By: Scott MacLeod

There is no doubt that Ontario is the centrepiece of golf in Canada.  With more than 800 golf courses there is something to offer for just about every player.  What is largely unknown and under-appreciated, however, is that many of these golf courses can be found in South-Eastern Ontario.

This is home to both the “The Great Waterway”, as it is known, which runs from the Quinte Region in the west all along Lake Ontario and the Great St. Lawrence Seaway to the Quebec Border.

It also includes the National Capital Region. Most Canadians know Ottawa as the political centre of Canada but within the urban environment and reaching out to the Ottawa valley, it could be considered a “golf capital” as well.

Overall this is a diverse region sporting many natural and man-made attractions. Ideal as a travel destination or a place to choose as your home, golf is revered here and there are plenty of fantastic golf courses to choose from.

Among those dozens of attractive and well-priced options are host courses for the top circuits like PGA TOUR Canada (both the National Capital Open (Ottawa) and The Great Waterway Classic (Bath) ), for the Golf Canada and provincial association events, and others always under consideration for many Canadian golf rankings.

Taming The Bear

18th hole at the Black Bear Ridge Golf Course

At the furthest western limits of this region lie a trio of courses built in the last two decades and helping grow the Belleville/Quinte area into a golfer’s delight.  Timber Ridge Golf Club (Brighton) joins Trillium Wood Golf Club and Black Bear Ridge Golf Course (side by side in Belleville) in this attractive grouping

When owner Brian Magee set out to build a golf course he was determined that it would be no ordinary product.  A passionate golfer and successful business man, he has high standards and knew that in the very competitive golf industry; he would have to offer an experience at a level that would be respected and appreciated.

He accomplished that and more in Black Bear Ridge, a ScoreGolf Top 100 Course in the Canada and an award-winning design from the day it opened in 2005.

The expansive undulating property sits on is an idyllic golf setting, if you prefer a course of endless interest and natural beauty.  You only need to look to the first tee and the vista it provides from seventy-five feet above the fairway below to begin your appreciation for the place.

Despite its youth, the main golf course has great bones provided by the mature landscape.  It looks less created and more “drawn out” from the land.  Playing as little as 5,145 yards and all the way back to 7,238 yards, there is a course within that to suit every player.

You can pick your distance without compromising the beauty and interest in each hole which were crafted in a way that there are limited similarities between each.  They are distinct designs; ones that leave a lasting impression.

A couple years ago Mr. Magee made mention that the golf course was made for “maximum enjoyment” and it is hard to argue that this was not accomplished.

“Smuggs” – A Beacon  For Golfers 

Smuggler’s Glen Golf Course

Just east of Kingston (Canada’s first capital), in the heart of the picturesque Thousand Islands, lies the Smuggler’s Glen Golf Course in Lansdowne, Ontario.

An extension of the historic Glen House Resort, “Smuggs” as it is known by local golfers, opened in 2005 and  quickly become a beacon for golfers along the 401 corridor and even into the reaches of Ottawa and Toronto.

Boasting land more reminiscent of what is found in the Muskoka Region of Ontario, the 6600-yard course winds its way up and down glacial outcroppings of rock, serving up one unique test after another.

So well regarded was the course that it was nominated as the Best New Course in Canada by Golf Digest Magazine in 2006.  It has been a perennial winner of various awards for both its design and conditioning.

Snaking through a 300-acre property, the golf course features many elevated teeing grounds, some rising to almost a hundred feet above the landing area below.  It all starts with a panoramic view of the St. Lawrence River on the first tee and concludes with a massive 608 yard, par five that leaves a lasting impression.

No matter how you play the 7,000 square foot, cottage-like clubhouse waits for you to enjoy after your round.  Built on a high point overlooking the St. Lawrence River, the clubhouse was designed to match its’ cherished and rustic natural environment. 

Upper Canada Golf Course – Exalting Excellence 

Upper Canada Golf Course

In 2013 the PGA TOUR Canada’s Great Waterway Classic was held near Morrisburg at the historic Upper Canada Village and Golf Course.

The St. Lawrence Parks Commission, an agency of the Government of Ontario, operates the golf course and its adjoining facilities including the very famous Upper Canada Village, a reproduction of life in the Ontario in the mid-19th century.  The setting for the Robbie Robinson-designed course places it almost exactly an hour’s drive from the major centres of Ottawa, Montreal, and Kingston, a convenience enjoyed by the many golfers who have travelled here to play since the course opened back in the 1960’s.

Golfers have the option of arriving by car, boat (at the Crysler Park Marina), or air (at the 2800 foot VFR air strip adjacent to the golf course).  It quickly became a favourite amongst golfers and in making a visit to the course, you quickly find out why.

“It’s definitely a parkland style course,” says Allen McNairn the Manager at Upper Canada who also adds that in keeping with that feel, the layout is very lush and green at almost all times.  The terrain presented to Robinson on which to craft his handiwork is an ideal setting for a golf facility, especially for players who appreciate wildlife and the magic feeling that comes from being dwarfed by nature at times.

World Class Golf In The Nation’s Capital

The Marshes 12th hole

In September of 2015,  the best junior-aged female golfers in Canada will head to Ottawa.  Their destination will be one of the strongest public golf course in the a city that is home to more than 70 courses, The Marshes Golf Club in Kanata.

Affiliated with the Brookstreet Resort, The Marshes Golf Club, is a course owned by Sir Terry Matthews, the entrepreneur who also owns the Celtic Manor Resort in Wales, the host site of the 2010 Ryder Cup.

The Marshes represents the final design collaboration between Robert Trent Jones, Jr. and Sr. The designers were presented with an unusual site that encompassed many natural features such as wetlands, meadows, and hardwood forests. The course was carefully routed around these natural features to enhance the golfing experience and to provide a strategic interest. The result qualified as an Audubon Cooperative Wildlife Sanctuary Course and a championship style golf course, which was hosted five PGA of Canada Senior Championships.