St. Raphael Golf Club: a challenging course for any golfer

Chris Quigley
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St. Raphael Golf Club: a challenging course for any golfer

If the greens at St. Raphael Golf Club in Ile Bizard last week were any indication at all, you duffers out there would be wise to invest in some putting lessons. I first played this course a couple of years ago, on the media day for the Montreal Open tournament, and remarked then that the ball seemed to move past the hole on its own, rather than on some wayward putt I had hit.

At the time, I wrote the phenomenon off to the fact professional golfers would be playing the same greens the next day and chalked it up to dry, fast mid-summer greens. Fast-forward to May 2009, and despite not having any pros coming the next day, I once more found that the greens at St. Raphael are, to put it mildly, a challenge.

So, be careful on those greens.

So, the Duffer's Guide crew (made up of me and brother-in-law Jesse Paterson, an accomplished pharmaceutical project manager) hit the links at St. Raphael last week for a round on the blue course usually reserved for members.

What a day we got, also. It was slightly windy, but St. Raphael's layout is so expansive that you never have the wind in your face or at your back consistently for more than a few holes.

The first hole starts you off nicely, with a relatively straight par-4, which we both played reasonably well, while the second hole – a longish 405-yard par-4 -- ended up a disaster for both of us. Jesse's drive came off the tee nicely but landed in one of the course's notorious fairway bunkers, and it took him a couple of shots to get out, eventually carding a nine. I had troubles of my own and carded an eight. Not pretty.

The same cannot be said for St. Raphael's terrain, however. The whole time we were hacking away on the second hole, I thought 'well, at least it's a nice setting for such ugly golf.'

The poor play continued from my end until the 306-yard par-4 fifth hole, which is but 306 yards long and fairly straight, with a nice, deep green-side bunker. I managed to avoid the sand and one-putted for a bogey, while Jesse actually managed to par the hole. We both bogeyed the next one – a 167-yard par-3 whose green is surrounded by deep, menacing bunkers for miles around the green (or, that's how it felt at least), so duffers would be well advised to hit onto the green or spend a couple of hours trying to get out of the bunkers, some of which are so deep, I swear they were the stunt double for the pit Boba Fett falls into at the beginning of Return of the Jedi.

The par-5 eighth is also tricky, but in a different way. The elevated green, coupled with a long pre-green fairway area makes the 471-yard hole 'tricky long' and often forces the golfer to lay up in front of the green rather than shoot for it. I carded a hard-fought seven on the hole, while Jesse carded a six.

The entire day was a pleasure and makes me wonder why I haven't considered applying for membership at the club, located a mere 15 minutes from the intersection of Highway 40 at St. John's Boulevard.

The club boasts two 18-hole courses; one for members and one for the public. Call now to reserve for the weekend.,

St. Raphael Golf Club is located at 1111 De L'Eglise in Ile Bizard. They can be reached by phone at 514-696-4653 or visit them online at <@Cp>Chronicle, Jacques Pharand<@$p>

Organizations: Raphael Golf Club, Montreal Open

Geographic location: Ile Bizard, St. John's Boulevard

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