Saturday, January 7th, 2012
When you think of cottage country in Manitoba, several key areas come to mind: the Whiteshell, the Interlake, along with western and southwestern Manitoba.
Not only are all these areas deep in breathtaking spots to enjoy cottage life, camp, swim, fish and hike, but they’ve also been blessed with something else outdoor lovers can enjoy— an abundance of great golf courses.
It seems no matter where you go, there’s a fine nine or 18 hole layout near you.
Fortunately, these golf courses are well distributed through the various areas. In the Whiteshell, avid and casual golfers have access to a troika of fine courses: Falcon Lake Golf Courses, Pinawa Golf Club and Granite Hills Golf Club.
On the way out to the cabin at Falcon, you can also play Fantasy Lake Golf Club or take a detour on Highway 12 to Steinbach to play either the Steinbach Fly-in Golf Club, The Links at Quarry Oaks, Girouxsalem Golf & Country Club or Ridgewood South. And not to be forgotten is Lake of the Sandhills Golf Club further down Highway 12 near the Canada US border and Warroad Estates Golf Club.
But we digress. If you have cottage in the Falcon Lake or Lac du Bonnet area, or you simply want to take a week-long tour of the Whiteshell’s finest links, it’s difficult to beat the quality and beauty offered up by Falcon Lake, Pinawa and Granite Hills, the newest course in the region.
The great thing about all three courses is that they’re all a two hour drive or less from Winnipeg, yet they’ve been carved out of pure wilderness. Unlike many city-area courses, virtually all the fairways are separated by thick stand of trees that not only gobble up wayward shots, but make you feel as if you’re in a world of your own.
At 6,922 yards from the tips and a respectable 6, 429 yards from the regular trees, Falcon Lake is a great mix of beauty and challenge. From the back tees, advanced players get all they can handle in the form of Falcon’s long par-threes and par-fours, with the 600 yard plus, par-five 13th thrown in for good measure.
Next is Pinawa, a ruggedly beautiful and deceptively difficult 18-hole layout in the Lac du Bonnet area. Essentially, Pinawa is Granite Hills without the spectacular lake vistas.
Granite Hills, the Whiteshell’s newest course, is also a treat to play for those who have cottage in the Lac du Bonnet area. At over 7,000 yards from the back tees or 6,088 from the forward markers, it is a course that requires equal parts brain and brawn to negotiate successfully, with its hilly fairways, five lakeside holes and elevated lake country vistas.
Meanwhile, the Interlake has no shortage of excellent cottage country courses, either. It features a lineup of courses that rivals those found in the Whiteshell: Grand Pines, Golf Course in Traverse Bay, Links at the Lake near Gimli, and, of course, Hecla Golf Course. Throw in courses like Teulon Golf & Country Club, Sandy Hook Golf Club and Northernaire and it’s understandable that cottages who happen to be avid golfers love waking up early to play golf in the Interlake.
Grand Pines winds through pristine stands of pines and other mature trees. Links at the Lake offers well-placed water hazards and tricky greens, and Hecla is one of the top rated courses in Canada, with its abundant stands of ancient trees, lush fairways, water views and scoreable layout.
More great golf waits if you travel west, such as Clear Lake Golf Course and Neepawa Golf & Country Club, a pair of courses, though not overly long, that offer a challenge in their fast, sloping greens and elevated tee shots.