It’s not everyday you drive through the gates of a golf course and feel truly lucky to be there. Magna Golf Club, a private club located within the Greater Toronto Area in the town of Aurora, Ontario, turned out to be one of those places.
Entering the gates of this exclusive club on an overcast Monday morning felt almost eerie — the “too good to be true” type of eerie where you can’t believe you practically have a place like this to yourself. With only 270 full playing members, opportunities to play Magna can be few and far between.
After the friendly valet parked our Nissan a safe distance away from the pair of already parked Ferraris, we rolled into the palace they call a clubhouse to get checked in. Upon entering the men’s locker room, the attendant was happy to steer us to our guest lockers for the day, complete with our names printed on them.
After scouring the locker room snack bar, which included fresh baking, I managed to peel myself away and head to the range. When I noticed the range looked like a small golf course in itself with a fairway, bunkers, and greens, it further confirmed I was at a classy joint.
I asked the friendly young chap on the range, who was meticulously cleaning each of my clubs, how his day was going. “Good but kind of lonely, glad to see some people”, he replied.
Although there are no official tee times at Magna, it’s courteous for members to let them know when they plan to have guests out, since all guests are required to have a caddy. We headed over to the first tee roughly around when we intended to play, where our caddies were waiting for us. My caddy, Luke, was a fine young man and I knew we were going to have a great day.
The Doug Carrick designed golf course is elegantly laid out and can be stretched as long as 7300 yards. Although I had a decent warm-up, our caddies didn’t even let us think about playing the tips. Turned out playing at 6500 yards was for the best.
If I was designing a golf course, the basic features I would strive for would be width, variety, strategic options, and pleasing aesthetics. Add those up and it’s impossible for a golf course not to be fun.
This is what you get at Magna, with a few particularly daunting shots mixed in, such as the par-3 2nd hole pictured below, just to keep you honest.
Magna is not a place where you expect to lose many balls. The fairways and playing corridors are generous, however, there is no shortage of challenge, strategy and visual intimidation — the place is littered with beautifully contoured bunkers which will have you double checking your yardages on each shot.
When playing from the appropriate set of tee boxes, there are a lot of options and variety off the tee. It’s not a course where it feels like you’re forced to hit driver all day, however, you have the option to if you’re feeling saucy.
Finding Magna’s perfectly manicured fairways is the first priority, but not all shots that find the fairway are created equal. The wide fairways offer the opportunity to use angles to your advantage. Playing to a favorable angle may leave you with an inviting approach, while being on the other side of the fairway may force you to play more defensive.
I even enjoyed one of the longest and toughest holes on the course — the par-4 11th, which features an uphill, left-to-right tee shot where you can’t see the green until you crest the hill. I love the large, domed green, which features a runoff area to the left in the “bailout zone”. A great long par-4.
My favorite hole on the course was the very reachable par-5 14th hole pictured below. If you’re able to shape your tee shot right-to-left, or have the courage to favor the left side, you can catch a significant downslope and gain an extra 30-50 yards, which could leave you with a mid-iron into the green. Of course, after playing high buttery fades all day (as a left hander), I hit my first pull draw into the right bunker and didn’t cash in on the extra yardage. Although I made my par, it feels like I have some unfinished business on this hole! Who doesn’t love a great risk-reward reachable par-5?!
I’m not sure if I am remembering this accurately or not, but it almost felt like the shorter the par-4 was, the more bunkers there were. The short 15th hole below certainly wasn’t lacking any. The large bunker in the foreground isn’t really in play but partially blocks the view from the tee of the room you have left and gives the illusion that there’s nothing but bunkers on both sides.
The beautiful clubhouse is on full display as you trek up the last hole. If you want to close out a good round here you’ll need to survive a stern par-4, playing 480 yards uphill from the tips. However, the wide fairway gives you the chance to step into your tee shot and try milk a few extra yards out of the driver.
The experience at Magna is truly five-star. Everyone we met was awesome, from our caddies to the staff, and I felt very welcome there as a guest of a member. I even managed to corner the head-pro, Michael, for a few minutes, and he was more than happy to take time to chat and was genuinely interested in what I thought about the course. I was impressed with the experience and the people at every turn.
We enjoyed lunch on the gorgeous patio after the round and reflected on some great memories. I could only find good things to say. The width, variety, challenge and interesting, aesthetically pleasing terrain makes Magna a treat to experience. It is high on my list of courses I could play everyday and not tire of.
A huge thanks to our member-host, Gail, for having us out and showing us a great time. Another thanks to my caddie, Luke, for doing a stand-up job and enhancing my experience at Magna Golf Club. It is one I will not soon forget.