Underrated Provinces for Golf in Canada

Underrated and underappreciated golf in Canada.

The simple fact is there is not a Cabot Cliffs or a Banff Springs in every province in Canada.  With respect to the quantity and quality of golf options, provinces across Canada are simply not the same.  The PGA of Canada and Golf Canada co-authored a report, Golf Facilities in Canada 2017, which provides data and information on golf facilities and development in Canada.  One thing that is interesting to this report is their provincial breakdown on the quantity and type of courses available – 6, 9, 12 and 18 hole courses, including resorts, public and private clubs.  http://golfcanada.ca/article/golf-canada-and-the-pga-of-canada-publish-golf-facilities-in-canada-2017-report

In late 2017 I had set up a Twitter poll asking followers to identify the province they feel is most underrated and underappreciated in terms of the quality of public golf available.  Results were modest and by no means provide any scientific data, but do provide insight to the hunch I had that a valid case can be made for all four of these provinces as being underrated and underappreciated.

 

Saskatchewan

With about 10% of Canada’s course offerings there is considerably more to choose here than one might think.  Saskatchewan is only second behind Ontario in 9-hole courses and the ratio is courses to the population base is quite high.  But add a qualitative component to it and only Dakota Dunes appears as a consensus top 100 course in the country.  Perhaps this just proves the point though, as courses like Waskesiu, Kenosee and Moon Lake (among others) are admired by those who play them.  I have a business trip this spring in Regina and will aim to get 2-3 rounds, so look for more insight.  I’ve played Waskesiu and as a Stanley Thompson design, it’s a sensational golfing experience.  Dakota Dunes is rightfully situated well within the country’s top 100 courses, it is fantastic.  It’s a region I would love to spend more time playing.

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Lobstick Tree at Waskesiu in the first fairway

Newfoundland and Labrador

Not exactly top of mind when one thinks golf in Canada and that alone can sway opinion.  But what they lack in terms of quantity they more than make up for in terms of quality.  With only 22 courses/facilities available in the province a focus on two will help make the case for those who voted NL.  Canadian Golf Magazine, in 2015, voted Humber Valley Resort as the 37th best course in the country.  Located on the western side of Newfoundland, south of Deer Lake and north of Corner Brook, this course is a must play for visitors to the Island. The course website has some of the most incredible visual images of the course which will make you want to book your travel for next year.  Within St. John’s, Graham Cooke designed Clovelly Golf Club has two courses but it is the Osprey Course which players will want to experience (likely more than once).  In a pinch for time in St. John’s?  Try Pippy Park which has 27 holes.  Admiral’s Green is their 18-hole course and the view from the par 3 7th is worth the green’s fees alone.  A long fall season will allow players chances to often play well into November.  But to me, Newfoundland will always be an underrated province for golf.  With a few strong, quality options it is certainly underappreciated.

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Minutes from the airport, Admiral’s Green at Pippy Park will give you some incredible views of St. John’s

 

New Brunswick

Here, the challenges seem to be the rather large shadow cast from the quality of golf in Nova Scotia (the Cabot courses alone are driving a boom) and the marketing machine and marriage of value and quality of golf in Prince Edward Island.  Yet that aside, New Brunswick with a population just over 750,000 has over 50 golf facilities available (54 to be exact).  The provinces geography is such that courses are likely no more than an hour away for anyone.  Algonquin holds the mantle of the best course in the province and rightfully so in my opinion.  Rated 77th in Canada in 2015 by CGM (and underrated at that), like Saskatchewan this is the only course cracking the top 100.  But other courses like Royal Oaks, Kingswood, Gowan Brae and unique Herring Cove all add merit to New Brunswick being high on this list.  Worthy of its own accolades, New Brunswick complements the quality of golf in the Maritimes and in so many ways merit its own unique praise.

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The signature hole at Algonquin is their par 3 12th.  Sensational and part of a fabulous stretch of golf holes.

Manitoba

I must confess, I have never golfed in Friendly Manitoba.  And while this is about to change this summer with a visit to Winnipeg.  No one better to connect with on this then Jeremy Kehler of Prairie Golf Magazine.  He was quick to point out that the omission of Granite Hills from top Canadian course rankings is confusing.  Just over an hour outside of Winnipeg it seems he is not underselling this based on my conversations and preliminary research on this course.  Other courses identified, like Minnewasta and Falcon Lake show a level of quality which should not be surprising given the province boasts 130 golf facilities.  Included in this is the country’s only 6-hole course!  After the summer is complete I will have an informed opinion to share but for now I will let Jeremy and others beat the drum for Manitoba.  Fact is it was tied for first with 30% of responses citing Manitoba most underrated and underappreciated.

The winner of this debate is the public player.  Shining a light on the provinces (and great courses within) that don’t get enough golf love provide us chances to get off the beaten path and identify our own golf destinations and courses which we want to play.

Let me know if there is a course you know in any of these four provinces which should be on players and visitors radar.

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2018 Winter Giveaway – Week 1

My attitude toward Canadian winter has been sour and bitter for many years and as an avid golfer this forced break has not been well received by me.  But this year, I am resolving to change my attitude and embrace the winter season.  The test to this, of course, has been an extended stretch of unseasonably cold weather.  But like a bad weather day on the golf course when we dress for the weather it doesn’t feel so bad.  I am here to help!  Over the next nine weeks I will feature weekly giveaways.  And featured prominently will be a new 36 A Day product, a custom toque made by my friends at the 36 Golf Company.  This Canadian company has their own spin on golf wear and I love the quality of the product and the energy they bring to their work (and play).  Also, I will be sharing some product from Snell Golf Canada.  My relationship with Snell is a couple years old now and I feel that this company really understands the everyday golfer.  Making quality product with exceptional value, their direct to consumer model has been well received.

