The National was devised with one focus in mind: to be the country’s best.
There are few more honest tests of golf than The National. “The National remains a singular vision and is likely to stay the most challenging course in Canada,” wrote the description in the Rolex World’s Top 1000 Golf Courses. While it has challenged the best golfers in the world—Nick Price, Mike Weir, Lee Trevino, and plenty of others—it remains playable by all, which is a demonstration of the genius of the design created by George and Tom Fazio.
The National is, as Canadian Hall of Fame Golf writer Lorne Rubenstein once said, “a masterwork of design.” That’s been the perception of The National since it first opened, when the Globe and Mail called it, “a Rembrandt, a masterpiece.” What makes The National so special? Some courses have great holes, or great routings—The National has both. A course that can be readily walked, The National’s incredible topography offers a wide variation in holes, with no two alike. This remarkable mix of holes has been widely recognized by golf writers and magazines all over the world, with the club’s fourth hole, an incredibly picturesque and devilishly par five, listed in Golf Magazine’s Top 500 holes in the world. The National’s “difficulty and allure are highlighted in the fourth hole,” the magazine commented. It has been said the character of a course resides in its greens. That’s surely the case at The National, where its impeccably maintained putting surfaces have few rivals. “Slick, treacherous, subtle, undulating: words can scarcely hint at the work that is left once the ball reaches the putting surface,” wrote John Gordon in his book Great Golf Courses of Canada.
Combine the breathtaking routing, mix of holes, and great greens, and you have one of the world’s truly great golf courses, which is a rare thing indeed. “It all adds up to character,” wrote Lawrence Martin in the Globe and Mail soon after The National opened, calling the course “the most handsome, complex and challenging character one could ask for.” And now, more than four decades after it opened, The National’s character continues to evolve, getting better every year.
Each time I visit, I see new faces and make new friends. They all have one common denominator here: they are all passionate about the club and they have a common bond in the golf course they play.Tom Fazio
In a true golf sense, it is hard to argue that there’s a better overall course and facility in this land than The National.Bob Weeks, TSN
What I wanted was a course you play a U.S. Open on in a week’s notice without gimmicking it up.Gil Blechman, National founder
When George Fazio and his nephew Tom were first approached about developing The National, co-founder Gil Blechman had one clear instruction: create a course that could, on a moment’s notice, hold the U.S. Open. And that’s exactly what was built by George, who won twice on the PGA Tour, including the Canadian Open, and Tom, who after working for his uncle became one of the most successful architects in the game’s history. That National’s design is one of the ultimate second-shot tests in the sport, unbending and brilliant. Today the course is still under the guidance of Tom Fazio, who has control over its evolution and direction.
“Ever since Gil Blechman first picked me up from the airport . . . I have enjoyed coming here,” says Tom Fazio. “Every visit I made was exciting because he had a love affair with this property and a passion for the club that I have only experienced with one other visionary like Gil.”
Since creating the course, Fazio has become one of the game’s best-known golf designers, creating top-ranked courses like Wade Hampton, Gozzer Creek, Victoria National, and nearly 200 others, as well as consulting to many of the best clubs in the world, like Augusta National, Pine Valley, and Merion. As Cigar Aficionado wrote about Fazio in an interview, the architect has now entered the league of “Donald Ross, A. W. Tillinghast and Alister MacKenzie, golf's pantheon of Rembrandts.”
“The club management and everyone I’ve been involved with are all in love with the place,” says Fazio of his time working at The National. “It’s a love affair.”