Review: Le Geant and Le Diable, A Look At Golf in Mont Tremblant
There are many popular destinations in Canada that you might consider for your summer golfing holidays. Notably, there is Cabot Cape Breton in the east, or the Thompson duo in the Rockies with Banff and Jasper. Or perhaps you are looking for something closer to Toronto with the Muskokas. All are great options, but if you are looking somewhat off the beaten path, golfing in Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, might just be an option.
With plenty of other things to do, there is more than just golf here. Explore Parc National du Mont-Tremblant, go hiking or mountain biking, spend time in the village or at the casino, or escape to the Nordic spa (highly recommend!). Mont-Tremblant is a lot less crowded than other destinations during the week, and playing a quick round at twilight or early in the morning is easily doable. Like most destinations, weekends are busy, but the appeal of Mont-Tremblant adds up for a viable option for short term golf trips.
Mont-Tremblant is a popular destination, but is generally known for its great skiing facilities and winter activities. In the mid ’90s, however, Intrawest, the skiing village’s ownership group, wanted to attract more people year round. And so, Tremblant’s golfing story started with the opening of Le Geant in 1995, which Golf Digest named as the 2nd best course to open in Canada that year. As a result of its success, Dr. Michael Hurdzan & Dana Fry were commissioned to design Le Diable, in 1998.
Le Geant translates to The Giant, an adequate name for a golf course built in the Laurentian Mountain range. This Thomas McBroom design started the golf boom in the area and remains one of the top public golf courses in Quebec. The course starts in the river valley and then meanders into and around a central mountain top. Keep in mind, while this is a mountainous setting, it is certainly not to the scale of the Rockies.
Many of the holes have quite the variability in elevation with greens tucked into the hillsides. This design feature at Le Geant does become a little repetitive after a while, but it has its good moments too. Fittingly, the tee markers are the same as a ski trail’s difficulty scale: green = forward/easiest, blue = moderate/intermediate, black = advanced, double black = expert.
Le Geant has seen better days. From what I understand, it was once an immaculately kept golf course, considered among Canada’s finest. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it closed in the spring of 2020, but did not re-open that year or 2021. In June 2022, the golf course re-opened, but with minimal maintenance completed during that period, it is easy to see the scars of its closure. While everything played OK, there are some obvious conditioning issues remaining.
A welcoming, reachable Par 5 greets the golfer at the 1st. This is a gentle opener where you may spot a few onlookers from the nearby chalets. The fairway softly tumbles from tee to green.
The second is a relatively short Par 4, with a cape style design around the pond guarding nearly the entire left side. The central bunker located just short of the green is a cool feature.
Beginning with the drop-shot par 3, 3rd, featuring a rather small green, holes 3-7 use a rather dramatic piece of land cut into the hillside. At the 4th, 5th, and 7th, the fairways rise and fall with the rolling terrain.
The 8th tumbles back down the hillside towards the river valley. This long Par 4 is rated the hardest on the course, and it certainly has some teeth, playing at a lengthy 492 yards from the back tees with a green surrounded by four bunkers.
Making the Turn
The short Par 3, 10th, is one of the more visually pleasing holes on the course. The rock outcroppings reminds me of the Muskokas and the backdrop of Mont-Tremblant village and ski hill is quite nice. There is a steep drop-off on the left of the hole.
The short Par 4, 11th, is one of those exhilarating holes that most average golfers love. Its elevation change, sweeping vista, and plenty of risk and reward opportunity provides a fun experience tee to green. Rip a driver over the corner for an easy up and down.
Holes 12 and 14-16 meander up, down and across more rolling terrain as you may expect. I did not find any of them particularly interesting or noteworthy. I suspect having almost half of your back nine described as forgettable says a lot about the course.
However, the 13th is of note. This shorter Par 4 plays over a roller coaster fairway to a heart-shaped green. Here, the rolling terrain can create blind approach shots, which only require a short wedge, and depending on where the pin is, some placements are challenging to get near.
The 17th is reachable Par 5 with a creek naturally cut deep between the perched green and the end of the fairway. The choice is yours: layup and hit a wedge into the green; or if you hit a good drive, go for it in two and play hero for the day.
The finisher at Le Geant is fantastic—the semi-blind tee shot hit to an elevated fairway over a deep pond is a really good use of the land available. In order to avoid a blocked approach shot, the golfer must keep the ball up the left side. The approach plays way down the hillside to the green guarded by a bunker on the left.
