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|Rockway Vineyards was the first public courses built in the Kitchener-Waterloo region. (Courtesy of Rockway Vineyards G.C.)|
KITCHENER, Ontario, Canada -- The Kitchener-Waterloo area, located an hour's drive from Toronto, is a fusion of culture with a sundry of shopping, boutique cafes and restaurants.
Embedded in the twin cities' fabric is the Old Order Mennonite, a community of residents who eschew modern technology for the slower and simpler ways of the 19th century. Their well manicured farms are a testament to the beauty of the land.
This idyllic setting is reflected in the many fine public and private golf courses in the region.
World-renowned golf course architects have created some memorable courses; the likes of Stanley Thompson, C.E. Robertson and Thomas McBroom have encompassed this natural landscape into features that have made this area of southern Ontario one of Canada's most prominent golf destinations.
Here are some of the top golf courses in the Kitchener-Waterloo area:
Rockway Golf Course was the first public course built in the region (1935) and still maintains much of its old charm. Designed by Stanley Thompson, this tree-lined municipal course is located in the heart of Kitchener and has provided a scenic setting to hone one's game. Although not long at 5,500 yards, it's still a good test for every level of golfer.
Doon Valley Golf Club, another well maintained municipal golf course, is a fine example of a C.E. Robertson signature design. Scenic yet challenging, the course takes in the large natural wetlands of the Grand River to produce a layout that requires strategy and shot-making ability. Doon Valley provides four sets of tees can play up to 6,600 yards and will create a challenge round for everyone. There is also a nine-hole course at Doon Valley that is enjoyable by its length, scenery and grooming.
Another popular course is Foxwood Golf Club. Located in the scenic countryside near the town of Baden, it features modern practice facilities and 27 scenic holes, many of them tree lined with a myriad of more than 40 bunkers strategically placed to capture errant fairway shots or to protect the small and undulating greens.
Pike Lake Golf Club, another C.E. Robertson design, has recently undergone a modernization. Established in 1932, it is located minutes from the quaint towns of Mount Forest and Harrison. The course is very well groomed and with the prevailing winds from nearby Pike Lake, every hole can be a challenge even for the most experienced of golfers.
Whistle Bear Golf Club is not a Jack Nicklaus design, as one might assume. Completed in 2000, the name, as legend has it, was derived because of the habit of the local blacksmith to whistle as he walked the pathways to ward off any bears that might be in the area. This course, designed by Ontario architect John Robinson, assimilates 103 bunkers, thick fescue, rolling terrain and 10 holes that feature water hazards. Length and skillful shot making are a prerequisite for scoring well.
Deer Ridge Golf Club, located in Kitchener, is a Thomas McBroom masterpiece and considered one of the finer courses in the province. Measuring 7,215 yards from the back tees, the course is a pleasure to play and yet still very walkable. Standing on one of the many elevated tees you can see the risk/reward that presents itself on every shot. The natural rolling terrain of the Grand River Valley, 72 strategically placed bunkers and, as McBroom stated, "the best greens in southern Ontario."
Grey Silo Golf Club in Waterloo is the newest stop for the LPGA Tour -- the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic. This is a municipal course unlike many others, providing a rare opportunity to experience what the professionals feel in strategy and shot-making ability. Signature wide fairways, if you are hitting it straight, will always put you in good position off the tee. The test will come in one's second as fescue, water hazards and sand traps will capture any errant shot. If you can score well on the back-to-back par 5s on the front nine, you might be in line to feel like a pro when finishing your round.
September 17, 2013
Michael Cunningham lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. He has an extensive background in sports and media marketing, and is a former host for the syndicated GolfRadio show, which focused on the business of the game and unique travel destinations. Michael was editor and senior writer of two books: Spectacular Golf of Western Canada and Spectacular Golf Ontario. His work has appeared in Fairway Living Magazine, the Globe and Mail, National Post, Wineries Refined Magazine, Canadian Traveller, Ontario Golf Traveller and more.
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