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What chances do you have of having a pleasing public golf experience in Ontario? Answer is, tons. So don’t worry about choosing: there are hundreds of great layouts, public and private, where you can test your abilities while being in the Heartland Province, most of them of outstanding quality.
We have reunited our best choices for public golfing here, however, there are probably some other great ones that are worth to mention and play. Take a look and let us know your opinion. Let’s go!
Best Golf Courses in Ontario
Muskoka Bay will leave you speechless the moment you get there for the first time. Its rugged and rocky terrain with dramatic elevation changes and its fantastic background of wooded valleys and wetlands make this course a mix of playability, challenge and beautifulness.
Located in the city of Gravenhurst, in the Muskoka Region, it was designed by Doug Carrick, opening in the year 2006. Carrick had a land full of rocky outcrops to work with, and did a fantastic job to create a track that melts perfectly with its surroundings. From the elevated tees you can most of the landing areas, so there almost no blind shots in the whole course.
There are great holes in Muskoka Bay, some of them quite controversial. Check out the dramatic 9th, for example, called “The Narrows”: a stretch fairway calls for an accurate tee shot over a wasteland, and followed by an approach shot to a hidden elevated green. (Thompson, s.f.) Apart from this one, the 8th, called “Eiger”, is a strong par 5 with another uphill green in fantastic condition; and the 11th, called the “Bad Baby”, a short par 3 over a water hazard to a green smaller than it seems. (One Golfer's Travels Blog, s.f.)
The bad thing here is its high rate: from $150 to $200 per round, depending on the season. (Muskoka Bay Website, s.f.) However, if this fact is not a problem for you, you should definitely try this fantastic golf paradise.
While having opened in 2002, this course has a history going back almost a century, to the year 1922. Nine holes were built back then, designed by the great golfer and architect Stanley Thompson, adding another nine in 1930. Part of the Bigwin Inn Resort, it had great success during those years, however, its situation changed soon. The resort ownership kept changing, and nobody was able to stop its gradual fall.
It was not until year 1986, when Alan Peters took control of the place, and along with Jack Wadsworth they hired the architect Doug Carrick to renovate the course and revive the old course, renovating and updating the holes but keeping the old spirit of the course. (Top 100 Golf Courses, s.f.)
The result is a scenic island course that every golfer should play at least once. Having to get there by boat, the course is surrounded by the Lake of Bays, offering some spectacular water views. Apart from this, the track features an undulating terrain full of hardwoods, beautiful bunkers and contoured greens that offers great elevation changes and varied shots, making this course fun and challenging to any kind of player.
There are two memorable holes here: the 6th and the 18th. The 6th is a downhill par 4 called “The Lookout”, and from its elevated tee you can enjoy some extraordinary views of the lake. The finishing hole, called “The Lake of Bays”, features a stunning par 5 with the lake to the right side, with a fairway and a double-tiered green, full of bunkers. (Big Win Island Web, s.f.)
Rates here are also expensive, as you may imagine. The green fees range from $150 to $200 in the mornings, however, playing in the twilight has some interesting discounts, down to almost 50%.
Designed by Thomas McBroom, and opened in the year 2000, Rocky Crest is loyal to its name. Located in the city of Mactier, this course is set on a terrain full of Canadian Shields, the typical granite situated below ground level in many areas of Ontario. What others may see as a bad thing, McBroom used it as an advantage, creating a layout full of granite outcroppings and challenges that are visually stunning and fun to play.
Some of the characteristics of this course are, apart from the Canadian Shields, the few bunkers coming into play (around 35), the feeling of seclusion caused by the numerous trees around the fairways, and the presence of Lake Joseph, with water coming into play in several holes.
The signature hole of this course is undoubtedly the 6th, an intimidating uphill par 5 with a carry over a granite cliff, which only long hitters will be able to surpass in two, in order to reach the elusive green.
Finally, its fees round the $100 per round, not cheap but definitely worth the price!
Located in the Deershurst Resort, in the shores of the Peninsula Lake at Huntsville, Deershurst Highlands was a piece of art crafted in 1980 by the combined efforts of Robert Cupp and Thomas McBroom. They were smart leaving the natural surroundings almost untouched, in order to create a course which melts in a perfect way with the Canadian Shields and the dense forests.
This landscape creates a track full of elevation changes and rugged terrain which make it fun and variable. One great example of this is the 10th hole, with a tee up on a 30 feet rock wall. Most of the holes are this way, however there are some exceptions, such as the holes from 4 to 6, which play in a more links-style.
The resort counts with a second course, called Lakeside, which is gentler and shorter than its sister, and more adequate for less skilled players. It also counts with Spa, dining and different events and activities for the whole family, such as paddle-boarding, water ski, wakeboard, boat tours, rock climbing, carting, escape rooms… In a nutshell, boredom is an unknown word here!
