Review: Shaughnessy Golf & Country Club

Information:

  • Vancouver, British Columbia
  • Private
  • AV Macan (1961)
  • 18th in Canada (ScoreGolf)

Shaughnessy is one of Canada’s most historic courses, playing host to the Canadian Open in 1948, 1966, 2005, and as recently as 2011. It was the first golf course in Western Canada to host, and one of three courses west of Manitoba to host. Shaughnessy also has an interesting history, and the current course is not actually the original golf course.

The original golf course, Shaughnessy Heights Golf Club, opened in 1912, which was also designed by AV Macan.

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Shaughnessy Heights Golf Club

The original golf course was between the 33rd and 37th East Avenues, east of Granville, and across Oak Street, as seen below for the approximate area.

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The current golf course opened for play in 1961, on a property on the Fraser River. Below is the distance between the two properties:

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But that’s enough history for now, let’s get into the actual golf course!


Shaughnessy starts off on a good foot with a really short par 5 that plays as a 4 for the RBC Canadian Open. You’ll notice that there is quite a few par 5’s on this golf course, and that’s because there’s 5, making it a par 73 for member play, something you don’t see every day.

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The 475 yard opener requires a draw off the tee or three wood otherwise you’ll end up in the right fairway. Not like the right rough is that bad, other than the big tree that needs a fade to get around. But it’s not like you’re X in the right fairway.

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What I really liked on the 1st hole is the bunker short right actually has a false front style run off into the bunker, shaved down to fairway. A pretty neat way to add a bit of protection to a fairly easy hole to start.

The second hole is a 389 yard par 4, slightly moving to the left. It’s a fairly simple hole, with not much going on off the tee. The rumor going around is there was a cross bunker in the middle of the fairway when the course first opened, which would definitely add some interest.

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The club is currently doing work to the course to improve it, such as removing almost everything Les Furber did in the 90s (thank goodness), and a lot of tree removal. We’ll get more into some of the changes on some of the holes on the back where the work is evident.

The approach here is a fairly cool green, framed nicely by a tree and a couple bunkers. The green complexes at Shaughnessy are good, but nothing worth running home about. There’s a lot of slope here and I didn’t have a flat putt all day.

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The 3rd is a reverse redan style hole. The entire green slopes to the back right. At 200 yards, it does require a somewhat running shot, as I don’t know anyone personally who can fly a 5 iron uphill to a firm green running away from you and stop it on the dot. The bunker right is quite deep, so avoid that, and anything short is a chip running down the hill so it’s best to hit a good shot here (as it’s always best to hit a good shot!).

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The fourth is the only hole I had a somewhat issue with at Shaughnessy. At 418 yards, the hole snaps left, in a boomerang way left. A bunker right at 226 yards off the black tees makes you force a literal hook off the tee.

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The player has a lot more room left than you think, but left is blocked out from the green by trees. It is safe on grass, though, which knowing that now takes some relief off the tee shot.

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I think this hole would be a lot better if they moved the bunker up a bit. Instead of being 226 off the tee, 250 would be better, as it would still give you the risk-reward option off the tee of hitting a draw and getting a shorter club in, but you can still hit a club at the bunker and have iron in. Right now, if you hit a club at the bunker you’d be going 4 iron-4 iron, which is awkward for sure.

The good news: the green complex here is one of the best at the club, with a saddle style green.

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The 5th is another par 5 that plays as a par 4 for the Canadian Open. At 471 yards, slightly uphill, it’s quite short, but bunkers on the right at 242 yards and 274 yards past the complex are the main defence off the tee.

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After putting the ball in the fairway, the player is asked to fly the creek that’s short of the green. Four bunkers also surround this green complex.

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The 6th is a 428 yard par 4, moving a hair to the right up the hill again.

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The bunker you see in the distance is the only hazard on this hole, greenside short left. It guards the entire left portion of the hole, and if the pin was anywhere on the left it would absolutely be in play.

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The 7th is fairly straightforward until the green complex. and frankly quite boring for the first 500 or so yards. At 551 yards, a little uphill on the tee shot, it does play fairly long, especially at sea level.

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I do like the green complex here, as it does slope away from the front. I enjoy the greens here because they’re not all front to back, there is some variety.

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The 8th is yet another 210 yard par 3 up the hill. Somehow from hole 5 to 9 they all plays up, but the 8th is the only one that’s a club up.

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The 9th moves up the hill to the left, getting close to the Pacific Ocean. At 421 yards, it’s a healthy 4, but nothing too long. A bunker on the right is about 275 or so to get to, and acts as a good line with a club short of that, or turning it off.

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Bunkers left and right of this green are the main defence here, but other than that, it’s a fairly straightforward hole.

