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 WEST MANITOBA:
I am beginning with where I grew up playing golf as a kid, south west Manitoba. Home to over 25 golf courses, including the oldest golf club in Manitoba, this area is ripe with unique and quality golf. While I cannot outline them all, here are some of the ones I have seen first hand and recommend to all.
Virden Wellview Golf Club - beginning with the oldest golf club in Manitoba, Virden Wellview Golf Club is located just outside the town of Virden, 270km straight west of the perimeter highway. Established in 1892 Virden Wellview is a 9 hole course that stretches out to a refreshing 3,150yards. The "Wellview" name is exactly as it sounds as on a number of holes pumpjacks of the Virden oil wells can be seen (pictured below). The course was redesigned by Canadian Architect Les Furber. Virden offers some of the best risk reward in the area and a great set of par 3s. Holes 7-9 offer a fantastic finish to the round and I could not decide which hole of these 3 was my favorite. Virden will be opening their new clubhouse this season having lost theirs to a tragic fire in 2017. Definitely a must see 9 holer in Manitoba.
Oak Island Golf Resort - Let's head 20 minutes south and east of Virden from the oldest continuous golf club in Manitoba to the second youngest club in the Province. Oak Island Golf Course was also designed by Les Furber and opened for play in 2008. Oak Island may be the best golf course in south west Manitoba. The course is like no other in Manitoba surrounded by prairie wetlands on all sides, Oak Island's fairways cut through oak trees that have stood on the island for hundreds of years. Stretching to 6,626 yards the course has a nice blend of open, well bunkered holes and tighter, tree lined holes. The par 5s do a great job of tempting the longer hitters while providing a straight forward path for the shorter hitters. My personal favorite hole is the par 5 13th early in the morning. You will have a great view of the rising sun over the prairie wetlands that guard the left side of the entire hole and the hole provides some of the best risk, reward on the golf course. (13th pictured below)
A day trip to Oak Island and Virden Wellview is a day of at least 27 holes that will not disappoint!
Wheat City Golf Course - For a city of 56,000+ Brandon has relatively few options within its city limits but at it's heart along the Assiniboine River lies Wheat City Golf Course. Golf in Brandon began on the location of Wheat City Golf Course and it continues to be the go to for many Brandon residents. The 6,300 yard course made news for all the wrong reasons over the past 8 year due to severe flooding that destroyed a good portion of the course. The city began the long road back multiple times as the relentless Assiniboine continued to reak havoc but today the Wheat City is back. The course winds up and down the Assiniboine River and its valley making for some fantastic views and very attractive golf holes. They even made great use of the dike constructed to protect the course with multiple tee boxes on top of the dike and an amphitheatre like look around the 2nd green (awesome). The course wastes little time introducing you to its signature traits as the first hole exposes you to arguably the best view and hole on the golf course that will tempt the long hitters to go for the green and challenge the river. (pictured below)
Shilo Country Club - located 32km east of Wheat City is CFB Shilo home to the Shilo Country Club. ShiloCC is widely known in the area for its pure, extremely fast greens and excellent conditioning. Full disclosure, this was my home course for 8 years but bias aside this golf course is the benchmark for conditioning of golf courses in Manitoba, you will always find great playing conditions in Shilo. Another thing you will almost always find is the wind. The wind guards this 6,625 yard course that winds through the open prairie fescue, into poplar tree lined fairways and back out into the prairie as you come home on a back to back par 5 finish. There are many great golf holes on ShiloCC but the most talked about, and my favorite is the 420yard par 4 10th pictured below. A tough driving hole with a diabolical green where par is considered birdie by most. SCC calls itself "Westman's Best 18" and it is often tough to argue otherwise.
Glen Lea Golf Course - Opened for play in 1982 Glen Lea has seen major improvements over the past decade making it a fantastic venue to play 18. Located just 6km east of Brandon, Glen Lea stretches out to just 5,650 yards which allows for the golf course to offer some short par 4s and providing something more golf courses should strive for, fun! The course plays in and out of a small creek valley and provides views of the Assiniboine valley throughout play. The par 3 second hole pictured below is a good representation of Glen Lea, holes short enough for all skill levels to enjoy and still a challenge for the more accomplished player. Glen Lea definitely deserves consideration when in the Brandon area for golf and lies very close to Brandon's amenities.
South West Gems:
Killarney Lakeside Golf Course - 220km south west of the perimeter highway and 100km south of Brandon lies Killarney Lakeside Golf Course. The lush fairways of KLGC play along Killarney lake and through large mature trees throughout its routing. Playing at a yardage of 6,180 from the back tees the course offers unique challenges with one of the most challenging set of par 3s I have played in Manitoba. There are a number of heroic carry options throughout the course to tempt the player which the 9th hole embodies perfectly. The 9th hole plays as a dog leg right with the entire right side guarded by the lake. Playing just 295yards the long hitters are tempted to drive it over the trees and the lake at the green and finish their front 9 with an eagle (9th hole pictured below). Killarney Lakeside Golf Course lives up to its slogan "Hidden Jewel of the South".
Pleasant Valley Golf Course - I quite enjoy talking to those who have played Pleasant Valley and will give me their opinions of the golf course. The golf course is located just 20 minutes north east of Killarney. It is a very unique golf experience and I love every bit of it. With a creek winding through the course affecting 10 holes and severe elevation changes on the tight back 9, PV offers something that very few golf courses in Manitoba do, fun and challenge... on every hole! This challenge can turn off many golfers as lost balls are lurking at every turn but fantastic playing conditions will often combat these misguided views of the course. Coming in under 6,000 yards (5,875) Pleasant Valley is a unique challenge that everyone should experience for themselves and form their own opinions! Side note - there is not a single bunker on the course!
If you are a camper or enjoy spending time on our near Manitoba lakes, this area of Manitoba offers no shortage of beautiful camping options.
9 Hole Gems:
Aside from Virden I have not made mention of all of the 9 hole options available for the real golf addicts to fill their day. There are around 20 nine holers throughout south west Manitoba all of which are the gems of their rural community. They are all noteworthy but as this post drags on I will give mention to a few that stand out to me.
Glenboro Golf & Country Club - please read past my bias as I give note to my childhood home which has been recognized as one of the best 9 hole golf courses in North America. Glenboro offers a fun, almost bunkerless layout that rolls over the sandy terrain. Glenboro is not known for its level lies! A day on GlenboroGCC followed by some exploration of Spruce Woods Provincial Park is a day well spent.
Souris Glenwood Golf Course - A beautiful small town course also located in a river valley has faced issues with the Souris River but has come through on the other side offering one of the most beautiful settings to play golf in Manitoba. Diving deep into the valley off the first tee, you are treated to a fair test of golf along one of the Souris River's tributaries before climbing back up to the clubhouse on the thrilling 9th hole finisher.
Carberry Sandhills Golf Course - Despite its name Carberry Sandhills Golf Course winds through a thick grouping of trees for the entirety of its 9 holes. The courses offers great challenge with the trees offering much of the defence while providing many opportunities to put together a great score. A very good golf course at an even better rate to play! Just a few minutes down the road lies the new Sand Hills Casino.
As I stated above there are many other noteworthy golf courses in the south west corner of our province but these are some that are worth putting on your hit list this golf season. Stay tuned for more courses in the North West Region of the province!