Category Archives: Ontario

Golf Horseshoe Valley

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 Deerhurst Highlands

“A great golf course starts with a great piece of land”, says Thomas McBroom, co-designer of Deerhurst Highlands Golf Course.

Using Muskoka’s granite rock faces, tree-topped hills, lakes and ponds, McBroom and his mentor, Bob Cupp created not only a beautiful course but a very playable one too. Their design caters to golfers of all levels with four tee lengths and multiple paths to the flagstick – a necessity on resort-style courses, says McBroom.

Muskoka Chairs Deerhurst Highlands Golf Course
Muskoka Chairs

Our kilometer-long journey to the first tees starts with a reminder to watch out for deer crossing the cart path as it winds through towering maple, white birch and pine trees backlit by the sun. Across a narrow wooden bridge, spanning two signature pink and grey granite cliffs, sits an undulating practice green. A pair of wooden Muskoka chairs offers golfers privileged views of Peninsula Lake and an emerald fairway that drops out of sight. Pars and birdies are easy to come by on this relatively short hole.

On the second tee however, reality sets in. Players face a daunting drive over a high ridge while trying to avoid the hazard on the left of this uphill par-4, the hardest hole on the course. A second, or more often a third shot, must hit the sweet spot of the three-tiered green to save par.

Deerhurst Highlands Golf Course
Deerhurst Highlands Golf Course

A short ride under the roadway transports golfers to a seemingly different golf course. Here the forests, rocks and elevation changes turn into three flat, links-style holes set against the Deerhurst Canal, pock-marked with moguls and fairway bunkers. Back on the Canadian Shield, elevated tees over rocky ledges tempt players to hit from the blues to take full advantage of the heights. These distances, greater than they appear, wreak havoc on second shots.

Deerhurst Highlands Golf Course Hole 10
Deerhurst Highlands Golf Course Hole 10

A black pond far below the 10th tees reflects the sheer granite rock faces that frame the dramatic beauty of McBroom’s favourite hole. Over at the 14th green, a blue heron eyes approach shots from the safety of the surrounding wetlands, while water in front of the final green further reinforces the value of laying up.

Opened in 1990, Deerhurst Highlands remains one of the top golfing destinations in Muskoka.  SCOREGolf ranks Deerhurst as one of Canada’s 100 Best golf courses of 2016.

Deerhurst Highlands Golf Course and Deerhurst Lakeside Course are both at Deerhurst Resort, 225 kilometers north of Toronto, outside Huntsville. Stay and play golf packages are available from the Resort.