Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

December 17, 2017
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The hit list

Grab your clubs for a romp around Canada's best courses from coast to coast

Golf is my passion and I’m obviously not alone. Would you believe that more Canucks play golf than ice hockey? According to a study done by Golf Canada (governed by the Royal Canadian Golf Association), 21 percent of Canadians are golfers. That’s approximately six million swingers who play more than 70,000 rounds of golf a year. Here’s my hit list of provincial favourites, new and old, from sea to sea.

Predator Ridge, Kelowna, BC

It comes as no surprise that The Ridge was named “best new course in Canada for 2010” by SCOREGolf Magazine. Architect Doug Carrick’s 7190-yard design seamlessly blends eight completely rebuilt holes of the old Peregrine course with 10 new fairways carved through rugged mountain terrain.

From the elevated tees of the number five signature hole — a gorgeous par-three — golfers inhale panoramic views of the violet-tinged Monashee Mountains, granite rock outcroppings and sparkling Lake Okanagan below.

Apart from the drop-dead natural beauty of the place, and a four-and-a-half star rating from Golf Digest, Predator Ridge now boasts 36 holes of golf — the new Ridge and The Predator that has hosted two Skins Games.

It's also a member of the new GolfKelowna.com booking system that also provides savings on stay-and-play packages for 16 local courses.

Greens fees: $110 for visitors; $75 resort guests. predatorridge.com. (All rates are full day adult green fees on weekends in high season. Check with each course for available specials).

The Fairmont Banff Springs, Banff, AB

In 1928, Stanley Thompson designed the Banff Springs Golf Course on the “roof of the world” in Alberta’s Rockies. Thompson’s genius was in refusing to impose a course on its setting. Beneath the towering peaks of Sulphur Mountain and Mount Rundle, the tract meanders through the Bow River Valley. The par-three Devil’s Cauldron best exemplifies Thompson’s mastery of design. Emerging from a pine forest onto elevated tees, you must carry the ball over a boulder-filled glacial lake against a backdrop of mountain peaks.

And thanks to Banff’s Heritage Golf Experience program, you can play the course as Thompson originally routed it. Your 1930s-style round begins on the original first hole (now the 15th). Your caddie, clad in period plus-fours, will help you chose from a selection of hickory-shafted clubs, including a brassie, spoon, jigger, mashie and niblick.

You’ll also get three balls pressed to replicate those used in the 1930s and some tips on how to swing your mashie. (The distance from the tips has been reduced to compensate for the vintage technology.)

Greens fees: $155. fairmont.com/banffsprings.

Deer Valley Golf Course, Lumsden, SK

Regina may be as flat as a pancake but just 20 minutes away the terrain changes dramatically in the Qu’Appelle Valley that runs halfway across the province. Carved by torrents of glacial melt waters, the Qu’Appelle River meanders across the valley floor flanked by high slopes covered with grasslands and deciduous and coniferous forests.

Deer Valley Golf Course takes advantage of the elevation and glorious scenery at every turn. The Globe & Mail rated number two as the fifth best golf hole in Canada. This par-three presents unforgettable vistas of valley dunes, stands of aspen and an endless prairie sky. The bargain green fees here and elsewhere in the province are yet another reason to beat a path to Saskatchewan.

Greens fees: $58. deervalleygolfestates.com.

Granite Hills, Lac du Bonnet, MB

Carved out of the rugged Canadian Shield (hence its name) and spectacular woodlands, Granite Hills, Manitoba’s newest course (opened in 2007), is a must-play. The golf scene in Manitoba is surprisingly good, undiscovered and very affordable.

Just down the road from the scenic town of Lac du Bonnet, this 7082-yard gem originally designed by Les Furber with four sets of tees, will challenge all levels of swingers. Lots of elevated tees provide sweeping vistas of five lakeside fairways lined with forests of birch, poplar and pine.

The fairway on the signature par-five third hole flirts with a lake on the left and doglegs to a green protected by an enormous bunker. Too long and you're swimming; too short and you're at the beach.

The back nine challenges with more views of Lac du Bonnet and dramatic granite outcroppings. Every fairway is unique so you never know what sort of challenge or creature awaits at the next tee. You might spot deer, fox and black bears so bring your camera.

Greens fees: $42. granitehills.ca.

The Ridge at Manitou, McKellar, ON

The Algonquin aboriginals believed that Manitou was a spirit that dominated the forces of nature. Certainly Canadian architect Thomas McBroom let those forces dictate his design at The Ridge at Manitou, near Parry Sound, Ontario.

The 6800-yard layout, named “Best New Golf Course in Canada for 2006” by Golf Digest, culminates with a dramatic par-five that doglegs left toward the shores of Lake Manitouwabing. “Holes twist and turn through the meadowland, streams and forest. The Canadian Shield outcroppings remind us that golf at its best is an experience in which you are integrated into the landscape,” says Mc Broom.

The Ridge’s Redwood and Greenwood cabins each accommodate up to eight golfers and have fully outfitted kitchens, satellite TVs and decks where you can brag about your birdies.

