Manitoba is not often thought of as a golf destination or as a province with high quality golf. While we do not have the mountains or an ocean to offer as the backdrop for our golf courses, Manitoba certainly isn't all flat wheat fields. We have valleys and beautiful lakes, thick woodlands and rock croppings, we even have the great Alister MacKenzie's only Canadian work in our province. Throughout these 4 posts leading up to golf season in Manitoba I will lay out all of the great golf available in Manitoba and how you can best enjoy them on your day or weekend off this summer.
North East Manitoba
As we head east in Manitoba the landscape changes in the north. With many large lakes and the rocky Canadian Shield breaking up the area, it is difficult to travel quickly between many of the golf courses the way you would in the southern portion of the province. For that reason I am going to go in basically two directions out of Manitoba's capital down the Highway #8 & Highway #59 where you can find great destinations for a day trip or an unrivalled golf weekend.
Highway 8 Due North
Teulon Golf & Country Club - Alright we are off Highway 8 slightly but I had to include Teulon Golf & Country Club on our trip north of Winnipeg. Located just 60km from Portage & Main, Teulon G&CC is a true gem for the community of 1,200. Like the terrain that surrounds in, the golf course is very flat but do not be fooled, they make the absolute most out of this flat terrain. The course is littered with thick, native foliage to keep you honest as well as many, well placed water hazards. The 6,441 yard course offers the less accomplished player a very enjoyable experience while enticing the longer hitter to go for the heroic carry on many of the short par 4s which is often ill advised. The finish at Teulon is more than likely what sold me with the short par 4 17th and the short par 5 18th offering an opportunity to make or break your round or provide a dramatic finish to any close match. Teulon Golf & Country Club is a fun golf experience for golfers of all ages and skill levels.
Links at the Lake - Located in Gimli Manitoba on the shore of Lake Winnipeg lies Links at the Lake. Unfortunately I have not had a chance to play this course myself but by all appearances the course looks beautifully maintained and the location on one of Manitoba's largest lakes is tough to beat. Stretching out to 6,605 yards Links at the Lake should offer the longer hitters a formidable challenge. The course appears to be separated from Lake Winnipeg by a street and several houses although aside from that the view is unobstructed by trees which is great because I cannot think of a more stunning golf hole in Manitoba than one that runs directly along the banks of a lake...
Hecla Island - I had the chance to play Hecla in the fall of last year after hearing rave reviews for many years. The entire property of Hecla Island is a fantastic place to spend a weekend away with a great resort, beach, golf course, historical town, hiking trails and much more. The golf course is for the most part cut out of the thick poplar forest with strategic bunkering placed throughout. The part of the property that stands out the most to many visitors is when the back nine breaks away from this forest and out to the banks of Lake Winnipeg. Holes 12, 13 & 14 run directly along one of Manitoba's great lakes giving brief glimpses of the stunning lake. This stood out to me for an entirely different reason. I played 3 holes directly along the water, and 2-3 others in close proximity to the lake and could only really see the water on a couple greens. Do not get me wrong, this was beautiful but for the most part the trees between the fairway and the lake hampered the view of the closest thing we will get to an ocean setting in Manitoba which really would take Hecla to the next level strategically and visually. I assume without these trees for cover, the lake side fairways and greens would take a beating over the winter months with harsh winter winds coming off Lake Winnipeg. This one, small issue aside, this is arguably the best golf course in the region and well worth the less than 2 hour drive from Winnipeg.
Highway 59 North East
Grand Pines - A little over an hour north of Winnipeg's center, near the east banks of Lake Winnipeg lies Grand Pines. Regretably another golf course I have not had a chance to play but once again, when multiple people recommend a golf course it is worth checking out. Measuring 6,664 yards from the back tees, Grand Pines winds through large mature birch and pine trees. It was designed by David Grant to conform to USGA specs which tells me this will be a strategic, well bunkered golf course with a great variety of hole designs. In a setting in close proximity to Victoria and Grand Beach, Grand Pines offers a great day to get away for a morning round of golf and an afternoon on the beach.
Granite Hills Golf Club - A golf course that has stormed onto the golfing scene in Manitoba in the last 10+ years and for good reason. An hour and a half out of Winnipeg, 20 minutes north of Lac du Bonnet, Granite Hills Golf Club is established. This course cuts through the rocky ground of the Canadian Shield to the shores of Lac du Bonnet boasting 5 holes directly along the lake offering the views that I wish Helca had more of down the entirety of the fairway. Outside of these five holes, Granite Hills does not disappoint either. The holes wind up and down the dramatic, rocky terrain with fairways bordered by thick, native forrest and large rock croppings. This track stretches out to 7,082 yards making it a real challenge for golfers should they choose to take on it's full length. I was equally impressed with many of the inland holes but my favorite hole has to be the short par 4 16th which has the lake directly down your left side for the entire hole offering great views and a birdie opportunity on the closing stretch of your round. Despite a sometimes less than welcoming atmosphere, Granite Hills is well worth the trip into the Canadian Shield to see.
Pinawa Golf & Country Club - Located just 30 south of Granite Hills Golf Club is the "Course That Nature Built", Pinawa Golf & Country Club. Much like Granite Hills, Pinawa cuts through rocky terrain and boreal forrest to create a dramatic 6,270 yard golf course. Located along the banks of the Pinawa Channel & Winnipeg River Pinawa is not demanding in length off the tee and you only see these bodies of water come in to play on a few holes. That is not to say Pinawa is lacking in anyway. The golf course is one of my favorites in the province, offering a fun, sporty lay out with the potential for some shots to ricochet off the rock formations, sometimes for the better, sometimes not so much. This character can be seen in the punch bowl like green pictured below. Much like Granite Hills, PinawaG&CC is slightly isolated but is worth the trip and when properly conditioned is potentially my favorite in this area.
Falcon Lake Golf Course - A course that I decided to include in the North East region is located directly down the Trans Canada highway, an hour and a half east of Winnipeg. Cut directly out of thick forrest, Falcon Lake is an extremely peaceful setting created by Norman H. Woods in the mid to late 1950's. The course is always in fantastic condition and remains almost unchanged from the day it opened which is rare with many well renowned golf courses today. After Lakeland Golf Management recently took over operation of the golf course Falcon has seen a wealth of improvements to infrastructure including a beautiful new clubhouse. In addition to a great golf course, Falcon Lake offers an 18 hole mini golf course, tennis courts, botchy ball and horse shoe games for additional activities. I want to complement Falcon on these additional offerings and not just settling for a premiere golf course, but growing their offerings to the public. Offering these other activities brings other individuals to the property and widens the exposure to the game of golf specifically with the younger demographic. Well done Falcon Lake!
As I say every week, there are far more courses in this vast, scenic area of Manitoba that I have not had the chance to personally see. There are many great ways to spend the weekend in the North East portion of our province. Writing this has left me motivated to revisit this area in 2019 as it is littered with great golf and even better scenic options. Stay tuned for next week's instalment featuring the largest area featured yet in the final instalment, the South East.