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bigwin island golf club

9 Must-Play Golf Courses

Tee off at the signature holes—and courses—of Canada’s hottest golf destination.
By Brian Kendall

Muskoka Bay Golf Club

GOOD TO GO Stunningly beautiful, but not crazily long
or difficult, Muskoka Bay Golf Club’s 441-yard first hole—launched from a rocky perch high above the fairway—is an ideal opener.

CANADIAN CLASSIC Affording panoramic vistas of the surrounding Lake of Bays, the par-four sixth at Bigwin Island Golf Club is renowned as one of Canada’s most scenic holes.

ROCKY RIDE The par-three seventh at Taboo Golf Course is chiseled through a long and craggy chute of striated pink and grey granite. Miss left or right and your ball bounces into orbit.

INTO THE ABYSS From the dizzying heights of the eighth tee at Lake Joseph Club, golfers must hit a precision iron shot to a valley green dwarfed by a giant wall of pink granite.

NINE TO GO A thrilling conclusion to a roller-coaster-ride front nine, The Rock Golf Club’s dogleg par-five ninth challenges golfers to bite off  they dare.

Deerhurst Highlands

DOGLEG RIGHT Muskoka’s golf boom began with the 1990 opening of Deerhurst Highlands Golf Course, where the par-four 10th launches from a towering granite-slab tee box before twisting right toward a multi-tiered green.

BOGEY HOLE Perhaps Muskoka’s most feared hole is the 16th at South Muskoka Curling and Golf Club, a par four demanding a pinpoint approach over a ball-hungry gully to an undulating green.

HERCULEAN EFFORT High-handicappers beware: the carry over bedrock and water from the back tees at North Granite Ridge Golf Club’s par-five 17th hole is a knee-buckling 220 yards.

GRAND FINALE With a green at the par-five 18th that appears suspended like an emerald infinity pool above Manitouwabing Lake, The Ridge at Manitou Golf Club offers a magical ending to every round.

Weekend Roundup, May 22 to 24

There’s never a dull moment in Muskoka!

Friday, May 22

Fete the human form at Bracebridge’s Chapel Gallery by viewing A Body of Work, an exhibition of figurative sketches and paintings by members of Muskoka Arts and Crafts.

Escape to Bigwin Island Golf Club for a truly intimate day on the links—the course is accessible only by ferry, boat or float plane.

Saturday, May 23

Enjoy a morning of fresh produce and live local music at the Bracebridge Farmers Market, one of Muskoka’s oldest operating markets.

Experience the bluesy sound of singer-songwriter and guitarist Albert Cummings at Peter’s Place.

Sunday, May 24

Revitalize your senses with an aroma stone facial and wildflower footbath inspired by the natural surroundings at luxurious Spa at the Rosseau.

Gaze across Muskoka Bay while dining on a variety of fresh fish plus certified Angus beef steaks at Regatta Steak and Seafood.

10 Must-Play Golf Courses in Muskoka

10 MUST-PLAY GOLF COURSES

Hit the links at one of Canada’s hottest destinations. 

Prototype Course In 1990, Muskoka’s golf boom began with the launch of Deerhurst Highlands Golf Course, a superb Tom McBroom–Robert Cupp co-design at Huntsville’s Deerhurst Resort.

Par Three to Remember From the wildly elevated eighth tee at Lake Joseph Club near Port Carling, golfers hit to a valley green dwarfed by a giant striated wall of pink granite.

Celebrity Endorsed The official home course of 2003 Masters champion Mike Weir, Gravenhurst’s Taboo Golf Course offers a roller-coaster ride through wetlands, rock shelves and a forest of birch, pine and balsam.

Blindingly Beautiful The Mark O’Meara Course at Huntsville’s Grandview Golf Club frequently forces golfers to blast blind shots over menacing rock faces. Daunting at first, the gorgeous forest layout grows friendlier with each playing.

Memories of Scotland Muskoka Highlands Golf Course, an appealing Scottish links-style layout in Bracebridge, meanders over 150 rolling acres on a routing that forces golfers to whack tee shots into the wind.

Fantasy Island Elevated tees—notably at the sixth and 18th holes—present glorious vistas of the surrounding Lake of Bays at Bigwin Island Golf Club, a design by Doug Carrick that numbers among Canada’s most picturesque courses.

Bogey Hole Perhaps Muskoka’s most feared hole is the 16th at Bracebridge’s recently restored South Muskoka Curling and Golf Club. The par four features a long approach over a ball-hungry gully to an undulating green.

Most Anticipated Re-Launch Closed last season for the refinement of several holes, The Rock Golf Club, an award-winning Nick Faldo design in Minett, is a tight and twisting layout that demands precision.

Golden Oldie An older, classically designed course not to be missed is Huntsville Downs Golf and Country Club. A local favourite since 1925, the tract was carved through dense forest and Canadian Shield granite.

Best Bargain North Granite Ridge, midway between Huntsville and Bracebridge, offers many of the thrills, challenges and rugged scenery of Muskoka’s best-known courses at about half the cost.

Tip! In Muskoka, green fees have climbed as steeply as the popularity of its golf courses. Many clubs offer twilight fees that allow you to play at a discount late in the day.

Brian Kendall is the author of Northern Links: Canada From Tee to Tee.

—Brian Kendall