Options for the budget-minded in Ontario

By July 20, 2010, 10:12 pm

 

St. Thomas Golf & Country Club
Ontario boasts a variety of first-class golf resorts.

As the PGA Tour RBC Canadian Open stops at St. George's Golf and Country Club, it's a perfect time to take a look at the one-of-a-kind golf courses in the province of Ontario.

Wouldn't you love a leisurely drive to a vacation destination offering great golf, fine food and comfortable accommodations? Look no further. That seemingly elusive destination is right here in Ontario.

Search the Web for 'golf in Ontario' or regional golf publications such as Ontario Golf News, Bay Area Golfing, or Tee To Green. Check the exchange rate ('Whoopee!), open the road atlas and plan your trip. (Most courses have their own Web sites, as well.)

 

For more Canada travel tips, course reviews and golf packages visit
Throw your clubs and luggage in the trunk, fill up the tank and away you go. If you're extra value-conscious, you might want to arm yourself with a discount coupon book, available at bookstores and golf shops throughout Ontario.

 

In addition to playing on some beautiful courses, you'll travel through some of the prettiest scenery in Ontario. Take, for example, the Huronia tourist region, whose southerly border begins just a few miles north of Toronto, up the multi-laned Highway 400.

Closely defined, Huronia is synonymous with Simcoe County; for ease of understanding, think of it as the area centered around Barrie and extending north to Midland, west to Collingwood, east to Orillia and south to Bradford.

The vast majority of Huronia's courses – mirroring the situation throughout Ontario – falls into the recreational and value-conscious categories. As a result, competition is fierce, resulting in great value for the average golf visitor. (All prices quoted are in Canadian dollars.)

'Recreational' and 'value conscious' should not be construed as demeaning. Rather, the majority of Huronia courses are interesting for golfers of all calibres; better, or more masochistic, players can get all the testing they want at most of these courses simply by stepping to the back tees. Just don't clog up the course; four hours or less is the norm around here.

A little south of Barrie, on Highway 89 about seven miles west of Highway 400 near Alliston, sits Nottawasaga Inn. The Valley course charges $44 while the longer and tougher Ridge 18 will set you back $69. The 575-acre property, recently named 'Best Family Resort in Ontario,' offers many recreational opportunities, including a sports dome and extensive children's activities. Nottawasaga also offers great packages. For example, for $240 per couple, you receive golf, accommodation, and country buffet breakfast.

North of Barrie a few minutes is scenic Horseshoe Resort with its 36 holes at the base of ski hills. About $200 per person gets you unlimited golf with cart, accommodation, breakfast, and dinner.

In the nearby Orillia area, tackle Hawk Ridge's 36 holes. After a (hopefully) successful outing at the world-class Casino Rama, try Lake St. George, a par-72, 6,300-yarder. Around Barrie, Simoro Golf Links is a fun outing and Midland's Brooklea Golf and Country Club offers an executive nine, a links-style nine and a parkland nine. These, like most courses in the region, have arranged attractive package rates with local motels. Another possibility is the venerable Midland G&CC, a tree-lined shotmaker's paradise dating back to 1919.

On the other side of Georgian Bay, in the Collingwood area, the semi-private Blue Mountain Golf and Country Club welcomes visitors. The Coney Island-like atmosphere of Wasaga Beach is home to a couple of passable public courses for those who want a break from beach, boats and bikinis.

All these Huronia courses are well under an hour's drive from Barrie and only a little farther from Toronto. Decent accommodation is inexpensive and plentiful. Various stay-and-play packages are available are available all over the province, but seem more plentiful north of the Greater Toronto Area.

Let's head south for a change. Not south south, but just half an hour south of Brantford where, for $114 per couple on weekdays, The Greens at Renton offers two greens fees, a cart and two dinners. Stop in at the Erie Beach Hotel in quaint Port Dover the next day for a feed of its renowned local perch on your way west.

West? Darn tootin', pardner. Some of the best courses in the province are located in the southwestern region stretching from London to Windsor.

How about a little warm-up at the Holiday Inn in Sarnia, with its onsite nine-hole executive course? For a stronger test, tour Huron Oaks GC where PGA Tour star Mike Weir honed his skills or the excellent St. Clair Parkway course in nearby Mooretown. It's a great layout with huge greens and is always in fine condition.

The town of Forest is a superb spot to set up camp for a couple of days. Renowned for the theatrical performances at its outdoor amphitheater, the area also boasts some fine golf. On top of your list should be Indian Hills GC, a tough but inexpensive 6,500-yard outing with weekday greens fees of $32.

For one-stop shopping, try the Forest Golf and Country Hotel with its 27 holes. Weekend package deals include unlimited golf, accommodations, and full use of the recreation center for $200 per couple. Arkona Fairways is always in great shape, and a treat for walkers with an average green fee under $30.

In the Chatham region, the Wheels Inn Resort is a good base from which to try city courses like Indian Creek or Country View. And everyone fortunate enough to play it says the historic Blenheim GC is one of the province's best-kept secrets. Others worth playing in this area include Ridgetown G&CC and Deer Run.

If you want to sample Windsor's gambling establishment, you will want to stay in the heart of the city, close to the major arteries that will whisk you away to some terrific golf.

There are some 20 courses in the metro area, but the pick of the litter has to be the city-owned Roseland Golf and Curling Club. Designed by famed architect Donald Ross, it is always in nice shape and provides a pleasurable challenge for golfers of all abilities. Located about half an hour from Windsor, the 27-hole Kingsville Golf and Curling Club is another gem.

Two others you must try are Fox Glen and Royal Estate GC in nearby McGregor. And before you head home, go to Canada's most southerly course, Erie Shores G&CC at Point Pelee.

There are, of course, hundreds more golf courses in Ontario, the vast majority of which are friendly, enjoyable and relatively inexpensive. Too often, it seems, golf vacationers focus only on the high-end destinations when their dollars could be more wisely spent. Uninformed opinions to the contrary, a golf vacation remains affordable to just about everyone, be they hardcore golfers, families, couples or seniors.

Why not break away from the pack and try some of these or, if you're so inclined, discover your own hidden gems? It's worth it, in so many ways.

Getty Images

What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

Getty Images

Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

Getty Images

Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

Getty Images

Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.