Crimson Ridge Set for a Return to the Sun

Applauded as one of Canada’s most beautiful courses when it opened in 2002, Crimson Ridge Golf Course in Sault Ste. Marie is overdue for a return to the national spotlight.

(Last updated February 2020.)

A golf hole so visually stunning or in some other way exceptional that it captures national attention is a rare occurrence. So there was understandable excitement back in 2002 when the unveiling of the $5.5-million Crimson Ridge Golf Course in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, revealed not just one, but two potential Canadian signature holes.

Cut through rough and tumble terrain typical of Northern Ontario, Crimson Ridge includes mature forests, natural waterfalls and numerous elevation changes.

Crimson Ridge Golf Course, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario

The par-three 17th at Crimson Ridge Golf Course. (Image: Crimson Ridge)

But it’s the combination punch of the two finishing holes that really wows golfers. The par-three 17th hole leaps across a steep ravine and past an 18-metre waterfall to a green dwarfed by an enormous granite outcropping. And the par-five 18th hole, a 577-yard dogleg left, offers golfers a breathtaking view from the elevated tee of the Sault’s downtown, the North Channel and northern Michigan in the distance.

Designed by local son Kevin Holmes, Crimson Ridge numbers among Canada’s most beautiful courses. “I was in a pickle,” the Toronto-based golf architect jokingly told SooToday News when the course opened. “I have a lot of friends and family here. It was going to have to be spectacular, or I was going to hear about it for the rest of my life.”

If it were located in Toronto, Vancouver or Calgary, golfers would be lining up to play it. But hidden away as it is in Northern Ontario, Crimson Ridge has slowly faded from national attention.

Here’s hoping more golfers, especially those travelling cross-country on the Trans-Canada Highway (the city is set right on the Highway, where Lake Huron and Lake Superior almost touch), will stop into the city of 73,000 for a look at Crimson Ridge and the city’s other golf courses and attractions.

Silver Creek Golf Course, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario

Hills ablaze with autumnal colours at Silver Creek Golf Course, just east of Sault Ste. Marie. (Image: Silver Creek)

Tourist highlights include the Canadian Bush Plane Heritage Centre, the St. Marys River boardwalk, the OLG Casino, the Art Gallery of Algoma, and nearby Pancake Bay Provincial Park.

Golfers, in particular, might want to stay a while. In addition to Crimson Ridge, the Soo, as locals call their city, offers two other strong courses. Silver Creek Golf Course, a demanding Arthur Hills-Steve Forrest and Associates design, is artfully carved through a forest of hardwoods and conifers on land owned by the Garden River First Nation, just east of the city. And close to downtown, Sault Ste. Marie Golf Club is a classic Stanley Thompson-George Cumming parkland design dating from 1919.

But the must-play showpiece is Crimson Ridge.