Editor’s Choice: The Top 5 Public Golf Courses in Eastern Ontario

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Eastern Ontario is quickly becoming a destination for Greater Toronto golfers to escape the city. No longer does Muskoka have a monopoly on this market: drive east on Highway 401 from the city and there is a budding golf area ready to be enjoyed in 2023 and beyond. Here are five of our favourites that we recommend you check out.

Trillium Wood Golf Club

Photo credit: Golf in Ontario

Even though Trillium Wood typically sits in the (literal) shadow of next door Black Bear Ridge, the golf course has quietly established themselves as an outstanding public golf course option. Those who journey to Belleville will quickly realize with an excellent opening four holes. Throughout the round, the golfer enjoys the undulating greens, which benefit from a larger size than normal.

There is a sense of serenity and seclusion with Trillium, which finds itself maximizing on the surrounding wooded areas to provide a fun, laid-back atmosphere. Additionally, the grassroots golf operation enjoys a simplistic approach to deliver a fantastic golf experience.

Black Bear Ridge Golf Resort

Photo credit: The Toronto Star

A strong finishing stretch awaits those who journey to Belleville, Ontario for Black Bear Ridge Golf Resort, leaving a good taste in one’s mouth on the way out. However, there are more that should excite golfers at arguably the flagship golf public golf course in eastern Ontario at 115th in Canada, according to Beyond The Contour‘s panel.

An interesting aspect of Black Bear is the vision of the late owner Brian McGee, who built his vision through the thick forest and marsh. As a result, the golf course demands the golfer to be able to shape the ball both ways in order for good shots to be rewarded. With a complete rebranding and refocus under new ownership, expect Black Bear Ridge to be talked about as a golf destination for years to come.

Timber Ridge Golf Course

Located in Brighton, Ontario, Timber Ridge’s unconventional architecture from Steven Ward lends way for one of the craziest experiences in the province. The routing takes the golfer between the thick forest and out of the woods to the open farmland, a nice change from other golf courses in the area that might feel claustrophobic.

Notably, a recent bunker renovation has reduced the size and profile while retaining the strategic interest, and the green complexes are perhaps the most extreme of any public golf course in the province.

Smuggler’s Glen Golf Course

Photo credit: courtesy

Hidden away in Gananoque, Ontario is Smuggler’s Glen Golf Course. Opened in 2005, this Boyd Carr design is extremely picturesque, perched on the hillside overlooking the Beautiful 1000 Islands region while weaving through Canadian Shield rock outcroppings and marshland.

With a strong set of par 3’s and some dramatic elevation changes, Smuggler’s Glen might not be on the hidden gem list for long, but we suggest going before word is out.

To read more on Smuggler’s Glen, click here.

Port Hope Golf & Country Club

A recent renovation has transformed Port Hope, now laying claim to some of the most dramatic lakeside holes in the province. Beginning on the north side of the railway, the golf course transforms when you cross to the new holes, and while not akin to a seaside links in style, the proximity to Lake Ontario allows a very oceanlike feeling to ensue.

Aside from the lakeside holes, the golf inland is old school and quirky, allowing a distinct switch in styles to merge together to create a unique experience. Have you ever played a golf course that starts on a par 3? It awaits roughly an hour east of downtown Toronto.


3 thoughts on “Editor’s Choice: The Top 5 Public Golf Courses in Eastern Ontario

  1. Port Hope’s recent renovation is such a massive let down. For years and years, golfers on the old layout saw the bridge across the rail road tracks and talked about what kind of golf holes could potentially be built over there. Then when it finally happened there was much joy and then ultimately, disappointment. Not necessarily because the new holes are sub-par (the 5th and 8th are quite good), but because the greens were so poorly designed/constructed that it is almost unplayable. Very few pin-able spots on most of the new greens and they are rock hard, yet in many cases provide no area or proper turf quality to run your ball up. This could always be fixed in the future, but will they? Probably not.

    1. Jordan,

      Thanks for your input on this, but I have to say you’re incorrect on many counts. Port Hope is a majestic facility and the new greens are an absolute thrill to play. Maybe you just need some work on your short game? Haha. I would love to play a round together to change your opinion.


      1. Brad I agree. Sounds like Jordan shouldn’t throw stones in a glass house. Not to brag but I played at Port Hope and had 26 putts! Nothing wrong with the greens methinks.

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