GRAVENHURST, Ontario, Canada -- It's the gorgeous lakes that have attracted vacationers for decades to the Muskoka region roughly two hours north of Toronto.
In the past decade, though, it's the addition of lush golf courses cut from the Muskoka rock that mesmerizes golfers.
Rocky Crest Golf Club, built in 2000, and Taboo Golf Club, designed by Ron Garl in 2002, kicked off a building boom that added to the iconic Highlands Course at Deerhurst Resort, built by Robert Cupp and Thomas McBroom in 1990, and the classic Windermere Golf & Country Club dating to 1919.
Nick Faldo designed The Rock Golf Club in tiny Minett in 2004 before returning in 2007 to make it more playable. The Muskoka Bay Club by Canadian Doug Carrick -- one of the top 10 golf courses in Canada by ScoreGolf -- followed in 2007.
Shawn Watters transformed the nine-hole Sunnylea Golf Course into the beautiful -- and tough -- Oak Bay Golf & Country Club in 2011. Carrick's Bigwin Island Golf Club opened in 2002 on the site of an old Stanley Thompson course on an 800-acre island in the middle of the Lake of Bays. It takes a five-minute boat ride to reach the club, which only offers public play in spring and fall.
The 6,252-yard North Granite Ridge Golf Club, the 6,024-yard Muskoka Highlands Golf Links, the 27-hole Lake St. George Golf Club, the 6,566-yard Huntsville Downs Golf & Country Club and the nine-hole Diamond In The Ruff are worth a look as well. Another Canadian top-100 course, The Ridge at Manitou Golf Club, on the shore of Lake Manitouwabing near McKellar, and the fine Seguin Valley Golf Club lie west of Huntsville.
Yep, there are plenty of reasons to stay off the water and enjoy dry land in Muskoka.