It took Seguin Valley Golf Club founder Robert McRae 15 years to stitch together 2,000 acres—a rugged but stirring parcel of Precambrian Shield wilderness just south of Parry Sound—before his dream of a unique golf course set upon 400 of those acres began to take shape in 1998.
A former RCAF pilot, McRae flew with Air Canada until the 1960s, when a medical problem curtailed his flying career and he entered the investment business. While he looked to spread his wings by developing a secluded paradise for golfers, the project remained mostly grounded before McRae secured the services of Ron Dennis, a close friend of 50 years, to oversee construction. As CEO and president of Seguin Valley Golf Club, Dennis, who had retired in 1991 as Air Canada’s chief pilot and director of flight operations, hired course construction firm Bruce Evans Ltd. in 2001.
Under the design guidance of Evans’ Ted George and the nurturing touch of superintendent Chris Hudswell, who was lured away from Port Carling G&CC, the preliminary course routing was reworked.
Although blasting was required to clear rock for some tee and greensites, as well as for cart paths, little earth was moved during the more than four years of construction, as the course took advantage of the natural terrain.
And while there is a minimalist approach to bunkering at Seguin—there are just 25 sand traps on the entire course—and a driving range and expanded practice area are still in the plans, no expense was spared in achieving memorability throughout the property. Among the most spectacular of those examples was the creation of one of Seguin’s signature holes, the stunning par-3 7th over McRae Lake, where the 180-yard-long bridge that curls from tee to green was constructed at a cost of $350,000.
“That’s a dramatic hole and a great greensite,” says Hudswell. “Mr. McRae acquired whatever property he needed to help realize his dream. The green on No. 5, for example, used to be a guy’s house. Mr. McRae knocked on the gentleman’s door one day and said, ‘I don’t want your house; I just want your property.’ So the guy sold the land and actually moved his house!”
The front nine of one of Ontario’s most scenic layouts officially opened for business in the spring of 2003 (the back nine followed that fall), with Golf Ontario magazine editor Ted McIntyre calling Seguin Valley “easily among the most dramatic and photogenic golf courses in Ontario.”
To complement the wild nature of the landscape, a handsome, rugged, rustic clubhouse design was commissioned—a nearly 15,000 sq. ft. log-style pine structure built by Mennonites in St. Jacobs, Ontario, with each log numbered, before being reassembled on its permanent site at Seguin Valley. An iconic 40-foot B.C. cedar thrusts up from the basement through the centre of the distinctive red-roofed clubhouse, which finally opened in 2013 and now includes a 3,000 sq. ft. patio.
Sadly, Mr. McRae never got to see the final product, having passed away in 2004. His estate sought a new owner for the next five years, before closing the course in 2009, with superintendent Hudswell overseeing its maintenance that season.
Seguin sprung back to life in 2010, reopening to the public on June 15. Three days earlier, Mike Feldman had arrived on the grounds and toured the Seguin property. Recognizing the great potential of the facility, Feldman, a former chartered account who founded TPP Warehousing and TPP Services to warehouse and distribute newsprint for several major newspapers, tendered an offer. The deal closed on Sept. 30, 2010, and Feldman has worked tirelessly ever since to complete the vision of the original owner.
Since the Feldman purchase, the clubhouse has become fully operational. Many of the finishing touches such as landscaping, clubhouse finishes and amenities are planned and in the works. A true labour of love for Mr. Feldman. His passion for the game of golf and love of the Parry Sound area shows in his investment.
An article from Ontario Golf from a few years back.