Review: Royal Montreal – Red Course

Bronze plaque on entrance gate
Bronze plaque on entrance gate

I took some vacation time from work this past week and packed up the family for a week on the south shore of  Montreal visiting the in-laws.

While it wasn’t billed as a golf vacation, I was lucky enough to arrange three games while in town. The first stop, Wednesday morning was the West Island’s Royal Montreal.

I was lucky enough to be invited to Royal Montreal (RMGC) in 2014 to play the Blue course a month after the RBC Canadian Open was played there. I was privileged to be invited back this year to play the Red Course.

The 18th green of the Red Course with the Club house in the background
The 18th green of the Red Course with the Club house in the background

Royal Montreal is known for the blue course, host of the 2014 RBC Canadian Open and the 15th ranked course in Canada according to SCOREGolf, but the red course deserves some credit as it is more than just the other course at Royal Montreal.

Getting There

If one lived on the West Island of Montreal or a bit west of Montreal proper I suspect it is relatively easy to get to RMGC, For everyone else I suspect it is more or less a nightmare. On Wednesday it took me over an hour to drive the 45km from the south shore to the club and the same time, if not a bit longer to get back.

The course is located in Ile Bizard, north of highway 40  off the St-Jean exit in a seemingly middle class neighborhood (until you turn left through the gates of the club).

The Course

A par 71 playing between  5500 and 6800 yards, it is rated just about to par from the white tees (70.6) and beyond par for the blue and gold tees. Scorecard can be found here.

A hole by hole photo gallery can be found here.

From the tee the Red Course doesn’t play all that intimidating. Most tee shots are straight forward without much trouble except for a few fairway bunkers here and there. The more you play the course I suspect the more you start to see where to place your tee shots for optimal approach shots.

The par 3s are a good mix of long and short with two over 175 and two under.

The real challenge for the Red Course is your approach shots. Most of the greens are small and well protected by bunkers. When I played the Blue course in 2014 the advice that was given to me was all the danger is in front, so long is better. The same could be said for the red course, you didn’t want to be short of the green with your approach.

The greens are interesting in that they are almost slow when putting against the grain, but lightning when putting with the grain. There are no straight putts on any green of the red course, at least that I could find.

It goes without saying that the conditions of the course are outstanding. There isn’t much more you can say about that.

The most memorable hole on the Red Course for me was the par 4 17th, which was a great short par 4. The green was small, very narrow and well protected by bunkers, so even though the hole was short, the key was to find the right angle to approach the green, too far left off the tee and most approach shots would be hard pressed to stay on the green, but down the right hand side a perfect window opens up.

Practice facilities

Royal Montreal features a dual range (hit from both sides), a very large putting green and a multi greened chipping area. The driving range has both artificial and natural turf.

While the amenities are first rate, the downside is the practice area is really spread out. If you want to hit off natural turf you have to take a cart to the other side of the range. From the range the chipping area is on the other side of the parking lot and clubhouse. The putting green however is centrally located in front of the pro shop between the first tee of the Blue course and the first tee of the Red course.

Clubhouse

In the two times I have been I have seen parts of the clubhouse. The place is massive and I suspect many members haven’t even seen the whole thing.

I have had lunch and drinks there, as expected the food and service was exceptional.

Bits and Bites

  • For the second year in a row I played like a shmuck at RMGC. Although I was content with a back nine 40 (par 36).
  • Royal Montreal is the oldest golf club in North America, formed in 1873 as a 9 hole course in Mont Royal Park. In 1896 the club moved to Dorval and in 1959 to its current location.
  • The last Canadian to win the Canadian Open was Pat Fletcher, he did it in 1954, at RMGC. He served as head pro at RMGC from 1955 – 1975.

See you at the turn,

Brewcee

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