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The front side at Shaughnessy is the more mundane, slightly boring, championship style. The back side is a better collection of golf holes, starting with the downhill 10th at 453 yards.

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I’m told that behind this green got a lot of trees cleared out to improve visibility, and now you can see 17 behind this hole. It’s a nice approach down the hillside.

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The 11th is one of the best holes in my opinion. 520 yards on the card, this risk-reward par 5 entices the player to hitting the green in two. A slew of bunkers around the green, plus some bush short left and some of the natural undulations make this a tough green to approach. The tee shot is below!

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The 11th tee shot from the blue tee box

Once you get the ball in play, you have a really good second shot in:

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If you elect to layup, the dip in the fairway is actually 100 yards even, so the golfer is to decide if he wants to layup short and have a bigger wedge or short iron in, hit it to the bottom and have a short wedge from a tough location down low, or layup on the other side and have a mere pitch in. Lovely stuff!

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Looking back at the hole, you can see some of the land movement, and one of the Les Furber bunkers in the very back (close in the photo), that’s getting removed.

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The 12th is a shorter par 3 at 173 yards, playing away from the Ocean at your back. Two bunkers left and right, plus another Les Furber bunker over the back (thats coming out soon) are the defence here, but this green features a lot of movement.

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The 13th is a bit longer of a par 4 at 442 yards. The hole moves ever-so-slightly to the left off the tee, with a bunker at 271 yards off the tee guarding the fairway.

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The approach here has a lovely view looking towards 17 and up 10, which is fairly new thanks to the recent efforts of clearing some of the shrub and tree. The green here is wicked though, with lots of movement and quite hard to hold even with a full wedge that I had.

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The 14th is the shortest par 4 on the golf course, drivable for the big hitters at 315 to the middle. It’s only 299 to the front, so on a good day you could get it there.

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A total of six bunkers guard this green and the approach shot, starting at 236 yards off the tee.

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The green is quite small, with a front tongue guarded by two bunkers left, it’s hard to get it on the surface.

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The 15th then starts the journey home, with a massive bunker on the left side of the fairway starting at 277 yards and having a carry of 313 yards.

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The 15th moves to the left over the edge of the bunker, but plays the entire 577 yards. Especially the day I played, as it was straight into the wind, it was definitely a three shot par 5!

The green has four bunkers, plus a bunker about 75 yards from the green, making the hole tougher the closer you get.

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The 16th is a lovely shorter par 4, measuring a maximum distance of 372 yards. Bunkers pinch the landing area at about 100 yards. It’s about 289 yards to carry the bunkers entirely, but I would suggest leaving a full club in.

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The lovely bunker complex on the inside corner of the dogleg right, shown below.

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The green is another one sloping away from the player, making for a really difficult wedge shot. Three bunkers also help demand accuracy.

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The 17th then is my favorite hole on the course. 158 yards, this hole doesn’t play long at all, but it plays over some pretty interesting land to a green that’s quite wild, sloping hard to the right.

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Amazing views of the Pacific Ocean in the background, but this is where the work at Shaughnessy is most evident. Three bunkers used to be on the left, and a huge tree used to be guarding the front-right portion. You also used to not be able to see the Ocean (shame), but thanks to Jeff Mingay, he reverted these changes made by Les Furber in the 90s and restored this beautiful short par 3.

Below is a photo of some of the land the 17th plays over.

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The 18th is an absolute monster finisher, a stout 474 yard, par 4 to close.

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Bunkers on the left start at 292 yards, and are a full carry of 338, meaning the bunkers are in play for almost everyone with driver. The approach is guarded by a bunker short left, short right, and long right, and a green that’s got its fair share of slope and undulation.

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A tough finisher for solid test of a golf course, Shaughnessy is the real deal.

Would I say it’s the 18th best golf course in Canada? It’s hard to say for me right now because I’m only at 20 courses in the top 100, but I could see it being a touch overrated in the national lists. That’s not to say it’s not a fantastic golf course, because it absolutely is, and it’ll only continue to get better with Jeff Mingay behind the wheel.

Shaughnessy is one of those courses you could enjoy for multiple rounds, and you could absolutely return. One should not miss the chance to play here if you’re in Vancouver, and I would say it’s one of the three “must plays” in the city (along with Capilano, obviously, and even Marine Drive).

2 thoughts

  1. I just discovered your website and love these reviews. You provide great historical information about each course. The hole-by-hole descriptions and photos are fantastic, and your attention to details like bunkering, green complexes, and topography are all great. Good luck on your journey and keep the great reviews coming!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Adam,

      Thanks for the kind words! I love going over the courses hole by hole, either with descriptions or just a photo tour, as I know that’s what I’d look for in a review. Looking forward to the fall here when I have a lot of really great golf courses lined up!

      Like

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