GOLF IN ONTARIO BEGINS HERE
Whether it is the 8th Wonder of the World as many feel it deserves to be, Niagara Falls is and will remain one of the great natural wonders. An extraordinary destination that annually attracts 12 million visitors each year to Ontario, Canada from every corner of the globe.
The falls, with its incredible beauty and awesome power, is a jaw-dropping sight because of the sheer volume of water that flows over the brink of the falls. This wondrous sight is accompanied by the thundering sound of the water cascading at an immense speed to meet the river below.
Since 1885, The Niagara Parks Commission has been the guardian of the Falls and curators of the 56 km Niagara River Parkway where golfers will find three of Ontario’s best championship courses along a stretch of roadway that visiting Prime Minister Winston Churchill called “the prettiest Sunday drive in the world”.
The Whirlpool Golf Course, owned and operated by The Niagara Parks Commission, opened to fanfare in 1951. Located on the Niagara River Parkway 10 minutes north of the falls, this gently rolling parkland course is located on the precipice of the Niagara River Whirlpool and Gorge and borders the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens.
Just last month a few of us media types were reminded of the gem designed by legendary Canadian architect Stanley Thompson. Measuring over 7,000 yards from the back tees, Whirlpool is a local favourite and consistently ranks among the top public courses in Canada. With wonderful hole variety it’s a hallmark of Stanley’s Thompson’s very best work where the holes are uniquely memorable and a round of golf seems to pass by all too quickly. In the classic stone and timber clubhouse reminiscent of a bygone era, the airy dining room offers locally inspired fare along with panoramic views of the tree-lined Parkway and Whirlpool’s 18th hole.
Located 10 minutes south of the falls along the Niagara River Parkway, a one-kilometer driveway that provides glimpses of manicured fairways leads to the clubhouse of Legends on the Niagara, an architectural gem inspired by the image of a 19th century fort. Initially conceived by Niagara Parks as a means of preserving an historic battlefield from the War of 1812, the 1,000 acre golf complex at Legends opened in 2001 with two championship courses, a 9-hole short course and a 45-acre golf academy designed by Canada’s two leading contemporary architects Douglas Carrick and Thomas McBroom, both disciples of Whirlpool’s Stanley Thompson.
Douglas Carrick’s Battlefield course at Legends on the Niagara with its generous tree-lined fairways and strategically placed bunkers borders the hallowed grounds of the 1814 Battle of Chippawa and hosted the 2004 LPGA Canadian Women’s Open. On the south side of the property, Thomas McBroom’s Ussher’s Creek course meanders through the surrounding forest, with narrower fairways and the ever present Ussher’s Creek. Both courses mirror Stanley Thompson’s ‘make it memorable’ philosophy and combined with Whirlpool, they represent the only place in Canada where all three celebrated architects can be found within minutes of each other and under the same ownership. Between them, the Niagara Parks architects Stanley Thompson, Thomas McBroom and Douglas Carrick have designed close to half of the top-100 ranked golf courses in Canada. Legends on the Niagara became a Certified Audubon Sanctuary in 2014 and Whirlpool is currently pursuing the same distinction.
Whirlpool Golf Course and Legends on the Niagara are located within 10 minutes of Niagara Falls, on the Canadian side of course, and offer up a number of Stay and Play packages with the Best Western Cairn Croft or the Comfort Inn Lundy’s Lane online but no doubt a package can be customized to meet your specific needs. www.niagaraparksgolf.com.
Note to all of our American friends reading this that you are getting at least a 25% discount on your package due to the currency exchange!
Niagara Falls today has become a world class destination and can satisfy the needs and wants of just about anyone. Definitely loaded with family attractions but since most of us golfers are over that we will let the families fend for themselves on sourcing that stuff.
You are never too old to enjoy the sights and sounds of the falls and if you have not taken the helicopter ride over the falls or the Maid of the Mist below the falls – you should!
No doubt that PM Churchill, if he could see that “prettiest drive in the world”, would be proud to see the number of wineries that are now a part of that drive! The Niagara Region has become famous for its wines and is gaining international recognition. That is more my style and there are about 25 wineries to choose from. From pure and simple tasting to fine dining. Check out the festival scene in Niagara as you will always fine the wineries involved – go figure – wine makes things fun! Right?! One of the most popular festivals is the Niagara Icewine Festival in January. Ok, you can leave your clubs at home for this one.
Bars and restaurants abound and will serve any pallet, pubs, dinner clubs and wine bars – go figure! For the gamblers amongst you Fallsview Casino and Casino Niagara might just be your ticket be it the slots or tables. For the boys looking for the kinds of places that they should not go to (maybe)…Lundy’s Lane might just be your ticket.
Make it a weekend or make it a week, there are more top quality golf courses in the Niagara area that you can play on any one trip!