The Love of Golf Runs Deep in Canada
By Adam Stanley
KPMG Women’s PGA Championship winner, Brooke Henderson of Canada poses with the trophy at the 2016 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at the Sahalee Country Club on June 12, 2016 in Sammamish, Washington. (Photo by Montana Pritchard/The PGA of America)
2016 KPMG Women’s PGA Champion Brooke Henderson is from a small town about an hour outside of Canada’s capital, Ottawa. This week’s CP Women’s Open – which Henderson won in 2018 – is back in Ottawa and Henderson is not only the favorite, but she’s also playing the role of host for the week.
With Canada’s limited golf season in full swing, those who tee it up across the country are trying to take advantage of the last sprint through the end of summer.
Canada is the second-largest country on earth by land mass, so it comes as no surprise that there are a ton of golf courses – and good ones, at that. Not only that, but golf is Canada’s most-participated-in sport, with more than 5.6-million Canadians considering themselves ‘golfers.’
There’s no doubt that many of the younger golfers just picking up the game have been inspired by Henderson, who, thanks to her victory this summer at the Amundi Evian Championship, became the first Canadian to capture multiple major titles.
But the good news for all those Canadian youngsters – and life-long golfers, and even those who are considering Canada as a fun destination for your next golf trip – is that coast-to-coast Canada has plenty of great golfing options.
Here are a few of the best public facilities across the country:
Cabot Cape Breton
As soon as Cabot Links opened about 10 years ago, Canadian golf would never be the same again. Links was followed by Cliffs about a half-decade later, and Cabot Cliffs has been ranked as the top course in the country every year since its inception (along with being a mainstay on many of the top-courses-in-the-world lists, too). The ‘Cabot’ brand has expanded to Florida, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, and into western Canada too – with no signs of slowing down.
Cabot Links and Cabot Cliffs were complimented by The Nest, a 9-hole short course, and it’s quickly become one of the best golfing destinations – despite it’s off-the-beaten-track location – in the world.
The Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu boasts one of the best first-tee locations in the whole country, with the dramatic downhill opener showing show-stopping views of the St. Lawrence River as the backdrop. The now 27-hole course showcases the natural beauty of the Charlevoix (Quebec) region.
Likely the top public facility in the Ottawa area – just 20 minutes from the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club, where this year’s CP Women’s Open will take place – The Marshes has hosted a handful of Golf Canada’s top amateur events. It was the final collaboration between Robert Trent Jones Jr. and Sr. The course meanders through natural wetlands, meadows, and forests while also being a strategically outstanding golf course.
TPC TORONTO AT OSPREY VALLEY
The top 54-hole facility in the country, TPC Toronto at Osprey Valley – about 30 minutes from Toronto’s airport – is a golf lover’s paradise. Each of the three 18-hole layouts (North, Hoot, and Heathlands) are different in their design but all lean into the tumbling hills and gorgeous topography of the northern Greater Toronto Area. No matter if you’re interested in a parkland layout, a strategic wasteland layout, or a classic links-style layout, TPC Toronto has a bit of everything.
The unique thing about golf in Canada is that there is no shortage of options – whether you’re into ocean golf, parkland golf, city golf, or, in the case of Banff Springs, mountain golf, the country has it all. The Fairmont Banff Springs (and the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, about three hours north) is a perfect example of rocky mountain golf. The par-3 4th ‘Devils Cauldron’ is one of the finest par threes in the world, while the entire course, laid out by iconic designer Stanley Thompson, is an idyllic – albeit distracting! – rip around the mountains.
We’ve made it from coast-to-cast. While Cabot has Instagram-worthy views of the Atlantic Ocean, Bear Mountain is all the way on the other side of the country on Vancouver Island. From its two courses – the Mountain Course and the Valley Course – you’ll have views of the Pacific Ocean, plus the mountains as you traverse through mature forest. It’s a thrill for senses, playing golf there (about 25 minutes from downtown Victoria, British Columbia), and the two Jack Nicklaus-designed courses are equally challenging and beautiful.