When summer comes to Mont Tremblant, it’s time to hang up your ski poles and dust off your golf clubs.
Just minutes from the trembling mountain, you’ll find five world-class courses with names straight out of Grimm’s fairytales—La Belle, La Bête, Le Diable, Le Géant and Le Maître (The Beauty, The Beast, The Devil, The Giant and The Master). These babies live up to their names so you’re in for a whopper of a golf vacation.
A bit further south, and well worth the drive, The Royal Laurentien golf course, designed and run by the Ménard family, may well be the prettiest course in the area. Every hole on this rollicking roller coaster boasts gorgeous flower plantings. Waterfalls, ponds, fountains, a picturesque variety of wooden bridges and meticulous conditioning are all part of the “Royal” experience.
Le Maître, a Fred Couples Signature Design meanders around the Devil’s River. Technically it’s a ClubLink Platinum member course but guests of affiliated Tremblant resorts may play this challenging “Master” that includes forests, huge elevation changes and plenty of water. You’ll soon find out who’s boss.
The first nine at Gray Rocks’ La Belle, the oldest course in the Laurentians, was built in the late 1920s; the back nine was added in the 1950s. The quirkiest hole, Bugaboo (number 14), is cut into a steep hill and has no fairway. The tee and the green are on the same level, so you have to hit a perfect shot on this 150-yard par-3. I found that if I aimed right, my ball would roll down the hill and, with luck, onto the green. From Panorama (number 15), there’s a lovely view of the picturesque village of St-Jovite.
Once you’ve ironed out the kinks, it’s time to tackle La Bête, also at Gray Rocks, where Canadian architect Graham Cooke took full advantage of the rugged mountain terrain. The course winds along a series of plateaus that offer grand vistas of the Laurentians. Seven fairways follow the Devil’s River so you might want to bring your hip waders. From the spectacular La Cascade (number 2) you must hit your drive onto a lower plateau, then cross a creek to a bowl-shaped green. With five man-made lakes, creeks, ponds, marsh and thick forest, this Beast devours little dimpled balls. However, having five sets of tees to choose from allows you to play at your level. That said, wait until you see the Grand Canyon (number 12).
Now that you’re into the swing of things, it’s time to tackle Le Géant. You might want to tuck a few energy bars in your bag to give you stamina for this 6,836-yard Goliath (from the pro tees), rated four-and-a-half stars in Golf Digest. Canadian architect Thomas McBroom has melded the course into the natural mountain terrain with spacious undulating fairways, split-level plateaus, rugged rock outcroppings, two man-made lakes and 52 strategically placed white sand traps. Every hole is memorable, but Concentration (number 18) will stay with you. The 457-yard, par-4 requires players from the back three tee blocks to cross a lake on their drive. From there it’s a steep descent to the green with a spectacular view of Lac Tremblant far below.
Save Le Diable for your grand finale. Host to the Export ‘A’ Skins Game in 1999, Le Diable gave pros John Daly, Fred Couples, David Duval, Canadian winner Mike Weir and fans a devilishly good time. Well-known American architects Michael Hurdzan and Dana Fry designed long fairways meandering through a red-pine forest. Numerous waste bunkers and 44 fiery red sand traps make you feel a bit like a Japanese Zen gardener. The toughest hole, Le Géant (number 5) is 600 yards from the gold tee blocks. I think the back nine is the most spectacular, especially Oh Boy (number 14), where your drive must cross an enormous ravine, and Gray Rocks (number 15), with a superb view of sparkling Lac Ouimet. You can’t help but have one hell of a good time.
Get there fast
Fly Porter Airlines direct from Toronto City Airport to Tremblant International Airport from mid-June to mid-Sept. From there they shuttle you to your Tremblant hotel. You can be in your room in about two hours after lift off.
Where to stay
I highly recommend the Ermitage du Lac boutique hotel just steps from the heart of Tremblant Village. You can enjoy a delicious buffet breakfast, included in your room rate, by the fireplace or on the patio. Free Internet, a small gym, swimming pool and hot tub are all part of the amenities. The intimate scale of the place makes you feel right at home and the staff bends over backwards to make your stay pleasant.
It’s fun just to stroll through the pedestrian village and follow your nose to a place that appeals. But, in case you can’t decide, here are a few of my favourites.
Chef Martin Faucher sears fresh fois gras to perfection at Aux Truffes Save room for the selection of Quebec raw milk cheeses.
In the mood for a great steak? Head to La Forge. www.laforgetremblant.com
Choose from a selection of 5000 vintages at the Winebar in the posh Quintessence Hotel. Your might spot actors Michael Douglas and the lovely Catherine Zeta-Jones who bought property in the area.
La Savoie, great for a foursome, serves traditional fondues and raclette. I recommend the Chrysanthème: shrimps, scallops, filet mignon and veggies cooked in a spicy broth, then dipped in garlic, Dijon, Béarnaise, tomato and pepper sauces.
Enjoy sophisticated tapas on the patio at L’Avalanche.
By Anita Draycott