The Discovery Tour is all about finding new places to play. Each week, I’ll play and review a course in Southern Ontario that I’ve never played before and is perhaps a bit under the radar for other golfers too. For the most part, I’m looking for courses where the green fee is modest.
I would love to say I eagled the first hole at Simoro, and it was all easy sailing from there. Aided by a very strong wind, I did manage to reach the 450-yard par-5 in two shots but had to settle for a birdie. And it was anything but easy sailing after that.
Simoro Golf Links, which is located about 10 minutes north of Barrie, is not a long course, measuring just over 6,000 yards from the back tees, but don’t let the yardage fool you. It might be one of the more challenging 6,000-yard courses you’ll ever play.
The front nine climbs into the hills and has a Scottish links feel to it with plenty of wide-open landing areas, dramatic elevation changes and wonderful scenic views. The back is much tighter and wends its way around ponds and deep into the forest. The combination forces you to change gears rather abruptly, as driver off the tee is fairly obvious on the front, while the inward nine demands more precision off the tee to keep your ball in play and have any chance at a decent approach.
Both nines feature slick greens in great condition, some with false fronts and some with wicked slopes that make it almost impossible to stop your putt anywhere near the hole if you’re putting from above. The par-3 7th and par-4 8th had particularly treacherous slopes, much to my three-putting chagrin.
I really appreciate courses where each hole stands out and you can often remember them for weeks and months afterwards. At Simoro, no two holes are alike, and many are quite memorable. There’s a nice stretch of holes from 12 to 14 that takes you deep into the woods and higher in elevation before the approach on the par-5 14th drops you back to earth.
Then it’s on to the short (156 yards) 15th, surrounded by water, with a false front to the green and a pretty severe back to front slope. Not sure if it’s my favourite hole but sometimes a hole just fits your eye.
Simoro is a family affair. Owners David and Angela Sherlock have managed the course since 1998 and daughter Stephanie Sherlock is the Director of Golf.
Steph is a former LPGA player and Team Canada member. In 2007, she won the Canadian Women’s Amateur; the following year she finished second in the national amateur, won a CN Canadian Women’s Tour event and helped Team Canada to a 4th place showing at the World Amateur Team Championship in Australia. As a member of the University of Denver Pioneers, Stephanie won seven NCAA tournaments before launching her LPGA career, where she spent three years on the pro circuit before returning to Simoro.
Very nice we could catch up with both David and Stephanie after our round.
With several tee decks on each hole, Simoro is appropriate for any skill level. Even long bombers will be challenged by the short-game requirements and tricky greens.
As we were leaving Simoro, we passed by a very long line of carts filled with Tuesday Men’s League players ready to go. A very friendly chatty group. That seemed pretty typical of what we had observed at Simoro – a friendly spot where you’d really enjoy spending some time, both on and off the course.
For more information about Simoro, click HERE.