As golf destinations go, Canada flies somewhat under the radar, yet for pure quality, scenery and value in a golf vacation, it's hard to beat. Whether your tastes run to the pine forests and craggy undulations of Eastern Canada or the aspens and Rocky Mountain grandeur of Western Canada, rest assured that memorability is guaranteed. Coast to coast, here are Canada's Top 15 Courses You Can Play.
The Ridge course at Predator Ridge is the true trophy track of B.C.'s Okanagan Valley, a six-year-old, 7,123-yard thrill ride from architect Doug Carrick that bursts with variety. Its topsy-turvy journey whisks you through wheatgrass meadows that resemble a links, but also through pine-infused ridges and valleys that are pure alpine, culminating in some of the firmest, fastest, most undulating greens this side of Oakland Hills. (6th hole pictured)
Award-winning Canadian architect Thomas McBroom sculpted Rocky Crest in May 2000 from the natural features of the Canadian Shield in Ontario’s Muskoka region. Golfers enjoy a 6,936-yard romp through thick stands of pine, hemlock and white birch at the north end of Lake Joseph, complete with yawning bunkers and granite outcroppings. (11th green pictured)
The devil is in the details at this 1998 Hurdzan/Fry design, among them red sand bunkers and well-guarded landing areas on a 7,056-yard, par-71 layout that places a premium on precision. Thick woods, sprawling sand features and a smattering of lakes and wetlands add further beauty and menace. Mike Weir captured the Telus World Skins Game here in 1999, downing Fred Couples, John Daly and David Duval.
Fairmont Chateau Whistler will never host a major, but it did host the 2010 Winter Olympics, with medal events on Blackcomb Mountain in its backyard. Equally thrilling is its Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed course, which comes with two signature par-3s in a three-hole sequence, the eighth and the 10th, both of which embrace the creeks, ponds, mountain vistas and exposed granite rock that characterize the course. (5th hole pictured)
One of western Canada's greatest courses is certainly one of the toughest. The vision of former NHL great Len Barrie, the narrow, Jack Nicklaus-designed Mountain feels like a hard cross-check into the boards from start to finish. Soaring elevations, dense forests, rock outcroppings and water hazards slashed throughout leads to Canada's highest slope, 152. Your consolation for lost balls is a series of vividly memorable holes. (15th hole pictured)
Your reward for a healthy trek into the interior of British Columbia, two hours west of Kelowna and the Okanagan Valley is this 2007 high-desert Thomas McBroom design that tumbles across fescue-lined bluffs overlooking Lake Kamloops. Deep gulches, sagebrush roughs, artfully etched bunkers and staggering mountain vistas make Tobiano worth the detour.
Situated a half-hour from the airport in Charlottetown, PEI’s ultimate trophy course is this rugged but handsome Thomas McBroom design that sports frightfully quick greens, water hazards galore, an array of strategic bunkering and glimpses of the coastal dunes along the island’s north shore. The accompanying Rodd Crowbush Golf & Beach Resort is the region's finest. (9th hole pictured)
This Doug Carrick/Ian Andrew creation opened to rave reviews in 2006. Ten years later, this 7,367-yard head-banger rocks you with pine-studded ridges and granite outcroppings. Heaving terrain affects every lie and stance, even on the greens, which ripple with hollows and ledges. Wetlands, beaver ponds and a set of beefy back-nine par-4s help form an ideal combination of beauty and brawn. (4th hole pictured)
Architect Doug Carrick infused this Atlantic island layout with sectionalized greens and risk/reward tests amid dense forests and heavily rolling terrain. Unforgettable is the par-4 10th, which plunges 180 feet from tee to fairway, a hole that also features long views of Deer Lake on the left and the Humber River in the distance. (back nine pictured)
Few courses in Canada have the must-play status of this 1976 Jack Nicklaus design that's played host to 27 Canadian Opens. The greenside amphitheaters that taught Pete Dye about Stadium Golf frame holes such as 11-15, the Valley holes, which are crisscrossed by Sixteen-Mile Creek, and the 18th, the watery par-5 where Tiger Woods famously clinched the 2000 Canadian Open. (11th hole pictured)
Beneath the castle-like Banff Springs hotel sits this 1928 Stanley Thompson design that's frequented by elk, bears and golfers seeking sensory overload. Mountain scenery simply overpowers the golfer, creating optical illusions throughout the round, notably at the 192-yard par-3 4th. Mounds and bunkers that mimic the jagged mountain shapes and several compelling holes that border the Bow and Spray Rivers are further highlights. (13th green and 14th fairway pictured)
"This is the Cypress Point of Canada for sheer beauty," said the late George Knudson, a Canadian who won nine times on the PGA Tour. While this remote 1939 Stanley Thompson product in Cape Breton Highlands National Park had fallen on hard times, architect Ian Andrew has recently helped with design restoration and conditioning issues -- all the better to mend a stunning, sprawling, forested layout within sight of the Atlantic Ocean. (15th hole pictured)
Not long by modern standards at 6,663 yards, especially given the 3,300-foot elevation, this 1925 Stanley Thompson design challenges and delights with an imaginative routing, enviable variety and waves of serpentine bunkers etched into the slopes and mounds. A trio of holes -- 14, 15 and 16 -- that skirt the clear green waters of Lac Beauvert and the sturdy par-4 18th, which races downhill through bunkers and pines, are among Canada's finest. (3rd hole pictured)
Developers Ben Cowan-Dewar and Mike Keiser teamed with architect Rod Whitman in 2011 to sculpt Canada's first links. Taking a rumpled tract of coastal terrain adjacent to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the team crafted a memorable collection of holes ranging from the par-4 sixth, which boomerangs around a fishing harbor, to the tiny par-3 14th that heads straight to the beach. The firm, fast fairways, rippled ground and endless sea views make it clear why Nova Scotia is the Latin name for "New Scotland." (16th hole pictured)
Cabot Cliffs towers more than 100 feet above the Gulf of St. Lawrence, reminiscent of Pebble Beach, yet it also features lower-lying holes in the beach-side dunes. Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw have yielded their usual strategy-laced artistry, via wide, yet cleverly bunkered fairways and 18 distinctive green complexes. Still, the eye candy dominates, notably over a closing stretch of holes that prompted Matt Kuchar to compare them to Cypress Point. (9th hole pictured)