If you’re from away you may not know that Canada is the second largest country in terms of surface area (under 10 million square km). Canada is also second in terms of the number of golf courses in the world at 2,298 (http://pgaofcanada.uberflip.com/i/834072-golf-facilities-in-canada-2017-report), impressive for a golf-mad country with over 5 million players (according to Golf Canada).
My tip for travel – in any country – is to pick a region or two and spend dedicated time; travel around, play golf and immerse yourself in the food, culture and history of the area. If you’re not from Canada, for goodness sake, do your homework on the weather…we do extremes exceptionally well. I pack a winter hat (toque) in my golf bag all year just do you know. If you’re open to all that’s possible in Canada here are just a few options:
This is easy, visit Newfoundland and Labrador. Within Canada this is one of the most unique geographic and cultural places to see and experience. The capitol, St. John’s is a great base to start your Newfoundland adventure. Simply some of the most honest kind-hearted people you’ll ever want to meet; the food, music and land (and sea) make this one of my favourite places to visit in Canada. Leo’s was the most authentic fish and chips location I’ve experienced in St. John’s though Ches’s is a strong option (order the stuffing and gravy on top of the fish and chips). If you need a quick golf fix there’s a course, Pippy Park, mere minutes from the St. John’s airport though Clovelly is another option in the city. Worth the drive, a visit to Gros Morne National Park will take you close to Humber Valley Golf Resort. One of the top public courses in Canada, the view on the 10th tee gets all the accolades but facts are you better have your camera ready earlier than that. During your visit maybe you’ll get screeched in too?
Fun Fact – Twilingate, NL is the Iceberg Capital of Canada
Wonders of the World
Niagara Falls is a spectacular sight. Almost 175 feet in height and dropping over 28 million liters of water a second. With over 12 million tourists a year this is a very popular destination but for golfers no fear, there are many excellent courses to enjoy too. Golf complements Niagara’s world class wines and the natural beauty of the Falls. The Niagara Parks Commission administers two courses I’d recommend: Oak Hall is a 9-hole course and is just over 1000 yards. Convenient, picturesque and historic it’s fun for the whole family. Whirlpool is set close to the Niagara gorge and was designed by one of Canada’s best known golf architects, Stanley Thompson. My last recommendation is one of the area’s newest courses, Grand Niagara. Developed by Rees Jones, this course is set back and west of the popular Niagara River area. Immaculate conditioning and a stern test, this will give you some solitude after the lights, sounds and experiences of Clifton Hill (although I am more a Niagara on the Lake guy myself).
Fun Fact – The Maid of the Mist began operating in 1846 and is North America’s oldest tourist attraction.
With a relatively season to enjoy summer weather, three of Canada’s most popular islands offer a multitude of activity to complement some of Canada’s best golf:
Cape Breton Island
Located on Canada’s east coast this is becoming Canada’s world class golf destination, hosting three of Canada’s top 5 courses. Add to this my favourite drive in all of Canada, the Cabot Trail, and seafood options galore, you will find yourself planning your next visit before you’ve completed the first trip. Travelers tip – while Cabot’s two courses gets considerable love (and rightfully so) take the time to research options for other courses. I loved playing The Lakes in Ben Eoin, just outside of Sydney. Bell Bay in Baddeck hosts a PGA Tour Canada event but the Baddeck Lobster Supper may be the real draw.
Fun Fact – Historic Keltic Lodge in Ingonish, NS has been in operation since 1940 from June to October.
Prince Edward Island
This is simply my favourite place to play golf in Canada. The island is barely over 200 kilometers wide yet boasts over 25 courses. The golf is exceptional, the courses diverse in their layout. Golf PEI supports the promotion of golf on the Island and provides travel specialists to take care of all your golf travel needs (and from experience they are exceptional). A vibrant food scene, history, culture and incredible proximity to the sea makes this my favourite golf destination in the country. And all that without mention of world famous Cows Ice Cream or the fabulous PEI Brewing Company. I have written extensively about the gentle island, as my 2015 fall golf trip was legendary.
Fun Fact – there is no place on PEI that is more than 16 km from the Sea.
Almost 6000km west of Prince Edward Island is Vancouver Island, set on the west coast of Canada. Victoria is the capital of British Columbia and is a smaller but vibrant city with an historic charm. A walk along the harbourfront is a must set near the majestic Fairmont Empress hotel. I’ve spent a long night sampling local beers at Garrick’s Head but the Bard and Banker along with Bartholomew’s are also highly recommended pubs. The natural beauty of Vancouver Island is on full display at every corner and a visit to Tofino with its beaches, surfing and storm watching potential is a recommendation I would make to anyone visiting the region. Golfers do not despair; the Vancouver Island Golf Trail will guide you along 250 kilometers of picturesque coastline of the eastern Island with 13 courses set to break up the drive. Many of these courses are top rated public courses in Canada including a couple on my own Bucket List of Canadian Courses, Bear Mountain’s two courses (Mountain and Valley) and Storey Creek.
Fun Fact – Vancouver Island boasts on the country’s mildest climates and provides year-round golf opportunities.
Of course, these are only a few destinations in Canada where you can easily mix in golf do a diverse agenda of travel and other leisure activity. I’ll share more destination locations where you can pack the clubs along too and round out a Canadian adventure. Feel free to contact me directly on Twitter (@36aday) and I’ll share any insight on golf and travel in Canada. It’s never too early to start planning a golf travel adventure within Canada. In 2018 I have travel planned for British Columbia (Vancouver…but not the Island), Manitoba (a new adventure for me from a golf perspective) and Saskatchewan (time to revisit this underrated part of the country and explore new highways and courses). I’ll share my experiences and look forward to experiencing some great public courses.