More Eastern Ontario Hidden Gems…
Return to Belleville, “address unknown” made me think of that old Elvis tune with the lyric, “return to sender, address unknown’ from his Girls, Girls, Girls album.
Up until this year the entire region to which Belleville and Picton are the focal points – and embraced by the tourism regions of Bay of Quinte, Quinte West and Prince Edward County – where pretty much address unknown to me.
It is now my second visit and I say that there are good times to be had here!
I know of a least five courses that are worthy of the visit, tons of recreational opportunities, beautiful sunsets and some 40 wineries.
From my previous piece where my buddy Brian and I played the dynamic and side by side Black Bear Ridge and Trillium Wood, since then Score Golf has come out with its list of Top 100 Courses in Canada and Black Bear came in at #54. Just out of COVID captivity, my first weekend visiting offered up little else other than golf, but the golf was impressive enough to lure me back.
Timber Ridge Golf Course, Bay of Quinte and Picton Golf & Country Club were on the agenda for this weekend, so make it a long one, why not?! This time a little wining and a visit to the oldest pub in Picton enhanced the long weekend.
The Timber Ridge Golf Course, 20 minutes west of Bellville, has been a hit since opening in 2001 including a nomination by Golf Digest as “Best New Canadian Golf Course” as well as listed as a “Must Play” in Toronto Life Magazine. With a ranking in the Top 50 public access courses in the province and an official address is Brighton, Ontario, I would continue it on as a “Hidden Gem.”
The course has an outstanding layout with elevation changes and truly rolling fairways where you will find yourself with your fair share of uneven lies. The greens are what really make the course, and certainly will test your short game. I was somewhat fortunate on this day, not too many wild putts, but I could see that the possibility was there.
Also not crazy in overall length, but check the ratings before you choose your tees and make it a fun day. Not a lot of water to deal with but plenty of bunkers make up for that. It is way more fun to play from sand – right?!
Number 7 might be the toughest hole on the course, a long par 4 with accuracy is key. Risk reward 10th might be my favourite hole, to go or not to go from an elevated tee. An outstanding course feature are the many and expansive jig saw puzzle shaped bunkers protecting the greens.
Check the website for current fees and more info. Last I checked walking on weekends rate was $55 and riding was just south of $80. Stay & Play here is with accommodations in Belleville. http://www.timberridgegolf.net/
Next up the Grand Daddy of the area. Bay of Quinte Golf & Country Club is a classic members club, finely manicured parkland style course, welcoming guests and traveling golfers with open arms. A natural beauty since 1921 will be celebrating reaching the century mark next year.
There are a number of tee boxes to suit your game and even though only 6,500 yards from the tips it is a challenge as I found out. Playing with a couple of local ringers, I was lured to the back tees…all good, I was the only one at 1 under after 4!
An easy walking course with tree lined fairways as guiding lights on par 4’s and 5’s. Better bring your straight game or you will meet a bunch of foliage! Greens are on the smallish side and relatively flat, but don’t discount the read, just like Pebble Beach, if you are on in regulation you have a good birdie putt!
A great collection of par 3’s highlighted the round for me with water coming into play on a number of them as it does on at least 50 percent of the holes. One of the unique hazards that really does not come into play is the rail line that passes through the course and that you crisscross a few times. Especially fun when the choo-choo comes along. Should you be having a good round and it turns south on you, you would not be the first to say your round was derailed! https://www.bayofquintegolf.com/
And now to the Great Grand Daddy of the region and one another of the oldest on Ontario, the historic Picton Golf & Country Club, opened in 1907 and rests high above Picton Bay (Lake Ontario) for those not familiar. A most enjoyable track, another of Eastern Ontario’s hidden gems and best value by far, with a 19th hole second to none in the area offering spectacular views of the lake and bay.
The first hole leads you off with panoramic views over the bay and the first fairway below. The course offers a well-balanced collection of parkland style holes fairways lined with mature vegetation, OK big trees. Links style holes appear wide open but beware of the fescue! Water comes into play on 7 holes. Visually there is water on the first hole but if you happen to find it – go straight to the bar.
The 18th is a most challenging uphill par 3 with the bay lining the right side. Should you hit in the water here – fear not, you are only minutes from the 19th hole!
The scorecard might indicate that it is a little on the short side by modern standards with the tips at 6,200 yards. Don’t be fooled.
Off to the 19th hole we went, we usually do what we are told. And we were told that if we only did one thing here it was to have a drink at “The View”, the best waterfront restaurant in The County! https://www.pictongolf.ca/
The Belleville/Bay of Quinte Region and Prince Edward County has evolved into the go-to destination for those wanting to explore its natural beauty and play some great golf!
Over 1,200 kilometres of gorgeous shoreline makes the region a premier destination for boaters, sailors and anglers alike. The region also boasts many art galleries, festivals, live theatre, a strong culinary scene, as well as wine, craft beer and cider tours.
Speaking of wine, we had the opportunity to sample some. There are 40 or so wineries in Prince Edward County which makes a wonderful distraction after a round of golf. We made it to the Huff Winery after our round which was a great experience. They were extremely popular on the late Saturday afternoon as was neighbouring TerraCello which we not able to be accommodated at.
What are a couple of thirsty guys to do? Hungry and not wanting to deal with winery line ups, we Googled ‘Picton Pubs’ of course and the first to come up was the oldest in the area, Coach’s Pub and Grillhouse, so off we went! Not much of an impression from the outside – blame COVID – but a delight on the inside! No red wine but the Rickard’s Red was just fine – great wings too!
Sooo to sum it all up from a golfer’s standpoint, 5 outstanding and different courses to choose from including Black Bear Ridge ranked #54 in Canada’s Top Courses and Trillium Wood – both covered in our previous issue. If you missed it http://travelinggolfer.net/2020/06/29/eastern-ontarios-hidden-gems/
Hidden Gems they are, I say “The locals here are spoiled!”
For more information on these regions definitely check out these two links.
Bay of Quinte Tourism – https://bayofquinte.ca/tourism/
Quinte West – https://www.quintewest.ca/en/visit-discover/index.asp