing pedigree when it comes to great champions, and that’s not lost on those anxious to put the club once again on the world stage.

“It’s a old, traditional club. There’s a lot of tradition here,” says Starchuk. “Entering the grounds, you recognize this is a place that has been improving for the last 100 years. You know it’s going to be special.”

The course, a par 71, measuring 7,100 yards from the back tees (but more likely to play just under 6,000 yards for the World Junior Girls) features classic Stanley Thompson green sites meant to challenge and invigorate those who tee it up.

“The course is not going to give a flat lie, it’s not going to give a straight putt on the greens, and they’re going to have to deal with the Credit River,” explains Starchuck of the course’s many subtle challenges. “It’s a tighter course than this competition is used to.”

“It won’t be long for them, but it’s going to be challenging to hit the right tee shot, hit the right approach, and then make the putt. There are no easy pars out here,” he continues.

The holes that meander through the Valley will particularly be challenging for the girls. Holes four through 15, according to Director of Golf Dennis Firth, are ‘really strong.’

“They’re going to have to keep it in play all week,” states Firth. “Our rough has been very healthy all year despite the lack of rain and water. It’s a golf course that’s out in front of you, but it’s going to take just a complete effort from tee-to-green to score well.”

As far as the membership support goes, Mississaugua has been all-in since 2014 when the conversations first began to potentially host the event after Angus Glen and The Marshes the last two years.

“The momentum builds from the day you announce the event all the way to tournament week,” explains Firth. “(The excitement) continues to grow even though this tournament is relatively new in its lifespan. With Brooke (Henderson) competing just two years ago and seeing the meteoric rise of her and her game, it brings a lot of excitement.”

And not only will the Brooke Henderson Effect be on display in September, but Mississaugua is hoping one of their own makes the field as well.

Chloe Currie, a member at the venerable club, is in the running to be a part of Team Canada, having won some prestigious junior events this year. If she does make the team, Starchuck says it’s likely her private school in Oakville will take a day off to come and watch her making the potential “huge for the club.”

Starchuck says there wasn’t really a junior program at Mississaugua before he arrived five years ago. Now, it’s a thriving entity of the club.

“A big percentage of our juniors compete regionally, and some compete internationally. We have a junior program that is not an after-school thing,” he says. “You’re going to be in a program to play tournaments, and you’re going to win. We have 10 wins this year alone for kids at the club.”

Regardless of if Currie makes the team or not, the club will be a proud host, and, at least according to Starchuck, it can’t wait to get started.

“Being able to see this tournament at Angus Glen, and then at my home course in Ottawa, it’s massive,” he says. “It’s really big, and we’re so excited.”