Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 October 2016 20:46 Tuesday, 11 October 2016 20:36
OWEN SOUND, Ontario (Gord Montgomery/iG) — If you think the driving in Ontario in the fall is spectacular given the rainbow collage of colours of the changing leaves ... you’ll find the chipping and putting isn’t too bad either. And with over 80 courses in the BruceGreySimcoe area alone, there’s lots to discover about your game and the beauty of the area.
In all, Canada’s largest province has an overwhelming number of golf courses to choose from to test your skills — over 800 — ranging from the small mom-and-pop 9-hole venues to private 18-hole assignments to a memorable and challenging 54-hole public track.
While it’s hard to get a feel for everything this great golfing market has to offer, Inside Golf took a swing at it. Over five days in early October they travelled through three tour-ism areas and drove hundreds of kilometres to offer you a smorgasbord of delicious tracks. Of the five courses played, four of them landed in the recent Top 100 in Canada. Following, to begin this journey, is the first of a three-part series detailing this golfing destination.
The BruceGreySimcoe Region
The first tee shot came at the spectacular Cobble Beach Golf Links, just minutes north of Owen Sound. Set hard on the eastern shore of Georgian Bay, a place often referred to as the “Sixth Great Lake,” this golf course and its waterbody backdrop are eye-candy.
The course opens its arms in a warm embrace to visitors on the front nine before suddenly squeezing them in a bear hug so tight on the inward nine you can hardly breathe.
“It is a little tighter on the back nine,” head pro Warren Thomas understated about his track that landed at No. 62 on Canada’s Top 100 courses. “It is a little easier at the start. You’re free and easy off the tee … then you get to the back nine,” where you find tee shots become tougher with narrower landing areas.
Then, to top all that off, there’s the putting surfaces that add to the challenge, the host pro added. “The greens are definitely the main characteristic here though. The chipping and the putting are the hard parts of Cobble.”
Playing to a far-reaching 7,179 from the tips this is a big course and since it’s playing at only 182m above sea level, for us Westerners that distance is magnified due the lack of altitude. If you aren’t up to that lengthy challenge, the other tees range from 5,100 to just under 6,700 yards. This layout has well defined fairways but be warned: they are littered with large, steep-faced bunkers to add even more adversity, and beauty, to this course.
In lending a word of advice — which maybe for me came too late — Thomas offers this wisdom, “I would say hit it a little closer than outside of 40 feet (to the pin). If you’re 40, 50 feet, you’re going to be 3-putting all day!” and even though the scenery is spectacular, 3-jacking a green is anything but.
The Par 5 16th Hole At The Cranberry Golf Course In Collingwood, ON., May Not Be Long On Distance But It Certainly Is In Challenge As It Is Well Protected By A Number Of Hazards.
Next on the tee was the Cranberry Golf Course set right in the community of Collingwood. While this track may look somewhat vanilla from the outset don’t let that appearance lull you into a false sense of security — this is a difficult challenge.
Playing to 6,600 yards off the back blocks one would think it would be easy to overpower the course but that’s far from true. The first three holes, all par 4s, remind you quickly of that as the shortest of them is 375 yards off the blue tees. Followed by holes of 410 and 408 yards there is nothing easy about the opening trio especially since trees creep in upon you as they guard the fairways and the rough is thick.
And to top that off, it doesn’t really get any easier from there on in.
There are a couple of memorable holes here, including the ninth, a 386 yard test that has a massive waste bunker stretching across the fairway that definitely comes into play on the tee shot. While a strong drive can carry you over that hazard, it’s likely a wiser decision to lay up in front and hit a longer iron or hybrid into the large green.
Another wonderful hole here is the 16th, a par 4/5 that plays to 431 yards but there is a very good reason for that rating — hazards. And more hazards. There is water. There is sand. There are trees. There is that rough. And top that all off with a green tucked behind a pond full of reeds, mayhem is never far away on this assignment. So all of a sudden, what appeared to be a God-send hole becomes a tougher than expected task.
So while this may not be the course one dreams of playing given its initial appearance it does wake you up in a hurry with its challenges.
For more on Cobble Beach, head to their website at cobblebeach.com and for Cranberry Golf Course at cranberrygolf.com.
About the Writer
Gord Montgomery is a retired sports editor of two weekly newspapers in the Edmonton area and is a member of the Golf Journalists Association of Canada. He is now in his eighth year of writing for Inside Golf. He can be reached at email@example.com. He’s also on Twitter at @gordinsidegolf.