HUNTSVILLE, ONTARIO — “A great golf course starts with a great piece of land,” says Thomas McBroom, co-designer of Deerhurst Highlands Golf Course. Using Muskoka’s granite rock faces, tree-topped hills, lakes and ponds, McBroom and his mentor, Bob Cupp, created not only a beautiful course but a very playable one too.
Their design caters to golfers of all levels with four tee lengths and multiple paths to the flagstick — a necessity on resort-style courses, says McBroom. Opened in 1990, this seminal Muskoka championship track, 225 kilometres north of Toronto, outside Huntsville, has held its ranking well at number 18 in Canada today, according to GolfWeek.com.
Our kilometre-long journey to the first tees starts with a reminder to watch out for deer crossing the cart path as it winds through towering maple, white birch and pine trees backlit by the sun. Across a narrow wooden bridge, spanning two signature pink and grey granite cliffs, sits an undulating practice green. A pair of wooden Muskoka chairs offers golfers privileged views of Peninsula Lake and an emerald fairway that drops out of sight. Pars and birdies are easy to come by on this relatively short hole.
On the second tee, however, reality sets in. Players face a daunting drive over a high ridge while trying to avoid the hazard on the left of this uphill par-4, the hardest hole on the course. A second shot — or more often a third — must hit the sweet spot of the three-tiered green to save par.
A short ride under the roadway transports golfers to a seemingly different golf course. Here, the forests, rocks and elevation changes turn into three flat, links-style holes set against the Deerhurst Canal, pock-marked with moguls and fairway bunkers. Back on the Canadian Shield, elevated tees over rocky ledges tempt players to hit from the blues to take full advantage of the heights. These distances, greater than they appear, wreak havoc on second shots.
A black pond far below the 10th tees reflects the sheer granite rock faces that frame the dramatic beauty of McBroom’s favourite hole.
Over at the 14th green, a blue heron eyes approach shots from the safety of the surrounding wetlands, while water in front of the final green further reinforces the value of laying up.
MORE ABOUT DEERHURST RESORT
Deerhurst Resort is possibly best known as being a site for the 2010 G8 Summit, where President Barack Obama, Prime Minster Stephen Harper and other dignitaries gathered for a one-day convention. The resort is one of Ontario’s finest, with amenities galore and numerous family entertainment options.
Location: 1235 Deerhurst Drive, Huntsville, Ontario
Reservations: 1-800-461-4393; nightly rates for a June weekend were found for as little as $159. Contact the resort for more information.
Contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Greens fees: From $100-$160 for a public player; resort guest, $85-$140.