Golf Horseshoe Valley

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Just as McBroom and Cupp took advantage of Muskoka’s natural gifts to create Deerhurst Highlands,  noted “hands-on” designer, Rene Muylaert and his protégé, Sean Watters, created two very different courses from a series of horseshoe – shaped hills near Barrie, an hour south of Deerhurst.

Horseshoe Highlands, on the Globe and Mail’s “Top 50 Best Courses in Canada” list, hosted a Canadian Tour championship in 2006. The course reflects the minimalist design esthetics of both men who planned the holes very carefully to move as little soil as possible.

Hole 1 Horseshoe Highlands
Hole 1 Horseshoe Highlands

The opening downhill par four, ranging from 286 to 316 yards, tempts big hitters to go for the green. The rest of the holes on this scenic front nine, completed by Watters in 2002, play longer thanks to sloping fairways, sprawling sand traps and perception – altering backdrops that challenge the most skillful player.

Excellent views of Barrie, Collingwood, Orillia and Georgian Bay await players at the par-4 elevated 5th tee, the hardest hole on the course. Most shots to the raised green will catch the elephant-backed fairway rolling balls off course.

Like most of these holes, length trumps accuracy; take more club than what your eyes and distance markers suggest. The par-4 14 th, the best hole on the maturing back nine, demands a shot to the right rough to outwit the hillside fairway that kicks balls sharply left into the trees.

Driving west on Horseshoe Valley Road from the Highlands Course you’ll see some of the best holes on the older Valley Course which, engulfed in maples, makes for a colourful autumn round. Opened in 1974, it’s a favorite with walkers who appreciate the parkland setting that backs onto Copeland Woods, home to curious moose, cougars, wild turkeys, deer and rabbits.

Horseshoe Valley Par 3
Horseshoe Valley Par 3

The tight fairways, lined with mature trees require strategically-targeted shots to avoid low-hanging branches on the many short, dogleg par fours. Players get a break on the scenic par-4 15th where all shots feed down to the hole. You’ll rarely see a straight putt on any of these greens.

The round ends with the best hole on the course, a par-5 played from an elevated tee, complete with panoramic views of the valley and a fairway that cuts sharp to the left and out of If you don’t have time to play both of these excellent tracks, play the front nine of Horseshoe Highlands and the back nine of the Valley course to experience the best of Horseshoe Resort golf.

When visiting the Simcoe region of cottage country, don’t miss the opportunity to play these beautiful and challenging tracks by notable Canadian golf course designers.

Golf Warkworth

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

The Gallery Bed and Breakfast sits on the tenth tee of the Warkworth Golf Course, twenty minutes north of Brighton at the 401 in Ontario’s Northumberland County – a few minutes drive from three other courses.

The Gallery Bed and Breakfast
The Gallery Bed and Breakfast

The name “Gallery” refers not only to host Peter Moore’s paintings of golf courses, but also to the guests who watch other players tee off on the 10th as they enjoy their al fresco breakfast of French toast made with croissants, topped with caramelized green apple slices and peameal bacon. Diners can enjoy a second cup of coffee while Peter picks up the cart. Your friendly and helpful host will also arrange other tee times and dinners too.

This beautifully restored farmhouse from 1881 has three good-sized bedrooms, each with a private bath and beds that can be configured to suit golfing groups or couples. In the true spirit of a golf getaway, it’s best to leave the non-golfing kids and pets at home. Depending on local tournament schedules, a sample weekend golf itinerary might look like this: Check in on Friday afternoon or early evening and warm up on the neighbouring Salt Creek Golf Course.

This short, par-65 track, presents some interesting challenges thanks to 45-degree doglegs and hilltop tee boxes. On Saturday, play Warkworth, taking full advantage of the 19th hole with its tasty local beer, since you won’t be driving. For dinner, book the “Steak and Ride” special including 18 holes of golf and motorized cart. This beautiful course demands well-targeted shots to avoid the mature trees lining the fairways.

Dinner and a night out could also include a trip to the 100 Mile Diner in Warkworth, a town quickly becoming a favourite with Toronto artisans. To dine on the water, head to Dougall’s or the Harbourview Café in Brighton.

