“Two courses appeared in a yellow wood, and I…I chose the course less travelled by. And that has made all the difference.”
Hmm. If Robert Frost had been a better golfer (allegedly, his swing wasn’t exactly poetry in motion), perhaps his famous poem, The Road Not Taken, may have gone something like that. But you need not be a poet—nor a great golfer—to appreciate an awesome, under-the-radar golf course. Unsurprisingly, Western Canada is full of them.
From the wave-smashed shores of Vancouver Island to Manitoba’s rocky shield, Western Canada is home to nearly 1,000 places to play. While there are many hyped hacker hot spots, more discerning golfers have come to realize that digging a little deeper can uncover the real gold. In other words, take the road less travelled and you may reap a big reward—and often at half the price! Here are a handful of less-frequented courses to get you started on a western golf journey.
Situated 2.5 hours northeast of Saskatoon, where the hot-yellow canola fields meet the northern forests, the riverside town of Nipawin radiates quaint charm—and a truly stunning golf course. Designed by prolific Alberta-based architect Les Furber, Evergreen presents as a peaceful parkland challenge that’s not unlike Canada’s best cottage-country courses. Nearly every hole is lined with towering pines, while bone-white silica sand bunkers protect the gorgeous, undulating greens.
“Evergreen is consistently recognized as one of Saskatchewan’s hidden gems,” says Scott Allan, owner and publisher of saskgolfer.com. “Although the course has been hosting one of Saskatchewan’s top tournaments for years—the Scotia Wealth Management Open—it’s still relatively unknown in Western Canada. It shouldn’t be. I think its fairly remote location in northern Saskatchewan has kept it somewhat under the radar.”
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Turf conditions are always outstanding. And thanks to a 600-yard opening par-5 that rifles through the woods, you’ll realize very quickly that Evergreen is not to be taken lightly. All facets of your game will be tested here!
Golden, British Columbia
Every day during summer, thousands of cars take the road most travelled (Highway 1) to cruise through Golden, B.C. But far fewer road-trippers pull into town, cross the Columbia River over a narrow one-way bridge, and peg it up at the Golden Golf Club. It is, without a doubt, one of the great community courses in Canada. The club slogan—“We are a small town club with big time golf”—is spot on.
With no ho-hum holes and at least half-a-dozen humdingers, a round of golf in Golden is always filled with drama, especially if you play in June during peak spring run-off! Beautiful mountain views, great gambling par-5s (notably the downhill 12th), sweet doglegs, creekside holes and wonderful green complexes add to the experience.
“About the only two things Golden doesn’t have is a massive clubhouse and stuffy atmosphere,” says Scott Allan, who worked at the club in the late ’90s and has played it hundreds of times. “The layout is super fun, there’s a great driving range, excellent RV park, good food in the clubhouse, spacious
outdoor patio, friendly people and great value. It just ticks all the boxes.”
Lac du Bonnet, Manitoba
Parading along the pretty shore of Lake Lac Du Bonnet in the heart of the Canadian Shield, the Granite Hills Golf Club might be the best course in Canada that’s, well, in the middle of nowhere. (From Winnipeg, it’s an hour-and-a-half drive northeast, so it’s certainly doable as a day trip.)
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With several elevation changes, stunning rock outcroppings and six holes to play along the lake, there’s plenty of beauty and drama to fill a day on the course. The finishing run, which is capped by an awesome par-4 that careens along the water, is a fitting conclusion to what is easily one of the most memorable courses in Manitoba.
Considering it opened in 2007—and has been praised by multitudes of Manitoba golfers—Granite Hills is hardly a secret. But it certainly requires taking the road less travelled. “It’s a bit of a drive to get up there,” says Jared Ladobruk, executive director of Golf Manitoba. “But you will be rewarded. Manitoba has many great lakeside courses, and Granite Hills is certainly one of the best.” The par-5 third has water all the way down its left side, reminiscent of Pebble Beach’s famed 18th hole.
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