Overall, Le Geant is a decent round of golf. We sped through our early morning round, and the price was OK for peak summer. The views are nice, and there are some good golf holes. However, there is little variation from hole to hole, in particular with the green surfaces. In truth, I doubt I will make a return trip; it just was not my cup of tea. But it was nice to give it a go.
Le Diable (The Devil) is the sister course to Le Geant and is named after the Devil’s River which flows from the National Park (Quebec National Park) through the town of Mont Tremblant. And how fitting is it that the course was designed by Dr. Michael Hurdzan and Dana Fry, the duo famous for Devil’s Pulpit and Devil’s Paintbrush (now known as the Pulpit Club).
Opening in 1998, Le Diable quickly became another success. In 1999, it hosted a Telus skills game during which Mike Weir claimed victory over John Daly, David Duval, and Fred Couples. The course features a series of holes with big, billowing pines and large sandy areas, a small design feature borrowed from the likes of Pine Valley and Carolina Sand Hills golf courses. I especially like this design feature; it is quite visually pleasing.
The 1st hole is not as gentle a handshake as over at Le Geant. This long Par 4 has a massive bunker hat runs from the tee to the green (these areas are more or less waste areas rather than bunkers)
The 2nd hole continues the theme found at the 1st. At this Par 5, the golfer must navigate another massive waste area down the left and then a water hazard further up the hole, as well as several bunkers that pinch in off the right. Certainly, a tough start requiring both length and accuracy.
The tough golf shots do not stop at the 3rd, where a 190 yard Par 3 requires your tee shot to carry the large pond that encroaches on the left and directly in front of the green. However, a bailout option to the right exists. The green has some real nasty movement in it, too.
The 4th is a neat Par 4. The tee boxes are built out on a little enclave which juts out into the pond fronting the 3rd. A forced carry over the waste area to a wide fairway is welcome after three tough tee shots to begin the round. The approach plays beautifully into a nice green that is flanked by deep bunkers on the left.
The stretch from 5th to the 8th feels like a completely different course. Gone are the massive bunkers and tall pines. Here a more traditional parkland layout is displayed for the golfer. Of note, the massive drop shot par 3, 6th, is featured prominently the club’s marketing effort – although, at times, this hole feels overcrowded by trees.
The stretch from the 9th to the 11th reintegrates the design features found earlier in the round. The waste area again flanks the entire left side of each hole. Sorry to anyone hitting it left that day!
Making the Turn
At the 11th, the green rises well above the rest of the playing surface. There is a roughly 20-30 foot slope down to the bottom of the bunker on the left. Avoid this area for sure! I saw my playing partner digging for gold a few times on this hole.
Looking back down the fairway, a great view awaits, with the 18th to your left and a cluster of stately pines in the centre framing the scenery beautifully.
At the 14th, your drive must cover a deep brush area requiring a minimum 220-yard carry from the back tees. This is a challenging hole if your ball striking is not in form. While the fairway seems wide enough to spray it, the contours push balls away from the playing area.
The signature hole at Le Diable has to be the Par 5 15th. This short Par 5 plays mega-downhill and is easily reachable in two. The view from up here is really nice—I bet it would look magnificent in the fall. The relatively small green is tucked into the hillside, is canted from right to left, and has quite a bit of movement in it. And let’s not forget: it is flanked by bunkers on both sides.
As your round comes to a close, the 18th returns to the design style we saw earlier and in the middle portion of the round. This is a nice bookend to a lovely round of golf at Le Diable and makes everything feel more connected.
Le Diable is my preferred routing of the duo. The sand and tall pines mix the course offers on numerous holes is captivating to play through. I also felt the routing, design, fun factor, and conditioning were all stronger than at Le Geant. I think this is the opposite viewpoint of many others who have played here – but this is my firm opinion and it is not really close. If I am to head back someday this will be a repeat play for me for sure.
Neither Le Geant and Le Diable have appeared on a SCOREGolf Top 100 list since 2018, and neither were ranked by Beyond The Contour panellists in 2022. In my assessment, Le Diable is likely among a handful of fringe courses just outside the Top 100 in the country. In contrast, Le Geant far too often loses me with its ho-hum design. I find the greens far too often tucked into the hillside and are simply round in shape with minimal tilt.
Golfing in Mont-Tremblant offers a great opportunity to play some exciting courses and enjoy other activities at the same time. This review simply focuses on two publicly accessible courses in the area. There are still several other offerings nearby, such as Royal Laurentian, which was recommended to me and is now on the radar. If anyone has any feedback about it, I would love to hear it. And of course, there is also La Bete and Le Maitre (Clublink) for you to check out.