First and foremost, you’ll have to excuse my eastern bias, which will be evident in the selections below. These are just unique, atypical things I love in Canada. I am not sure why, in most cases, other than that they strike, or struck, a spiritual cord.
1. Emerging from the Underpass at St George’s Golf & Country Club
Until you emerge from the cramped and humid concrete tunnel, which passes under Islington Road and connects the parking lot and clubhouse to the golf course and detached pro-shop on the other side, it is difficult to imagine the awe-inspiring scale of what awaits you. Once you do, however, and see the massive oaks towering above the climbing first fairway and the sprawling, starkly-white Thompson bunker-complexes, it becomes instantly clear that you are in for a special day on what is my favourite course in Canada. Nowhere else in golf have I so strongly felt the architectural concept of “compress and release” as in this moment.
2. Dining room at Memphrémagog
The clubhouse at Memphremagog feels like something from Downton Abbey. Baronial is how I can best describe its atmosphere and decor: from the pale yellow wall-paper, to the green hardwood floors which so sharply echo every footstep you take upon them, to the brown leather furniture, to the dozen of oil-paintings showing Victorian era golfers upon the links of the old-world, to the fifteen-foot wide chandelier that is probably 3 times more valuable than my house, to the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves stacked with golf’s greatest written words against the interior wall of the main dining room, to the view of the final four holes and the far-off mountain range out of the back windows.
3. Patio at Royal Ottawa Golf Club
Another place that feels like a throwback to a bygone era, in this case when Canadian politicians and power-brokers dawned smoking jackets and drank scotches while they eyed their fellow members hit to the final and devilishly canted green below before heading back across the Ottawa River to their late-night speakeasies downtown. It pains me that the club is planning to modernize this truly wonderful patio (into something that looks like it belongs at a Moxie’s (or Joey’s)).
4. Range at Redtail
It’s cramped, short, lacks a back fence (which causes the perpendicularly running 11th fairway at the back to be littered with over-hit balls), and there are no targets; yet I absolutely love the range here. To me, it symbolizes everything that is so attractive and pure about the facility. As our host told my friend and I, “Redtail isn’t a place where you come grind on your game; it’s a place to play a game of golf in good spirit.” And the game at Redtail feels the way I imagine it does in the old English country: understated, elegant, quick, and sporty.
5. 7th hole at Islington Golf Club
I absolutely love urban golf. I can’t quite pinpoint precisely why—in the same way I like certain paintings and others less so—, but there’s something about the juxtaposition between glassy, high-rise urbanity against green, unspoiled nature that tickles my fancy. And nowhere is it as stark as on the short 7th at Islington. The apartments beyond the green on this drive and pitch par 4 literally form a wall in the backdrop, rendering the club with a real sense of place. I can see why some might not like it, but I do.
To view a West Coast version of the same article, click here.