Muskoka’s best golf courses offer stunning scenery, challenging terrain, and the opportunity to make cottage-country memories that will last a lifetime.
BY IAN CRUICKSHANK
I remember the moment exactly. It was 2:27 p.m. on a bleak February afternoon. I was being pinched by deadlines, outside the snow was piling up faster than the provincial debt and I was already late for a meeting on the other side of the city. I was about to curl up in the fetal position and slide permanently under my desk, when I spied a photo pinned on my bulletin board next to the computer.
It was a shot taken last summer at the first tee at the Lake Joseph Club. Three pals and I are looking down the valley, smiling, almost giggling, like we’d just gobbled down too much cake and ice cream. It was no special occasion—just summer up north by the lake, about to tee off on one of our favourite courses. At that moment I realized that I could get through the snow, the darkness and the deadlines as long as I knew Muskoka golf was on the horizon.
RELATED: Check out more of Muskoka’s best golf courses in our comprehensive guide.
When ClubLink unveiled the Lake Joseph Club in 1997, it changed the landscape of cottage golf forever. Designed by Toronto’s Thomas McBroom, “Lake Joe” was the first course to combine a country club level of service with the stunning local topography. McBroom routed his rolling layout above the broad banks of Lake Joseph, notching the greens into the hillsides and accenting the tree-lined fairways with flashes of granite.
McBroom is also behind the aptly named Rocky Crest Golf Club in Mactier, a course that incorporates the best of Muskoka, highlighting the landscape’s rocky underpinnings. At the sixth hole, a long par five, he peeled back a layer of scrub and dirt to reveal an intimidating granite canyon.
The Grandview Golf Club in Huntsville is a bold enterprise that winds past creeks, beaver ponds, and bungalow-sized rocks and into the heart of the forest. What ultimately makes Grandview unique is its dual nature—you can play it brawny or brainy.
The Rock has a definite edge, just like its designer, six-time major winner Nick Faldo. The first half-dozen holes push through the woods and around the slabs of granite. Later in the round, the course opens up with some spectacular rocky vistas.
Muskoka Bay Club boasts one of the prettiest layouts in the country. The Doug Carrick-designed course free falls from rocky topped tees through heavily treed valleys, then rises to elevated greens that slope away to sand.
Ian Cruickshank is a golf and travel writer who has written about the game for the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, Golf Digest and Maclean’s magazine.