The first giveaway is simple.  Within the blog, I need to hear what is your New Year resolution when it comes to golf.  All responses received before 5:00 pm EST on Tuesday, January 9 will be eligible to win.  A random draw will determine the winner and only one entry per person please.  Let’s enjoy winter, keep warm and get ready for a fabulous 2018 golf season!

Happy New Year and thank you for supporting my blog!

Week1Hat

Share your New Year golf resolution in the comments section to win this prize as Week 1 of the 36 A Day 2018 Winter Giveaway starts!

2017 in Pictures – Tower Ranch

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The par 5 15th hole at Tom McBroom designed Tower Ranch in Kelowna is as good as it gets.

The Story – It took me a few years to truly take advantage of annual business travel.  Tack on an extra day and often it affords me a chance to play 36 in a location I can’t easily get to.  My plans to venture to Kelowna before a work conference was a highlight of the 2017 season.  Tower Ranch was visually stunning, incredibly challenging (for someone who neither brought their A or B game) but so, so much fun to play and experience.  It would be a very tough course to walk and with a four hour drive back to Vancouver planned afterward I didn’t want to push it.  The views of the city and the lake are flawless.  If you’re fortunate enough to play here make sure your camera is well charged, it will get a great workout.  This tee shot from 15 is one of several on the back nine which I look back at with great regularity.

Click here for my full review of Tower Ranch.

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It’s easy to get distracted by the views at Tower Ranch

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The back nine at Tower Ranch moves to the highest part of the course and brings spectacular golf holes like this into play. 

 

2017 in Pictures – Gallagher’s Canyon

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Mere steps away from the 9th tee is this sign…and this view.  Gallagher’s Canyon is aptly named and was a sensational golf experience in Kelowna, B.C.

The Story – A four-hour car ride from Vancouver to Kelowna gave me time to realize I had actually played Gallagher’s before, many years before actually.  Likely around 1993 and while the memories were vague at best, it was nice to get back to this area and play this championship course.  My full review shares more of this fabulous experience but given the fact I arrived just after a shotgun tournament and it was later in the afternoon I seemingly had the course to myself.  There were many photos I could have used here but this one more than any other takes me back to the very early days of my career when at a conference a local resident and I took a well earned afternoon off to play golf.  I had no idea it would take me 24 years to return.  I can assure you I will be back, and it won’t take me 24 years next time!

Click here for my full review of Gallagher’s Canyon

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In just under two hours I went from a mountain pass snowstorm to a tranquil tee shot at Gallagher’s Canyon.  I loved the drive in from Vancouver.

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On the first tee at Gallagher’s Canyon.  Just awesome!

 

 

 

 

2017 in Pictures – Bad Weather Golf

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Sometimes when you’re getting rained off the course you just have to laugh

The Story – I played a lot of golf this fall.  Mostly alone.  And mostly in poor, bad or even awful weather.  But no memories of nice or even decent weather.  And I don’t mind one bit.  After a season of mediocre play my fall experience helped me rediscover the fun of the game and forced me to be imaginative in some less-then-ideal conditions.  This day, for example, my oldest stepson and I hoped to get 9 holes in before forecast rains hit.  It was very windy and when we got to the 3rd fairway and looked north the sky was an ominous grey/green.  Seconds later the heavens opened and less then five minutes later after taking some modest cover behind a large tree, the course was completely unplayable.  Standing water everywhere, pin flags blown out and holes full of water.  Temperatures dropped almost 10c in half an hour.  Of course, living only 10 minutes from the course we were home, dry and warm in no time.  We also had a great experience and a terrific story to share.

I’ll always look back at this memory and smile.

 

 

 

2017 in Pictures – Lakeview Golf Course

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I made sure I showed up early at Lakeview Golf Course, a municipal course run by the City of Mississauga.  While a tight layout in spots, there are some fantastic golf holes and the history of this course is well promoted

The Story – Truth is there are not many municipal courses which are on my Canadian Course Bucket List.  This one is and perhaps it was influenced by proximity – I used to live in Mississauga – but truthfully, it is more out of a deep respect for the history of this course.  The course is directly across the road from the Toronto Golf and Country Club and basically sharing the same terrain I was hopeful some of the aura and quality of Toronto would rub off here.  It’s an unfair comparison and Lakeview has it’s own unique assets.  Playing with three seniors who are part of a larger group playing weekly, they both guided me along the course and took no time to needle me for errant misses.  Glad I was able to fit in so well!  Municipal courses play an important role in golf in Canada and I need to make more of an effort to play more.  Lakeview was a fun golf experience and I am glad they showcase their rich and proud history so prominently.

Click here for my full course review of Lakeview.

 

2017 in Pictures – The Briars

 

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Crossing the Black River and heading to the 11th tee at The Briars not only provides players one of the best views on the course but also opens up a fabulous stretch of golf holes.

The Story – I was privileged to be a guest of Scott Stevens (of Eat Sleep Golf fame) at his home course, The Briars, located near the south shores of Lake Simcoe.  We enjoyed a relaxed round and managed to avoid looming rainfall, and explore collaborative opportunities relating to our golf interests.  Already, I am working in partnership to profile Eat Sleep Golf course video flyovers to complement my course reviews, where applicable. Scott’s work is tremendous.  As is his home course.  The front nine was developed by Stanley Thompson and I am always a fan of a classic Thompson design.  Scott and I enjoyed the round and the chance to get to know each other better.  The course record was safe, we weren’t flirting with career lows, but we did agree the opportunity to tee it up together was something we’d like to experience again.

Looking at that photo takes me back to a wonderful place, a new golf friend, and a classic course I can’t wait to experience again.

My full review of The Briars can be found here.

Also, click here for a link to Eat Sleep Golf.