Challenging and scenic public golf courses in Ontario
If your golf game is now closer to par than putt-putt, these Ontario golf courses are a fun challenge, and a chance to level up.
The Club at Bond Head is located west of Highway 400, a few kilometres north of Aurora, Ontario. While most ClubLink courses are private, The Club at Bond Head is one of a few open to daily fee golf. It offers the ultimate golf experience with two magnificent courses designed by the renowned Hurdzan-Fry firm. The links-style South Course features wide fairways, gaping bunkers, and fescue roughs. The parkland-style North Course features dramatic elevation changes, spectacular vistas, and small, contoured greens.
This rugged scenery adds to the challenge of completing this track. Constant changes in elevation can make it difficult to pull the right club out of your bag the first time around, but part of the fun is going back for a second round after scouting out the landscape.
Location: Bond Head
Located just north of Toronto, Lionhead Golf & Conference Centre offers scenic views and two championship courses designed to blend in beautifully with their natural surroundings. This attention to detail and the Ontario landscape make the two courses here – the Masters and its lengthier cousin the Legends – make Lionhead a memorable day for golfers at any skill level. Well-groomed fairways and greens keep the two eighteens challenging yet friendly, with staff happily offering tips and tricks. Players who pride themselves in accuracy and concentration may find themselves rewarded here.
Located just minutes off Highway 400 at Port Severn and a half-hour north of Barrie, Oak Bay Golf & Country Club is where majestic, rocky outcroppings set the stage for heroic tee shots. The gorgeous natural surroundings, the best of Muskoka and Georgian Bay, are part of what gives Oak Bay its reputation as a well-conditioned but challenging course. Players looking to step up their game will be rewarded with a day of memorable golfing adventures here.
Location: Port Severn
Located amidst the rural landscape of southwestern Ontario, mid-way between Woodstock and Port Dover, lies Otter Creek Golf Club. Set on 260 acres carved through the wooded valleys shaped by Otter, Cedar, and Spittler Creeks, and meandering over former tobacco fields, Otter Creek is a challenging, hidden gem of a course. It measures over 7,100 yards from the tips and features six sets of tees designed to test players of all skill levels. Regardless of your degree of experience, Otter Creek is a golf course that truly works with its surrounding environment to provide visitors the perfect combination of challenge and playability.
Resort golf at its best is just a three-hour drive north of Toronto. Deerhurst Highlands sits on the shores of Peninsula Lake and offers one of the most picturesque tests of golf in Ontario. It’s one of two 18-hole layouts at Deerhurst Resort, which itself is located on over 800 acres of gorgeous, rugged Muskoka countryside.
Architects Robert Cupp and Thomas McBroom co-designed this par 72 championship golf course with the region’s natural surroundings in mind, routing the holes through dense woods and tough granite terrain. Rocky outcrops, dramatic changes in elevation, as well as dense woodland will make any game of golf a formidable and breathtaking challenge.
Only PGA Tour-approved courses can carry the TPC name, and the three tracks at Osprey Valley (the only three in Canada) certainly measure up. The Osprey Valley complex sits by the Credit River Valley in Caledon, about an hour’s drive northwest of Toronto. Designed by architect Doug Carrick in 1992, Osprey Valley has three 18-hole courses, the most challenging being the Heathlands course. Its combination of contoured greens, feeder slopes, pot bunkers, hollows, and punishing fescue-covered dunes is what makes Osprey Valley a tricky, but ultimately fun, golf course to play. All three eighteens here make the list of Score Golf’s Top 59 Public Courses in Canada.
Sitting at the gateway to the Muskoka Lake District, the Muskoka Bay Club is another Doug Carrick-designed golf course routed in a rugged landscape routed over rocky cliffs, deep wooded valleys, and scenic wetland areas.
Dramatic elevation changes, forced carries, and tough terrain are what make this course particularly challenging, but players need not worry. The architect made sure to elevate many of the trees to give players a clear view of their landing area, minimizing the number of blind shots. Standing on the first tee, it becomes quickly apparent why Muskoka Bay is regarded by many the finest public course in Ontario.
Last updated: January 17, 2023