Muskoka’s New Signature Hole, Remembering Moe Norman, and Vietnam’s Golf Boom


15th Hole at Oak Bay Golf Club, Port Severn, Ontario

15th Hole at Muskoka’s Oak Bay Golf and Country Club

Muskoka, a rocky, lake-filled tourist district a two-hour drive north of Toronto, has long been one of Canada’s top golf destinations. Muskoka Bay Club, Bigwin Island, Taboo and Deerhurst Highlands are all highly rated tracks. Recently, I had the opportunity to play the newest addition to the roster, Oak Bay Golf and Country Club, a 6,503-yard Shawn Watters design unveiled last season in the town of Port Severn. It’s another beauty, but what’s most striking at Oak Bay is the 170-yard 15th hole, a par three destined to become one of Canada’s signature holes. The tee shot plays into the prevailing wind over wetlands to an elevated two-tiered green perched atop a massive outcropping of Canadian Shield granite. Seen shimmering through the trees far to the left is an inlet of Georgian Bay, while another inlet laps the shore to the rear of the tee box. It’s a tranquil and spectacularly beautiful Group of Seven setting that could only exist in Canada….

I finally found the time to read Lorne Rubenstein’s latest book, Moe and Me (ECW Press), a heartfelt account of Rubenstein’s friendship with the late, great Moe Norman. I’ve also heard talk of a film adaptation of Moe’s strange and wonderful life based on The Feeling of Greatness (Master Press) by another Canadian author, Tim O’Connor. Both titles belong on the bookshelf of every Canadian golfer….

With the construction of new courses having ground almost to a halt across North America, it’s reassuring to learn that, somewhere, the game is booming. In Vietnam, three golf greats of the modern era, Colin Montgomerie, Greg Norman and Sir Nick Faldo, have built courses and are teaming up to promote Vietnam’s Central Coast golf product. Montgomerie Links has been named Vietnam’s best course the past two years. Right next door is Danang Golf Club’s Dunes course, designed by Norman. And scheduled to open in September, just north of Danang, is the Faldo-designed Laguna Lang Co Golf Club….

And, finally, I’m getting the clubs cleaned and my swing grooved for an upcoming trip to beautiful British Columbia. I’ll be golfing in Whistler, the Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island. Who knows? There might even be time for a little salmon fishing. I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, play well!