Greens fees: $135 for visitors; $115 resort guests. ridgeatmanitou.com.

Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu, La Malbaie, QC

Golfers have flocked to the rugged shores of Quebec’s Charlevoix region since the 1800s, when wealthy Americans steamered along the St. Lawrence River to the elegant Manoir Richelieu for the summer.

Today the baronial Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu Golf Club, set high on a cliff overlooking the St. Lawrence, boasts 27 rugged, roller-coaster fairways. Tee it up from the elevated tees on the newest nine, the Saint-Laurent, and let gravity do the work as your ball plummets down the steep fairway to a green jutting into La Malbaie.

Architect Darrell Huxham deserves raves not only for this giddying ride on the Saint-Laurent but also for his brilliant refurbishment of the existing tighter Richelieu and Tadoussac tracks where your aim will determine your score.

Greens fees: $129 for visitors; $115 resort guests. fairmont.com/richelieu.

Fairmont Algonquin, St. Andrews by-the-Sea, NB

Back in the1800s, the advertising slogan for St. Andrews-By-the-Sea, Canada’s first summertime seaside resort town, proclaimed, “No hay fever and a railroad.” The railway doesn’t stop here anymore, but something exhilarating about the briny air in this New Brunswick hamlet, plus the laid-back pace and the rhythm of the powerful tides, entices people to return summer after summer.

In 2000 Thomas McBroom, redesigned the18-hole, Fairmont Algonquin Golf Course. The par-72 layout meanders around Passamaquoddy Bay with a dynamic sequence of oceanfront holes (11, 12 and 13) known as Joe’s Corner. The signature number 12 is an elevated par-three playing down to a well-bunkered green jutting into the Bay.

No visit to St. Andrews would be complete without a stop at the neighboring Fairmont Algonquin Hotel, a fixture in town since 1889. The wraparound veranda of this red-roofed Tudor landmark is still an ideal spot for a cup of tea and a meander through the gardens after your round. Greens fees: $99. fairmont.com/algonquin.

Bell Bay Golf Club, Baddeck, Cape Breton, NS

Cape Breton’s Bell Bay Golf Club is named after the village’s most famous resident, Alexander Graham Bell. Both high and low handicappers love the generous fairways and meticulous manicuring here.

Thomas McBroom saved the most dramatic terrain for his final four holes. In his own immodest words, “They amount to what I believe is one of the best finishing sequences anywhere.” Number 15 is a demanding 470-yard par-four; 16 requires precision as it plays though a densely wooded fissure; 17 is an intimidating par-three across a ravine with a sloping green; 18, the signature hole, is a long par-five with a tee shot view of the village of Baddeck, the Great Bras d’Or Lake and Bell Bay where Alexander Graham Bell and his family lived.

Just down the hill, at the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site you can learn more about the man and his amazing inventions that include the telephone, man-carrying kites, a hydrofoil boat and his experimental airplane.

Greens fees: $79. bellbaygolfclub.com.

Andersons Creek Golf Club, Breadalbane, PEI

Last November, the International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO) named Prince Edward Island as the 2011 Undiscovered Golf Destination of the Year. So now it’s official, Canada’s tiniest province is a heck of a place to take a swing.

Near Cavendish, at the eastern end of PEI, Andersons Creek Golf Club, designed by Graham Cooke, has purportedly the best greens on the island. and plenty of water. The distinct feature of this Scottish-style track is the Creek itself that requires four crossings throughout your round.

You’ll cross hill and dale and thoroughly enjoy the variety of fairways and challenges right to the end. The 18th, called Barn Door, is a long uphill par-four with a well-bunkered green. Birdies are rare on the finishing hole but your mood will brighten at the clubhouse. To put you in an island mood, Andersons dishes out complimentary island-fresh steamed mussels. And in true Scottish tradition, you might even encounter a bagpiper on that 18th green.

Greens fees: $85. andersonscreek.com.

Terra Nova Resort, Port Blandford, NL

Terra Nova, dubbed the Pebble Beach of Newfoundland, is located in the National Park of the same name. Twin Rivers, the resort’s flagship course, awarded four and a half stars by Golf Digest magazine, opened as a nine-hole tract in 1984. The late Robbie Robinson designed it. In 1991, Doug Carrick was hired to create nine more holes running between dense forests, the Atlantic Ocean and two salmon rivers.

The first is a knockout — from elevated tees it doglegs right to a raised green with sparkling Bonavista Bay ahead of you. Most of the fairways are wide enough to accommodate the Titanic, tempting you to let it rip.

Perhaps what makes Terra Nova so special are the outstanding par-threes. Number eight, for example, requires crossing a raging river of white water to an elevated green protected by bunkers. Number 18, a downhill par three across a river to a postage-stamp green, leaves you feeling exhilarated and wanting more. And thanks to the second nine-hole Eagle Creek course and very attractive “stay and play” packages you can swing ’til your heart’s content.

Greens fees: $60. terranovagolf.com.

This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.

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