GOLF: CALLING ALL SWINGERS! CANADA’S FINEST FAIRWAYS BECKON
Having chased dimpled white Titleists over six continents in my quest to play the world’s best courses, this golf addict proudly opines that Canada boasts no lack of stellar tracts. My bucket list includes oceanside gems, mountain marvels, prairie bargains and some surprises that have been ranked among the best on the planet. We are spoiled for choice.
THE RISE, VERNON, BC
Aptly named, The Rise, a rollicking roller coaster set high above Okanagan Lake, is the design debut of PGA pro Fred Couples in collaboration with Gene Bates. The signature 15th hole challenges players of all levels with a slight downhill left-to-right dogleg and a second shot requiring a carry over water to an angled green. Bring your camera as this course is truly a drama queen, and don’t be surprised if your ears pop due to the alpine altitude (www.therise.ca).
SAGEBRUSH, MERRITT, BC
The previously-private Sagebrush is now a public course managed by Troon Golf. Rod Whitman’s design tumbles and rolls with natural rhythm. Golfers may also try their luck at world-class fly fishing for feisty Kamloops rainbow trout as they pause for refreshments at the pond between the 12th and 13th fairways (www.sagebrushlife.com).
STEWART CREEK GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB, CANMORE, AB
Formerly a coal mining area, Stewart Creek offers sensational views of the Three Sisters peaks. Despite its formidable setting, Canadian architect Gary Browning accomplished his goal to create a course that is playable and challenging from all five sets of tees. “Too often the forward tees miss the great pleasures of a championship course,” remarked Browning who has succeeded in his intent to “take players’ breath away” (www.stewartcreekgolf.com).
EVERGREEN GOLF COURSE, NIPAWIN, SK
Canadian architect Les Furber’s redesign of Evergreen Golf Course, set in the middle of a mature forest of Jack pines, spruce and poplar trees, will challenge golfers of all
levels. The forest is in play throughout the championship tract, especially on the 15th and 16th holes that are like islands in a sea of trees. Nearby, Tobin Lake attracts avid anglers hoping to break walleye and northern pike records (www.evergreengolfcourse.ca).
GRANITE HILLS GOLF CLUB, LAC DU BONNET, MB
Carved out of the rugged Canadian Shield and spectacular woodlands, Granite Hills, winding its way along the shores of scenic Lac du Bonnet, is Manitoba’s newest golf course—opened in 2007. Lots of elevated tees provide sweeping vistas of five lakeside fairways. For those arriving by boat, Granite Hills has a public dock. The golf scene in Manitoba is surprisingly good and affordable (www.granitehills.ca).
THE BRIARS GOLF CLUB, JACKSON’S POINT, ON
The Briars is a private golf club, but guests of The Briars resort have playing privileges. The first nine holes, designed by Stanley Thompson, opened in 1922. In 1971, Stanley Thompson’s able apprentice, Robbie Robinson, created the back nine. In the years following, architect Doug Carrick, who apprenticed for Robinson and his team, made some alterations. Perhaps it’s because of this seemingly seamless series of designers that The Briars has retained the traditional style of a Scottish woodlands course. You can take a cart but it’s really a joy to walk the meticulously manicured fairways and greens shaded by mature trees (www.briarsgolf.com).
FAIRMONT LE CHÂTEAU MONTEBELLO GOLF CLUB, QC
Designed in 1929 by Canada’s legendary Stanley Thompson, the Montebello golf course meanders over hilly forested terrain with plenty of rocky outcroppings and wondrous views of the surrounding Laurentian Mountains. Keep an eye out for wildlife as the course is designated as a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. After your round, check into the Fairmont Château Montebello—possibly the cosiest, yet largest, log cabin in the world (www.fairmont.com/montebello/golf).
THE ALGONQUIN GOLF COURSE, ST. ANDREWS, NB
The Algonquin Golf Course boasts a distinguished history. First opened in 1894 with design input by the acclaimed Donald Ross (of Pinehurst No. 2 fame), The Algonquin was recently redesigned by Canadian golf course architect, Rod Whitman. The Maritime tract overlooking St. Andrews by-the-Sea and the Bay of Fundy reopened last August with eight new holes and ten new greens. On the 12th par-three, new tees built on the sides of the cliffs drop down to the world’s highest tides in the Bay of Fundy (www.algonquinresort.com/golf).
CABOT CLIFFS, INVERNESS, CAPE BRETON, NS
When Cabot Links opened in 2012 it caused a sensation in the golf world as Canada’s first and only true links course. In 2016, the folks who own Cabot Links opened Cabot Cliffs, created by the renowned design team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. Fairways tumble and twist down from a forested glade high above the sea. They meander up and over dunes, cross meadows and ravines, and skirt ragged cliffs. Golf Digest has described Cabot Cliffs as, “the second coming of Cypress Point,” and has ranked it 9th on its list of 100 Greatest Golf Courses in the World (www.cabotlinks.com).
THE LINKS AT CROWBUSH COVE, MORELL, PEI
Thomas McBroom routed his Maritime masterpiece through 1,000-year-old sand dunes on the Island’s north shore. Each fairway presents its own unique series of challenges. There are nine water holes, plenty of pot bunkers and sudden gusts from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to keep you on your toes. You’ll get great bang for your buck here and on other PEI courses (www. golfpei.ca/course/crowbushcove).
TERRA NOVA RESORT & GOLF COMMUNITY, PORT BLANDFORD, NL
Terra Nova, dubbed the Pebble Beach of Newfoundland, is located in the National Park of the same name. The first hole is a knockout—from elevated tees it doglegs right to a raised green with sparkling Bonavista Bay ahead of you. Most of the fairways are wide enough to accommodate the Titanic, tempting you to let it rip. Perhaps what makes Terra Nova’s flagship Twin Rivers course so special is the outstanding par threes. Number eight, for example, requires crossing a raging river of whitewater to an elevated green protected by bunkers. Thanks to the second nine-hole Eagle Creek course, and very attractive “stay and play” packages, you can swing to your heart’s content (www.terranovagolf.com).
For golf course listings across Canada: www.golfcanada.com/golf-courses
Provincial golf associations are listed at the bottom of Golf Canada’s home page: www.golfcanada.ca.
THE LINKS AT CROWBUSH COVE, PE • TOURISM PE/JOHN SYLVESTER
STEWART CREEK GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB, CANMORE, AB