Manitoba’s ‘Must Golf’ Courses

(Story previously published in Canstar weeklies)

When someone asks me what the best golf courses are in Manitoba, I have a tough time answering. Considering there are more than 125 courses across the province, it’s hard to pick the ‘best’.

However, there are several courses that have made an impression on me for different reasons, which I now consider my favourites. Next time you’re looking for a great golfing getaway, here are three of my rural ‘must golf’ recommendations.

Minnewasta Golf & Country Club in Morden utilizes the natural terrain of the Pembina escarpment, resulting in twists and turns through hills and vales. Established in 1962 as a nine-hole course, it expanded to 18 in 1989 after internationally renowned golf course architect Les Furber redeveloped the site, staying true to its topography.

Golfing at Minnewasta feels a little like golfing in the mountains. Except there are no mountains. Add to this enough unpredictability to keep you wondering what’s coming next, and you’ll find a beautiful course with little room for error. Get sloppy on your shots, and your ball could bounce into bushes, disappear near a dam, rebound off a headstone, or get tangled up in brambles (ouch!). All of which makes it such a fun course to play.

The closest things to mountains we have in Manitoba are in Riding Mountain National Park, where you’ll also find Clear Lake Golf Course. A step back in time, Clear Lake dates back to 1923, when large swaths of land were cleared to stop the spread of insect plagues. In 1928, the area was chosen for the site of a golf course and construction began. Relief camp workers during the Great Depression supplied labour for the back nine, and the course opened in 1934 with green fees of fifty cents.

While fees cost substantially more than half-a-buck today, the log clubhouse – designated a heritage building – looks much the same as when it first opened. Here, indulge in a beverage and enjoy a great view of golfers humourously attempting to sink putts on the ferociously slanted ninth green, after a mercilessly blind approach shot from the fairway. This hole alone makes golf a four-letter word.

Celebrating its fifth birthday this August, Granite Hills Golf Club may be the youngest course in Manitoba, but you wouldn’t know it based on its pristine condition. Twenty minutes past Lac du Bonnet, Granite Hills boasts plushy fairways lined with mature trees, thoughtfully groomed areas, and well-manicured greens. Juxtapose the meticulous upkeep with the rugged landscape inherent to Canadian Shield country, and the result is one of the most stunning golfing locales Manitoba has to offer.

Elevated tee boxes on many of the holes provide a breathtaking view of surroundings that include five lakeside fairways, forests teeming with birch, poplar and pine, and towering granite outcroppings. When looking out from the tee boxes, as beautiful as it is to see where you’re going, where you’ve been is equally awesome. So remember to take a moment to look back before you move on, and soak up the sights along with the sunshine.

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