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 5 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.
South East Manitoba
In this post I will cover the largest area yet ranging from the Pembina Valley to the furthest south east corner of our province. Much of this area of Manitoba is relatively flat so golf courses of interest have to get creative to make the most of their terrain. Make no mistake, there are some high quality courses in south east Manitoba and many more I hope to see this year.
Bridges Golf Course - Heading due east on highway #2 out of Winnipeg you will run into Bridges Golf Course just before the small town of Starbuck. On the 15 minute drive out of the city you will see nothing but farmland until you reach the woodlands that surround the La Salle River that Bridges Golf Course cuts through for the majority of its routing. With 11 of the 18 holes designed as dog legs the golfer must think their way around the well manicured golf course. Some of these dog legs are extremely severe forcing the golfer to take their medicine off the tee and have a long approach to the green. This is not my favorite design but you cannot argue the test it provides. My favorite hole came early in the round on the par 4 third hole which plays along and over the La Salle River to a well bunkered complex (pictured below). All in all, I would go back to Bridges if given the chance and hopefully master the strategy of the property as it definitely got the better of me the first time around!
Carman Golf & Curling Club - About 50km south west of Bridges lies the home of NHL Hall of Famer Ed Belfour, Carman Manitoba. Carman's golf club is one of my favorites in the province not because of scenery, challenge or exclusivity but for the opposite of many of those traits. Carman Golf & Curling Club is located on a flat property, bordered by the Boyne River and measures in at just 5,969 yards. Do not be fooled, this course embodies what golf should be, fun, accessible and forgiving for the average or beginner golfer. The golf course has many mature tree lined holes with water hazards coming into play on many as well. It is not long but the accomplished golfer will be challenged if they want to play aggressively but there is always an "easy" route to play the hole. The Carman Golf & Curling Club is represented perfectly in the 18th hole pictured below. A 278 yard par 4 that is reachable for the long hitter but they have to hit it all the way to the green over the water while the wide fairway to the left gives shorter hitters a chance to make birdie the old fashion way. Consider CarmanG&CC for a fun day of golf this summer!
Minnewasta Golf & Country Club - Located in the southern Manitoba town of Morden, Minnewasta Golf & Country Club boasts one of the boldest and best golf courses in the province and the best golf course in this region. Minnewasta features some severe uphill and down hill holes that wind through the valley created by the Dead Horse Creek that winds through the course and comes into play many times throughout the routing. The course can play very tough even if the elements do not play a factor reaching out to a yardage of 6,646 yards. The course features two shared greens, something you do not see much of in Manitoba, including the 9th and 18th greens which sit perched atop the hill in which the large clubhouse and patio sits. Golfers can enjoy a beautiful view of the golf course and golfers finishing up their front & back nine from the patio after their round which is always a nice touch. With many memorable holes it is very difficult to say just one that stands out. My opinion of Minnewasta Golf & Country Club is that it is a must play in Manitoba and has to be seen in person to truly appreciate!
Winkler Centennial Golf Club - Down the road just 10 minutes east of Minnewasta is Winkler Centennial Golf Club. Originally opened in 1967, hence the Centennial name, WinklerCGC is located on a very flat property with a few holes naturally tree lined but many guarded by planted trees and water hazards. At 6,460 yards this golf course offers the growing community of Winkler a golf club they can be proud of and enjoy. The course will not beat you up and gives you every opportunity to score unless the prairie wind picks up in which case there is little shelter to block these elements from reeking havoc. In Winkler is no slouch of a golf course but it is often over shadowed by its neighbour to the west, Minnewasta. This is understandable as I myself even just crowned Minnewasta as the best golf course in the area but if you are in the area, adding Winkler Centennial Golf Club to your day may be a pleasant surprise!
Steinbach Fly-In Golf Club - Founded in 1954 by pilots of the Steinbach Flying Club, Steinbach Fly-in Golf Club offers golfers a traditional parkland golf experience. Unfortunately I have not played the golf course so I cannot speak directly to the course's appeal but there are a number of individuals who have told me how much they enjoy the course so there is an obligation for me to mention a course of this caliber. Just under 6,400 yards, the Fly-In has features similar to many in this area with a creek running through the flat property, mature trees guarding the fairways and excellent conditioning. I will be doing my very best to get out to Steinbach this season and I suggest you do the same!
Quarry Oaks - Just 10 minutes straight east of Steinbach is the golf facility of Quarry Oaks. Quarry features 27 holes with three nine hole routings all unique to each other. The Oak Nine features large oak lined fairways, water hazards and a parkland set up. The Desert Nine was designed to replicate the desert style courses you would see in Arizona. With a number of large sandy waste areas, designer Les Furber did the best Arizona impression you could do in south east Manitoba. The Quarry Nine runs through the old quarry that gives the property it's name with water coming into play on 7 of the 9 holes. Personally, I am a fan of Quarry Oaks, a unique public facility that offers a different golfing experience on each of its three routings. It has been a while since I have seen the course first hand but I remember being challenged on the course but enjoying the experience on well conditioned greens. Perhaps a marathon day of Steinbach Fly-In and a 27 hole experience at Quarry Oaks is in the future for me this summer!
Lake of the Sandhills Golf Course - Finally we head to the furthest south east corner of Manitoba that we can to find Lake of the Sandhills Golf Course. 200 km south east of Winnipeg, on the shore of Lake of the Woods sits Buffalo Point and Lake of the Sandhills Golf Course. With 5 holes coming in contact with the large lake, stunning views are abundant at this golf course. The other inland holes offer heavily tree lined fairways with strategic bunkering rolling over the relatively flat terrain that cascades towards the lake. The course demands many different shots from the golfer, challenging even the best players on its 6,800 yards while offering more room than it may sometimes appear from the tee box. The golf course and facility is talked about by many but often what is discussed the most isn't a part of the 18 hole layout. The 19th "Gambler" hole sits off of the club house and features an island green sitting out in Lake of the Woods (pictured below). This is a great way to settle a tied game after the 18th, disputes post round, or challenges well after the round after you enjoy some great food and many drinks! With a number of great accommodations right at the property, also with views of the lake, the entire facility offers an affordable, quality weekend get away for a weekend golf trip.
The south east corner of our province boasts many great 18 to 27 hole facilities but do not skip out on some of the small town 9 holers that I have not mentioned here. These are often the best kept secrets in the area and can more than pleasantly surprise you when stopping in for a quick 9. I simply have not played enough golf in the area to see everything it has to offer but am always open to recommendations so comment away!!
The final instalment of this series will feature golf in our provinces capital, Winnipeg. Stay tuned for one more read before you can get out and enjoy these courses for yourself this golf season!