WATERLOO, Ontario, Canada -- Grey Silo Golf Club's greatest attribute is that it feels like a solid mid-level public or private club even though it's municipally owned.
Publicly owned golf courses, for whatever reason, generally have to fight an unfair label of being of substandard quality (the reputation for slow play is the most likely culprit). Grey Silo has never suffered from that tag simply because it has been run well and kept in good shape by GolfNorth (a conglomerate that owns many golf courses in the area west of Toronto) since it opened about 10 years ago.
The layout snakes around RIM Park in Waterloo, Ontario, not far from University Avenue, where the city's two universities (Wilfrid Laurier and Waterloo) are based. Grey Silo is characterized by wide fairways and plenty of water. It's easy off the tee but all the places to get wet make it significantly more difficult if you're having a bad day.
The pretty first hole gives a first-time visitor a false impression. A 414-yard (all yardages are from the tips), slight dogleg left, it's really the only hole on the course where forested fairways prevail, though there are a healthy dose of trees all over the course. The first hole and the finishing hole also are laid out on a finger of land that is essentially separated from the rest of the golf course. For that reason, a golf cart is the best option on Grey Silo, unless you don't mind two long walks at the start and end of your round.
Aside from that admittedly odd geographically separation, the first thing that will catch your attention is two back-to-back par 5s starting at the fourth. Water runs on the left for the entire length of both brutes, adding to the challenge.
Where water is perhaps most interesting at Grey Silo is on the clever eighth hole, a water- and bunker-protected par 3 that plays almost 180 yards but is at least 165 yards of pure carry to get to the green. If you're short, you will end up in a massive bunker that protects the front of the green. Go even shorter and you could get wet, and the marine life that lurks in the pond that runs to the right of the eighth green has to be seen to be believed -- fish the size of golf bags, seriously, that always seem to be feeding near the surface.
Grey Silo Golf Club settles into a nice rhythm on the back nine with less water, starting with the 351-yard par-4 10th, which has a slight dogleg right near a difficult green. The best two-hole stretch could be Nos. 16-17. The 16th is a 179-yard par 3 that plays very similar to No. 8. The 17th is a 468-yard par 5 with no water.
Grey Silo Golf Club: The verdict
'Grey Silo is a big, bold course,' said SCOREGolf editor and TSN Golf Insider Bob Weeks. 'It won't test the players that much off the tee but will definitely get their attention going into the greens.'
Weeks and other Canadian golf media have had reason to talk up Grey Silo. The course is the site of a new LPGA Tour event in 2012. The things that make a good tournament course aren't necessarily the same attributes that make it a good day out for recreational players. But Grey Silo's position on the LPGA schedule for the foreseeable future is certainly another reason for you to take a look. It's worth a visit.