Editor’s Choice: Ten Canadian Golf Courses To See In 2023
Here at Beyond The Contour, we have travelled to the places you travel to in this country, driven the roads to get to the golf courses you want to see, and flown the routes the frequent flyers fly. Yet our country provides so much to explore, see, and play. With over 2,200 golf courses in Canada, here are ten from each author that we want to see in the New Year. For variety’s sake, we avoided anything on SCOREGolf‘s or Beyond The Contour‘s Top 100. Where are you playing in 2023?
Alex’s Ten To See
Huron Pines, Ontario
I don’t know anything about Huron Pines, but from what I had found looking at Google Maps, it certainly looks interesting. I spotted some tall pines, good-looking bunkers, and undulating greens. And who doesn’t like discovering a hidden gem?
Elk Island, Alberta
Stanley Thompson designs are some of my favourite courses, especially the ones which offer design characteristics found at Cape Breton Highland Links—my all-time favourite course. From what I understand of Elk Island, there are some similarities, and being in a National Park is an awesome trait.
I have spotted this golf course featured a few times on Canadian Golf Journalist Adam Stanley’s Instagram. Combine that with family connections bringing me to Ottawa, it looks like a decent new place to play a round.
Niagara on the Lake is one of North America’s oldest golf courses. Built right up against the shores of Lake Ontario and down the street from the quaint downtown area of Niagara-On-The-Lake, I am hoping it might make a great spot to catch a twilight nine after a day at one of the many local wineries.
Walter Travis designed 3 courses in Canada. The two I have played—Lookout Point and Cherry Hill Club—are some of the Country’s best. Plus, everything I have seen and heard from Beyond The Contour author’s Andrew (here) and Zachary (here) about Grand-Mere makes it a must-play. Can’t wait to check this one off my list.
This is another one of those courses that I spotted from perusing Google Maps that I know little about. But it looks to be interesting, and the photos from the club’s website sure are intriguing. There appears to be plenty of land movement and water on the course.
Bridgewater is another Stanley Thompson design. Again, Google Maps aerials and course photos have been helpful spotting some potential new courses to check out. A fun fact about Bridgewater is that it hosted the 1933 Ontario Open, won by golfing legend Sam Snead.
Falcon Golf is featured at #25 on the website Top 100 Golf Courses for golf in Quebec. With few publicly accessible courses on this list, Falcon always stood out to me as a place I might one day play, and with a planned trip to Grand-Mere in 2023, this might be a good place for a pit stop to check out what the Graham Cooke design has to offer.
This Thomas McBroom design is listed as #76 best course in Ontario on Top 100 Golf Courses. Based on what I have seen and heard from a friend who played Timberwolf, it might be better than that. I suspect the remoteness away from the hustle and bustle of Southern Ontario makes it a course less travelled. I am intrigued to head up and play it someday soon.
North Bay, Ontario
The final course on my list is North Bay Country Club. Half constructed by Stanley Thompson and the other half by Howard Watson, the Northern part of Ontario has such beautiful topography to explore. Getting to experience that combined with Stanley Thompson design is right up my alley.
Ben’s Ten To See
Nanaimo, British Columbia
A further deep dive into my A.V. education, and northern Vancouver Island is always forgotten about.
Fauquier, British Columbia
Roadside stops, the spontaneous ones where you see golf and get out of your car and play, are some of the most fun golf can provide.
Cherryville, British Columbia
The Okanagan area is full of fancy resort-style golf courses, but the area can provide dramatic, home-grown efforts, too. I have always had enjoyed the local courses that you might not know that can provide something interesting, and this is no different.
Purcell, British Columbia
Trev Dormer’s six hole loop opens in 2023, and honestly, it looks unlike anything else in British Columbia. The opening hole, across the St. Mary’s River, is bound to be about as dramatic as a first hole gets in this country.
Fort MacLeod, Alberta
The oldest golf course west of Brantford, and close enough to me that I have no excuses in ’23. History is cool, and even better when it is paired with a local, grassroots golf course.
Trev Dormer and Dan Philcox take on the rolling prairie land outside Saskatchewan? Count me in.
Perdue Oasis, Saskatchewan
If I am going for Rosetown, nearby Perdue will create an interesting juxtaposition in styles. Still tapping into the prairie landscape, but in a different manner: variety is the spice of life, after all.
Clear Lake, Manitoba
Co-author Andrew Harvie has played here and enjoyed his time here, comparing it to a smaller, toned down version of Waskesiu. Stanley Thompson’s presence in a national park is always enticing.
Located northeast of Winnipeg in Winnipeg’s answer to Muskoka, Pinawa seems reasonably toned down from the usual overzealous Canadian Shield presence of Northern Ontario.
Stanley Park, British Columbia
Local, community golf in a bustling urban centre that provides a great entry point for non-golfers to either play the game, or get into it. It is about time I get to Vancouver to see Stanley Park’s Pitch & Putt, in the heart of downtown.
Andrew’s Ten To See
Brightwood, Nova Scotia
The prospect of Willie Park Jr. AND Donald Ross on the same site is intriguing, but even more so when it gets me in the heart of Halifax (Dartmouth specifically, but greater Halifax). Having seen every Donald Ross east of Nova Scotia, and a healthy amount of Willie Park Jr., their riveting architecture blending together to create a 5500 yard par 68 is the stuff of the British Isles (hopefully). In recent years, Ian Andrew has polished up Brightwood, making the appeal higher than ever. Count me in for this one.
Sure, architects get all the credit and rightfully so, but shapers are the backbones of many of these crews, and two of the best have been Dan Philcox and Trev Dormer. The pair collaborated on adding three new holes to Rosetown’s original 9, and the architecture looks quite interesting in photos. For now, it is only three holes, but plans to continue to progress over the next 10-12 years are in action. The golf world needs more exciting prairie layouts.
