“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.
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.
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.
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.