Only half an hour drive from Toronto, Copper Creek is located in Kleinburg, in the middle of the Humber Valley. It opened in 2002, and was designed also by the hands of Doug Carrick.
Here we find a course full of trees, elevation changes and water, which comes into play in six holes, including the opening one: a dogleg to the left around a lake and full of sand bunkers. Another great hole is the 8th: a short par 3 across water to a multi-tiered green where accuracy is your best (and only) option.
Their amenities include a clubhouse with a well-stocked pro-shop, a restaurant with the possibility of organizing social events, brunch and meetings, and tremendous views of the course and the Humber River.
Also a design by Doug Carrick, Eagle’s Nest opened in 2004 and left every golfer in Canada speechless. Located in Maple, in the city of Vaughan, this course offers a fantastic faux-links golf experience, being said to be one of the most impressive modern courses built in Canada in the past 30 years.
It counts with some memorable holes, such as the short par 3 8th, called “Garry Zentil”, where wind comes into play when trying to reach a green surrounded by six bunkers. Another great holes can be the long 14th, “Canny Cleek”, or the two back to back par 5s 16th and 17th. (Eagle's Nest Website, s.f.)
Rates at Eagle’s Nest are quite expensive, oscillating from $100 to $200 depending on the month. However, if that is not a problem for you, we extremely recommend this fantastic track.
Doug Carrick comes back to the list with another astounding design: the one at Cobble Beach, in the city of Kemble. This fantastic location gives the course some great views of the Georgian Bay throughout the whole course, as the layout is set on a clifftop, emulating the great Scottish courses which originated this beautiful game. What else can we ask for a links course?
The best holes of the course are the ones in the middle of the front nine: the holes from 5th to 8th are some of the architect’s best work. Visually, maybe the winner is the 7th, with a jaw-dropping background of the lake.
As a resort, Cobble Beach also counts with a luxurious offer of amenities to enjoy apart from golfing. Spa, weddings, events, and accommodations complete the services of this facility, perfect for spending some holidays with your family.
About the rates, this course is somehow cheaper than most of the courses seen until now, ranging from $70 to $100. (Cobble Beach Website, s.f.)
Glen Abbey is a course designed by the well-known Jack Nicklaus, and opened to the public in 1976. Home of the Royal Canadian Golf Association, this famous course is situated in Oakville, on the shores of the huge Lake Ontario.
The course cunts with two distinctive set of nines: the first ones play around the clubhouse, in a flatter terrain, while the back nine are more challenging, playing along a river valley. (Top 100 Golf Courses, s.f.)
From the weaker first nine, the most challenging hole is the 9th: a par 4 with a green protected by water on both sides. From the second nine, the drama starts at the 11th, which features a drop of around 75 feet, and an approach to the green over a creek. However, the toughest is the 14th: a dogleg to the right with the 16 Mile Creek coming into play, and ending on a hilly green that will test the abilities of the most skillful players.
However, the drawback here are the high rates, with green fees from $120 up to $230 in the peak season.
Osprey Valley is located in the city of Caledon, one hour to the north-west of Toronto. It counts with 3 courses, the best of them being the Heathlands. Also designed by Doug Carrick, in 1992, this course is set on an old quarry which had little to offer, now transformed into a fantastic links style course where simplicity is the key to success.
Strategy and playability are two main aspects of Carrick’s designs, which are present in this layout. One good example of this is the 4th hole, a short par 4 with an elevated green and no bunkers. Another great hole can be the 11th, with a carry over water; or the 15th, with a stone wall coming into play.
The prices here are not cheap, but also not excessive, and quite good for a course of this great characteristics. In summer the green fee for the weekdays is around $86, while weekends go up to around $100.
To finish our list, we stop in Belleville, to meet this course which opened in 2005. Designed by Brian Magee, this great layout offers a perfect public golf round for an affordable price, which ranges from $50 to $80.
The most challenging part of the course comes in the beginning of the back nine, from 11th to 13th hole. 11th is a long par 5 with a dogleg to the left, and a small green protected by water on three sides. 12th hole is a par 4 with water to the left and cedar trees on its right, and a green surrounded by water. Finally, the 13th is a par 3 with a green also surrounded by water on three sides. Summing all up, three holes not for the faint of heart which will be decisive for the round.
The facility also counts with a golf academy, leagues and the possibility of organising all kind of events and meetings.
As we have seen, these top ten courses are only some of the multiple options you have in Ontario to play great golf. It was very hard to narrow down the list of the best in this huge province, especially with it's giant amount of options. Let us know your thoughts and which courses will you add to the list or your personal favourites!