The Takeaway: One of Ontario’s most private clubs, Oviinbyrd focuses on service above all else. The remote location offers an escape to cottage country with a McBroom golf course where the back nine bests the front. Grade B
Designer: Thomas McBroom 2005
Phone Number: 705-375-0555
Course Website: Official Website - Visit Oviinbyrd Golf Club's official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - 4805 Muskoka District Road 169, MacTier, Ontario P0C 1H0 – CANADA
What to Expect: Located in cottage country in Muskoka 2.5 hours north of downtown Toronto, Oviinbyrd is an ultra-private club with a course designed by Thomas McBroom. The area is heavily forested so it should be no surprise that the course features fairways framed by trees while also having some pond areas to contend with. The opening holes feature mild terrain and are fairly forgettable other than introducing players to the stone outcrops that are prolific throughout the design. Starting with the 4th hole the elevation changes in the property kick in and the first water hazard comes into play. The 8th hole and reachable par five 9th hole are the highlights of the front nine before embarking on the back which features much more dramatic holes including the downhill par three 14th and the long 15th which features an insane carry from the back box. As a whole though, there are only a handful of forced carries to contend with. Oviinbyrd's greatest features are the condition the course is kept in and its isolated setting that truly feels like you are taking a break from civilization and rejuvenating. The service is second to none as a member or guest's experience for the day is the staff's top priority; and it shows. While architecturally Ontario has more compelling designs, the overall experience at Oviinbyrd is a memorable one.
By the Numbers
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 14th Hole – 229 Yard Par 3 – The climax of the course occurs on the 14th hole with a do or die par three over water. Players will experience a 50 foot drop from tee to green and have five bunkers to clear once beyond the water, but it is the wind that can be the most difficult factor to consider. Just 20 yards of depth is afforded players which makes it an extremely difficult green to hit considering all of the factors, but doing so is the most rewarding shot of the day.
Best Par 3: 8th Hole – 191 Yards – A beautiful par three awaits on the 8th hole and plays directly east over a marsh. A large exposed wall of gneiss stone towers on the right side of the hole while an unassuming bunker fronts the center of the green just beyond the water. Long and right provides the only place to bail to so you'll need to hit one pure here to find safety.
Best Par 4: 15th Hole – 441 Yards – From the back tee into the prevailing wind, this hole requires a 265 yard carry to clear the water and find the fairway; which is why the tees are rarely set up on that box. Moving up one tee box reduces the carry by 40 yards before seeing the fairway ascend 20 feet in elevation enroute to the greensite that is surrounded by large exposed rocks rather than bunkers. The approach calls for a draw into this green which is one of the most challenging to hit in regulation and consequently offers one of the most rewarding pars to earn on the course.
Best Par 5: 18th Hole – 542 Yards – While some will look to the uniquely, borderline quirky, designed 9th hole as the best par five on the course, my vote heads to the closing hole. The tee shot should be played directly over the lone fairway bunker which will put players in the ideal position just left of the center cut of the fairway. Water comes into play 100 yards from the green and runs the left side of the fairway and hugging that edge of the green. The ideal play is to start the second shot wide of the right side of the green and turn the ball over towards the putting surface that has a narrow opening. With two bunkers on the right side it isn't free to bail away from the water as a level of risk comes into play from any distance into the green.
Birdie Time: 10th Hole – 322 Yard Par 4 – My favorite hole at Oviinbyrd, the 10th is a classic risk/reward short par four. The bunkerless fairway offers plenty of landing area for players that elect to layup, but the real fun is taking a crack at driving the green. On a straight line with the flag, 260 yards will cover the water that flanks the right side and give players an eagle putt to try and roll in. The safest play is to hit it straight up the fairway with a fade but if a pull is your miss, take dead aim at the flag and go for the gusto knowing plenty of fairway awaits on the left if need be. With plenty of options and a wide spread of scores available here, this is an insanely fun hole to play.
Bogey Beware: 7th Hole – 480 Yard Par 4 – The 7th is a bear of a par four that takes 480 yards to get home. Some relief is offered by the lack of fairway bunkers, but the approach shot plays to a narrow green angled away from the player and featuring a pair of bunkers and water to the left of the target. The only bailout is to the right of the green where players will have to try and get up and down with the slope of the putting surface going away from the player.