10 golf courses in Ontario you need to play at least once
Golf courses in Ontario might not have a reputation like St. Andrews, Pebble Beach of some of the other globally famous ones, but when it comes to memorable experiences many are certainly worthy for a bucket list.
From courses designed by Jack Nicklaus to those that have stood the time for the past century or more, these Ontario golf courses still hold up among the finest in Canada.
Here's some golf courses in Ontario you need to play at least once.
If you want to play where the pros do, this Toronto golf course has hosted the Canadian Open five times and is set to host it again in 2022. St. George's has been around for more than 90-years and was designed by renowned golf course architect Stanley Thompson in the early 1900’s.
The course has not only stood the test of time but is widely regarded as outstanding. With tight twisting fairways and a rolling landscape, it's ranked as one of the world’s finest courses.
This course is guaranteed to challenge even the most proficient golfer out there but because it's a member exclusive course only a privileged few will get the chance to tee off here.
This Woodbridge course frequently makes the top of Canada's golf course list. SCOREgolf named it number 1 in 2014, and Golf Digest listed it as 66th in the world. It's also known for being one of the toughest courses in the world.
In fact, when it was designed by 1946 Canadian Open winner George Fazio and nephew Tom Fazio that was the goal. Anyone who has played this course will know how demanding it is and how strategically you need to play. It's for "serious" golfers.
But if you're a woman who is a serious golfer the only chance you have of playing this course is if you're invited by a male member. The National is still a men's-only golf club despite public scrutiny and pressure to let women join.
Hamilton, or Ancaster as it's known among locals, sits on a dramatic part of the Niagara Escarpment and is a classic parkland design.
The course has hosted several Canadian Opens and is undergoing renovations for the 2024 Canadian Open. Currently, it's ranked the second best course in Ontario and eighth in Canada.
Hamilton features narrow fairways, a mix of demanding and breather holes, and most notably steep hills – so much so that on the 18th there's a rope tow to get you back up to the club house!
Founded in 1876, The Toronto Golf Club in Mississauga is one of the oldest courses in North America.
The course was designed by the well-known English golf course architect Harry Colt and it was Canada's first championship course by which all future Canadian golf courses were measured.
While not as challenging as other courses like The National or St. George's, the natural terrain and undulations makes for an interesting and strategic play.
The clubhouse is quaint and charming with an old world feel that you won't find many places anymore. All in all Toronto Golf Club is a charming private course that's definitely worth playing at if you get the chance.
Fun fact, Trivial Pursuit inventors Chris Hanney and Scott Abbot are behind this course in Caledon. According to their website, Paintbrush is a "contemporary take on the classic Scottish linksland gem."
The course features hummocks and hallows, fescue fairways, blind shots, pot bunkers and more. It's rugged, unpredictable and fun – there's even an old ruin of a stonewalled barn on the 8th hole, which makes that Scotland-vibe come to life. You'll feel like you're at St. Andrews … minus the ocean views.
Nestled in a gated community in Aurora, this unique golf course is consistently ranked among the best Canadian courses. It's picturesque and has two distinctly different groups of nine holes.
Beacon Hall's front nine opens through a gorgeous pine tree lined fairway, giving it the feel of a course in Carolina or Georgia. Meanwhile, the back nine is similar to courses you'd find in Scotland.
However, the main draw to this course is the very limited membership. There are currently less than 250 members, so getting a tee time is never a problem.
While most courses are best played in the summer, Muskoka Bay might be the exception. Located in the rugged landscape of the Muskoka Lake District, this course becomes a masterpiece in the fall.
Designed by renowned architect Doug Carrick, this golf course boasts dramatic elevation changes, large rock ridges thanks to the Canadian Shield, and serene vistas.
And unlike most of the courses on this list, Muskoka Bay is a semi-private course so you don't need to be invited to play.
Westmount is another Stanley Thompson masterpiece located in Kitchener. It's a true old-school parkland course with fairways framed by towering maple and pine trees. It's also old-school on the tee box where there aren't your usual "options" of play.
Players have noted the course has fast greens, hanging shots and sloping fairways, which all make for a challenging game. Not to mention, the club's website guarantees "you will almost never hit from a flat lie", so strike well.
And if you like to walk instead of taking a cart this is the course to do it. Visitors and members alike all say it's a great course for walking with excellent routing from one hole to the next.
Known as Canada’s most exclusive course, Redtail in Port Stanley is one of those courses everyone wants to play but almost no one has, and it's not only because it’s very tricky to find.
The course and club gained notoriety when Queen Elizabeth II stayed in one of the cottages on the property during a visit to Canada. Since then celebrities and sports stars like Sean Connery, Wayne Gretzky, Mike Weir and many others have graced the greens.
And despite the club opening up for the 2005 Ontario Amateur tournament, this golf course has remained strictly for the 100 odd members and their guests.
But if you do happen to be lucky enough to be a guest, online reviews claim the Donald Steel designed course provides a first-class experience with putting greens as smooth as a "snooker table" and narrow, rolling fairways that demand accuracy.
Glen Abbey in Oakville is one of Canada's most famous golf courses, designed by legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus. It was actually the first course he designed on his own.
And even non-golf fans might recognize this course thanks to the famous shot Tiger Woods made on the 18th hole in the final round of the 2000 Canadian Open. The shot is widely regarded as one of the most spectacular shots in both of Woods' career and in recent PGA Tour history.
Glen Abbey has hosted the Canadian Open 30 times and is considered one of the best public courses in the country.
If that doesn't make it worthy of this list than the distinct "valley holes" on the back nine, which bring drama to the course, are deserving of the hype. Especially on the 11th hole where players tee off on a cliff that drops 75-feet to the fairway below.
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