Ontario Resort Golf’s Front Nine

Deerhurst Highlands Hole No. 10 (Image: Deerhurst Resort)

Deerhurst Highlands’ 10th hole is a monster par four, stretching 465 yards. (Image: Deerhurst Resort)

Taboo’s ruggedly gorgeous 7th. Cobble Beach’s magnificent 17th. A survey of acclaimed Ontario resort courses and the signature holes that helped make their reputations.

No. 10, Deerhurst Highlands Golf Course

World-famous as the site of the G8 summit in 2010, Huntsville’s Deerhurst Resort is also home to an acclaimed course whose opening in 1990 is credited with igniting Muskoka’s golf boom. The co-design by Tom McBroom and Robert Cupp rambles dramatically through forest and wetlands, and past immense Canadian Shield outcroppings. But the most thrilling—and daunting—hole of all at Deerhurst Highlands is the 465-yard par-four 10th, which launches from a three-storey granite slab and then bends to a well-guarded multi-tiered green. Take a bogey here and walk away happy.

No. 10, Monterra Golf Course

Aptly named Stage Fright, Monterra Golf Course’s 10th hole is every bit as thrilling as the most difficult ski runs at its Blue Mountain Resort home. The Tom McBroom-designed 134-yard par three plays over a yawning chasm to a long and thin green that slants downhill and sideways. Stiff breezes off Georgian Bay also frequently come into play. The 10th is just one of several memorable holes at the summertime showpiece of a Collingwood resort that includes restaurants, pubs, boutiques and more than 1,000 accommodation units.

Taboo Hole No. 7 (Image: Taboo Muskoka)

Rocky road: Taboo’s treacherously narrow par-three 7th.(Image: Taboo Muskoka)

No. 7, Taboo

In a rough and tumble setting that practically screams Muskoka, Taboo’s long par-three seventh hole has been chiseled through two immense walls of striated pink and grey Canadian Shield granite. Miss just slightly left or right and your ball skyrockets into orbit before losing itself in the wilds of this superb Ron Garl-designed course in the town of Gravenhurst. Wetlands, rock shelves and a forest of pine and balsam define a property that includes Taboo Muskoka, an upscale resort on the shore of Lake Muskoka.

No. 11, Windermere Golf and Country Club 

One of Muskoka’s most photographed signature holes is the 179-yard par-three 11th at Windermere Golf and Country Club, a classically designed layout by legendary Canadian golf architects George Cumming and Stanley Thompson. From a wildly elevated tee, golfers hit to a small and severely sloped green dwarfed by an immense wall of pink and grey granite. Nearby, on the banks of Lake Rosseau, is Windermere House, a Muskoka landmark that was devastated by fire in 1996 and subsequently rebuilt to its Victorian splendour.

No. 4, Smuggler’s Glen Golf Course

Golfers are entranced from the moment they hit their opening tee shot over a deep gorge at this wonderfully natural course at Gananoque’s Glen House Resort, in the heart of the Thousand Islands. Towering granite cliffs, pine-covered valleys and St. Lawrence River views provide almost nonstop thrills. Especially unforgettable is the 501-yard par-five fourth hole, featuring a creek that snakes in front of the green. Be sure to take an extra club on your approach—short is wet and dead.

Rocky Crest Golf Club Hole No. 7 (Image: Rocky Crest Golf Club)

Rocky Crest’s par-five 6th demands a long tee shot over a boulder-filled canyon. (Image: Rocky Crest Golf Club)

No. 6, Rocky Crest Golf Club

Architect Tom McBroom has perfected the robust design technique of using exposed Canadian Shield granite to give his course routings character and strategic nuance. At Rocky Crest Golf Club, in the district of West Parry Sound, McBroom did perhaps his finest work at the 569-yard par-five sixth hole. After a 180-yard tee shot over a boulder-filled canyon, two precision fairway shots are needed to reach a green tucked at the bottom of a craggy plateau. Opened in 2000, the course is the centerpiece of Rocky Crest Resort on Lake Joseph.

No. 16, Hockley Valley Golf Course

This heavily wooded Tom McBroom design at Hockley Valley Resort, a busy family-run retreat about a 20-minute drive north of the Toronto airport, includes dizzying shifts in elevation and confronts golfers with gnarly grass bunkers and fescue waste areas. But the most memorable hole is the 16th, a downhill 496-yard par five demanding a monster drive just to get within 200 yards of a small green perched on the edge of a ravine. If you’re even slightly out of position, the smart play is a lay-up.

No. 9, The Rock Golf Club

A thrilling conclusion to a front nine booby-trapped with natural hazards, The Rock Golf Club’s 640-yard par-five ninth hole challenges golfers to bite off as much ball-hungry marsh as they dare on their approach to a green sheltered by rock and forest. Designed to reward accuracy, the signature hole at this award-winning Muskoka course is a reflection of architect Sir Nick Faldo’s reputation as one of golf’s most skilled shotmakers. Completing the scene is The Rosseau, Canada’s first JW Marriott Resort and Spa, set high on a lakeside bluff.

No. 17, Cobble Beach Golf Links

Artfully sculpted to emulate the rugged hummocky terrain of Scotland’s great seaside courses, Owen Sound’s Cobble Beach Golf Links offers commanding views of Georgian Bay with almost every swing of the club. Architect Doug Carrick’s award-winning design, the heart of a master-planned golf resort and housing community, features several unforgettable holes, though none more gorgeous than the 17th. From an elevated tee affording a jaw-dropping view of the bay and a nearby lighthouse, golfers hit 156 yards to a tight and tiered green surrounded by pot bunkers. Sheer perfection.