On Sunday, play either Pine Ridge or Timber Ridge. For excellent greens just five minutes from Warkworth with fees that top out at $35.00 for 18 holes, head to Pine Ridge. To take advantage of “the best bang for your (golfing) buck”, according to Ontario Golf magazine, drive 20 minutes further to the championship course at Timber Ridge. Green fees here range from $50.00 to $60.00 for 18-holes, 80 bunkers and deep fescue.

Hallway Gallery Bed and Breakfast
Hallway Gallery Bed and Breakfast

After your rounds, swap stories or solicit golfing advice as you share a nightcap with Peter and his congenial wife, Janie, around the billiard table.

Golf Mont Tremblant

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Montreal’s playground, Mont Tremblant, is a 1.5-hour drive northwest of Montreal. In winter, it’s a top ski destination. But the rest of the year finds these same mountains and pristine forests transformed into great golf tracks.

Here, golfers can enjoy championship golf experiences, thanks to the topography of the Canadian Shield, which provides dramatic elevation changes in a beautiful setting unlike any other courses in North America.

The wide variation within the landscape ensures that no two holes are ever the same. With the elevation changes and steep climbs, golf carts are mandatory. They allow golfers to store up their energy for the various challenges presented on these tricky courses.

Many of these spectacular holes find golfers teeing off from a plateau sculpted into the mountainside, high above a tiny green that provides the ultimate thrill in golf.

The most impressive of these elevation changes for some heart-stopping tee shots can be found at Le Geant course, designed by Thomas McBroom, a leading Canadian golf architect.

Le Geant fairway and green
Le Geant fairway and green

The real danger playing these beautiful holes is the temptation to play from the very back tees, which will skew your score unfavorably but will add extra thrills. Your biggest challenge is keeping your eye on the ball instead of the spectacular scenery provided by the surrounding Laurentian Mountains.

Golfers can experience similar views on Le Geant’s sister course: Le Diable. In addition to imposing red-sand bunkers and long, narrow fairways, the course includes several holes with fairway waste bunkers that look more intimidating than they actually play.

This 7,056-yard course, designed by Michael Hurdzan and Dana Fry in 1998, offers a true test of driving precision. As an added bonus, both Le Diable and Le Geant courses play for as little as $50 after 5 p.m.

Le Maitre 18th green
Le Maitre 18th green

Two other championship courses in the region that deserve a mention include Le Maitre, whose designers include Fred Couples, and La Bete – designed by Graham Cooke. Cooke provided five sets of tees, making the course accessible to both novice and expert golfers.

The par-72 course plays from 5,150 to 6,825 yards. If you choose to play from the tips, you’ll see why they named the course La Bete (“The Beast”).

Both these tracks feature the variety of holes and elevation changes enjoyed at Le Geant and Le Diable, along with excellent dining and drinking facilities often found in Quebec. Head to the patio at Le Maitre for lunch and dinner, best savored on a large patio overlooking the wide expanse of golf course down below.

La Bete, situated along the Diable River, runs nearly 7,000 yards. For lighter fare and good micro-brews at excellent prices,summer check out La Bete’s quiet back patio overlooking the 9th hole viewed through a crop of tall alders.

La Bete Golf Course
La Bete Golf Course

Keep in mind this 19th hole closes fairly early in the afternoon.

A 10-minute drive away, Le Grand Lodge offers golf packages for these four courses.

Le Grand Lodge Mont Tremblant
Le Grand Lodge Mont Tremblant

Their bountiful breakfast buffet ensures golfers are properly fueled for a challenging day on the course. A rich, multi-course dinner offers good value gourmet dining.

The dining room and patio overlook pretty Lac Ouimet, perfect for a post-round dip. In the evening, you can enjoy a complimentary campfire on the beach – complete with marshmallows and roasting sticks.

A free shuttle service running every half hour will take you to nearby Mont Tremblant Village for dinner, drinks or evening entertainment, including a 10-day annual summer blues festival. Plentiful dining options range from a good brew pub – Microbrasserie La Diable – to Asian cuisine at O-Wok.

Chateau Beauvallon Mont Tremblant
Chateau Beauvallon Mont Tremblant

Nearby, Chateau Beauvallon offers similar accommodations, though more upgraded. The lake, however, is replaced by a busy outdoor pool.

It also features premium dining in the form of Prime Steak Sushi Bar for fans of sushi fusion and beef dishes, along with other choices. Free shuttle service to Mont Tremblant Village is also included, as is a substantial buffet breakfast.

Previously published on USA Today 10 Best

Your Guide to an Active Vacation