Sudbury is not exactly an excellent golf destination, but it does have a couple sleeper choices for unique northern Ontario golf courses. On my maiden trip to the town, I saw Timberwolf, a shockingly alright McBroom, but the one that has my attention in town is Idlewylde, a George Cumming design with rock outcroppings, lakefront holes, and an apparently good set of greens.
Lakepoint, British Columbia
Notable player-turned-golf architect Oliver Tubb mentioned Lakepoint in passing, and since then, I have been interested in what a Northern BC trip could look like. At the focal point is Lakepoint, a Norman Woods design near Fort St. John. Golf trips to rural Canada are quite possibly the most interesting experiences one can have, and having done trips to Northern Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario, BC is next.
Digby Pines, Nova Scotia
My Nova Scotia education only goes as far as Cabot Cape Breton and Highlands Links, and truthfully, I could find a pretty good list is ten courses I want to see in that province alone (Ken-Wo just missed this list, for example). Digby Pines is one of just a few Stanley Thompson designs in the maritimes, and even if Tom Doak’s Confidential Guide and others have not exactly raved reviews about this place (a true rarity with remote Thompson’s, see here, here, here, and here), I am dying to see Digby Pines.
Saguenay Arvida, Quebec
When Ontario closed golf in early 2021, I went to Quebec for four weekends in a row and sought out the random golf courses that might be good. This led me to Lachute, Grand-Mere, Manoir Richelieu, Sainte-Agathe, and more, and I have a feeling Quebec has one or two more hidden gems in stock (though I highly doubt anywhere in Canada has a course of such hidden value as Grand-Mere). Stanley Thompson’s journey to northern Quebec has me interested because its riverfront property, and some weirdly small greens that seem to fit the original-ish corridors—I am intrigued more than anything.
Purcell, British Columbia
The second introduction from Trev Dormer, and yet another unique amount of holes at six. The golf course begins on a cape-style tee shot around the St. Mary’s River in the heart of the BC Rocky Mountains, with some exciting architectural concepts not usually seen in eastern BC. It is a bit hipster/woke to be excited about a six hole loop, but the prospect of unconventional is a very conventional golf country is exciting. Expected soft opening is sometime in 2023.
Fort McMurray, Alberta
I have family ties to Fort McMurray, so I have been, though I have not yet played golf. And even if Wood Buffalo is the new golf course in town (Furber, 2022), I would not travel across the country for a Les Furber design. Instead, I am interested to see the namesake golf club in Oil Country, a Bill Newis design recently renovated by Wayne Carleton following floods and fires. Apparently a very hard golf course, but I have always liked the look, and like I said for Lakepoint, golf trips to Northern Canada are quite the experience.
I do not foresee a future Northern Ontario trip in my lineup anytime soon, but if there was one coming, Abitibi would be on my list. It was not unusual for some of the heavy-hitting Golden Age architects to visit random places because of a factory of employer wanted a golf course for his workers (like Jasper, Grand-Mere, Marathon, Kawartha, etc), and the same is true at Abitibi, a somehow random Willie Park Jr. some seven and change hours north of Toronto. Kenogamisis, three hours north of Thunder Bay, was a shock: pure untouched Thompson other than a random Les Furber pond, I am hoping the same is true at Abitibi.
Mountain View, Yukon
You do not go to Whitehorse, Yukon just for the golf, but going up to the Yukon, playing some golf, enjoying the scenery and a new place, and exploring an entirely new part of the country is exciting.
Zach’s Ten To See
It’s somewhat near me. For no real reason, I haven’t yet seen it and probably should, since everyone from Ottawa seems to like it.
Country Club of Montreal, Quebec
I played here in the pouring when I was 10 or 11 , but I can’t remember a single thing of the course, other than it being short, tight, and quirky. Technically, it’s the most closely Pete Dye-related course in Canada!
White Point Beach, Nova Scotia
Donald Ross: enough said.
Looks like some raw Canadian-Shield golf with a few eye-catching holes around and over a lake. As a decidedly sluggish, indoorsy-type, visiting Northern Ontario bears little appeal to me, but if for some reason I had to go, I’d check this out.
A couple of the holes have a Shaughnessy-esque vibe. Old school and charming and near me.
One of Canada’s least known historic clubs. Located east of Montreal, the game, here, is still played, and presented, essentially in its most rudimentary form.
Thousand Islands, New York*
I’m cheating slightly here, I know. But for a Seth Raynor, located five minutes from the border, I’m willing to bend the rules.
Any reason to head to the Eastern-Townships is one I’ll gladly take. I’ve heard good things from those who’ve played it.
Grenadier Island, Ontario
(Potentially) an A.W. Tillinghast on an island in the St-Lawrence. Count me curious.
Brightwood, Nova Scotia
Willie Park, Donald Ross, and Ian Andrew: enough said.
2 thoughts on “Editor’s Choice: Ten Canadian Golf Courses To See In 2023”
Please dont expect to find any trace of Dye features at the Country Club of Montreal. Thay have long been removed. But the course is still very tight and tough as nails!!
From GTA; Born there ,lived & worked, lived & work in U.S.A. Worked & now live in Alberta. Played Golf Coast to Coast even played Chester N.S. in Fog. (actually kept Score !!) Got a chance to play Kananaskis a couple of times, Played Kelowna area. Played Vancouver Island, Stayed & Played Niagara . Whirlpool rates right up there!! So does Oak Quarry!! But, for some reason, really want to play Elk Island!!
Yeah; know!! A lot people have/do question.