Get Treated Like Family at Innisfil Creek Golf Club
Situated just over the Canadian border north of Buffalo and Toronto in Cookstown, Ontario, lies Innisfil Creek Golf Club, a peaceful, well-maintained and friendly course where juniors are welcome and low handicap players are challenged.
Prior to 2004 when Tom Torkos and his son, Nick, bought the club, however, it had been a rather run-down 12-hole golf academy with a driving range. That all changed when the Torkos family took charge.
“[We] had owned a high-end golf course for 30 years,” said Nick. “We felt price, time and difficulty were the three most important issues to address for a successful golf operation.” Today Nick said, “Innisfil Creek’s rates are competitive, the time to play is around four hours and you will use all the clubs in your bag.”
Clearly, all the hard work and updates have paid off as Innisfil Creek currently holds an impressive rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars on GolfNow based on ratings and reviews submitted by golfers, who also gave the course the highest marks possible in the “Staff Friendliness” category.
The Torkos have rebuilt the course from inside out, moving more than 500,000 cubic feet of dirt to extend the layout, planting more than 700 pines, sculpting fairways and bunkers and eliminating irrelevant mounding and unnecessary water hazards. They also reconditioned the Bent grass greens and tee decks, updated the clubhouse and kitchen and began promoting the club with a number of new, innovative programs.
Flowing over a largely-open, flat terrain and designed by David Moote, Innisfil Creek is not overly-long at 5,674 yards from the tips, so it is easy to walk and sets up well, combining target golf with water challenges.
A creek running through the course along with 14 ponds and wetlands are key features of the Innisfil landcape, yet on some holes such as No. 6 and No. 10 (unless you stray too far right), the water isn’t going to hurt. Water is a factor, however, on holes four, 12 and 15, all par-3s requiring carries over ponds, and hole 16 where water runs along the left side a good part of the way.
Those looking for a good challenge will enjoy playing the par-5, 510-yard 7th hole where golfers must drive over water to reach a safe landing area and then avoid a large waste bunker near the green. The next hole, another par-5 – and head professional Greg Ugolini’s favorite – threatens water along the right side two-thirds of the way from the green. Big hitters cannot be careless with club choices where the fairways are winding and narrow.
On the 9th hole, a par-3 typically into the wind, golfers will drive to a long, slim well-guarded green, and on hole 13, a par-5 risk-and-reward that is also Nick’s favorite, golfers hit down a long, narrow fairway. Going for the green in two in possible, but errant shots will be penalized.
Growing the Game for Future Generations
One of the most unique factors about Innisfil is its commitment to building a strong junior golf program. The club hosts two annual junior tournaments, including the Canadian Junior Golf Association Tournament and the Innisfil Creek Junior Tournament, where a free junior membership is awarded to winners of each division.
“Hundreds of kids have played in our events,” said Nick. “Parents come out and watch [junior tournaments] and when a young golfer makes a good shot, they roar. It’s a great golf course for kids.”
Each Sunday the 2:50 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. tee times are reserved for juniors who are allowed to play free. Kids 13-and-under playing with an adult also play free and junior golf lessons are also quite affordable.
“We want them to call other juniors to play and establish relationships and friendships,” said Nick, who has three young children of his own.
At Innisfil Creek, the staff goes out of its way to make everyone feel welcome, even finding a good starting hole when available for beginner golfers. “We don’t want someone new to the game to feel pressured,” Nick said. “We will find a place they can start and explain that if someone comes up fast behind them, they should step aside and let that group play through.”
Nick said that when people play Innisfil Creek for the first time, they are pleasantly surprised at the difficulty and level of challenge. “There is more bite to the course than meets the eye,” he added.
Thanks to the efforts of the Torkos and the entire team, Innisfil Creek has become more playable, more fun and flourishes in great condition each season. And, just wait until you taste the wings and hand-cut fries in the grill room.