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Furber's Varadero GC; Golf Digest's Best New in Canada

So I arrived back in Canada yesterday after a week in Varadero, Cuba, the haunt of European and Canadian tourists. I’ll start posting again regularly, using our new WordPress platform after the computer crash Ontgolf.ca experienced a couple of weeks back.

Cuba was fascinating. Not an American in sight, though they do occasionally materialize there now. Lots of from France. Many of the French women enjoy sitting around topless. That’s not a social comment — just a matter of fact.

When not checking out the French Connection in Cuba, the vacation gave me a chance to see Varadero GC, designed by Canmore’s Les Furber.

One of only two courses on the island, with the other being a nine hole course in Havana, Varadero does about 32,000 rounds, all in six months. Then the Canadians go home and golf ends.

So what did Furber create? Well, the site, jammed between a highway and resorts, is far from ideal. Mostly Florida flat. But there is nothing awful about Varadero GC — it is inoffensive golf at its finest. At its best, there are three really strong holes with nice topography — the 8th, a mid-length par three with a well-protected green perched near the ocean; the 17th, a long par three of 215-yards that played slightly uphill and downwind, and the 18th, the only true ocean hole, a 400-yard par four with some interesting bunkering, contours and a good skyline green site.

That was Varadero GC at its best. The rest looked like a course in central FLA, which isn’t surprising considering Cuba is just 80 miles off of the Florida Keys.

The biggest problem the club has is it is the only one. The management at the course realizes they need more and have apparently hired European Golf Design, the team behind the terrific Carton House in Ireland. It should have five holes on the ocean, but only if Castro approves a budget.

Interestingly, Choppy Klein, who runs the golf program at the club told me that prior to Varadero GC’s construction in 1996, a senior staffer from Jack Nicklaus’ company snuck onto the island to consider options should the American government allow U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba. Apparently, according to Klein, the Nicklaus exec had no interest in the course — he just wanted to see its proximity to the airport and marina.

“If this is close to those facilities,” the exec said, “then it would be a slam dunk. Americans would come down here for a weekend to play golf.”

Alas, it hasn’t happened yet. Doesn’t make much sense either. After all, thousands of Americans were killed in Vietnam, but the U.S. does business with that country. Why not let its citizens play golf in Cuba?

So Golf Digest’s best new course list seems complete, though there’s still no mention of Doug Carrick’s Humber Valley in Newfoundland. It isn’t a particularly strong list this year, likely reflective of the fact that the golf boom in this country has slowed some. Early favourites? Well, I’m not great at picking what my fellow raters will vote for, but it seems like it will be between Bond Head and The Ridge at Manitou, both highly regarded courses. I suspect many will be taken by the Ridge, which is pretty, has several strong holes, and has almost no members. Few can resist the lure of an empty, nicely conditioned private course….

Here’s the list:

Ambassador Golf Club
1025 Sprucewood Ave.,
Windsor, Ontario N9J 3Z1
Directions: From Detroit, cross into Canada via Ambassador Bridge, then follow Huron Church Rd. to E.C. Row Expressway West. Follow signs to Windsor Raceway. Turn left onto Sprucewood Ave. and proceed to club entrance on the right.
David Cours, General Manager & Course Superintendent.
www.ambassadorgolfclub.com
New Canadian Course, opened August 25, 2005.
Thomas McBroom, designer.

Black Bear Ridge Golf Course
501 Harmony Rd.,
P.O. Box 1418,
Belleville, Ontario K8N 5J1
Directions: From Toronto, east on Hwy. 401 to Hwy. 37 (Exit 544), then north 8 km to Harmony Rd. (third set of traffic lights), then left 1 km to course entrance on the right.
John Porter, Director of Operations.
Bill Kerr, Head Professional.
www.blackbearridge.ca
Bill Fach, Course Superintendent.
New Canadian Course, opened May 28, 2005.
Brian Magee, designer.

Black Diamond Golf Club
705 Pontypool Rd.,
Pontypool, Ontario L0A 1K0
P.O. Box 944,
Peterborough, Ontario K9H 7A5
Bobby Hayden or
Darren Stalteri, Head Professional.
www.blackdiamondgolfclub.ca
Sean Schoffer, Course Superintendent.
New Canadian Course, opened May 20, 2005.
Jason Miller and Jack Lally, designers. BraeBen Golf Course
5700 Terry Fox Way,
Mississauga, Ontario L5V 2W2
Directions: Hwy. 401 to Mavis Rd., then south to Britannia Rd., then west to Terry Fox Way, then south to course entrance on the right.
Marc Skinner, General Manager.
www.braeben.ca
New Canadian Course, opened June 15, 2005.
Ted Baker, designer.The Canal at Delacour Golf Club
P.O. Box 20,
Calgary, Alberta P0M 0T0
Directions: In Calgary, Hwy. 2 north to Hwy. 564, then east 10 miles to course entrance, at the intersection of Hwy. 564 and Hwy. 791 (Range Rd. 280).
403-590-4515. Fax: 403-590-4515.
Cell: 403-837-4515.
www.thecanalatdelacour.com
Terry Shinkewski, Course Superintendent.
New Canadian Course, opened July 21, 2005.
Doug McIntosh, designer.
The Canal at Delacour Golf ClubP.O. Box 20, Calgary, Alberta P0M 0T0Directions: In Calgary, Hwy. 2 north to Hwy. 564, then east 10 miles to course entrance, at the intersection of Hwy. 564 and Hwy. 791 (Range Rd. 280). 403-590-4515. Fax: 403-590-4515.Cell: 403-837-4515.www.thecanalatdelacour.comTerry Shinkewski, Course Superintendent. New Canadian Course, opened July 21, 2005. Doug McIntosh, designer.

The Canal at Delacour Golf ClubP.O. Box 20, Calgary, Alberta P0M 0T0Directions: In Calgary, Hwy. 2 north to Hwy. 564, then east 10 miles to course entrance, at the intersection of Hwy. 564 and Hwy. 791 (Range Rd. 280). 403-590-4515. Fax: 403-590-4515.Cell: 403-837-4515.www.thecanalatdelacour.comTerry Shinkewski, Course Superintendent. New Canadian Course, opened July 21, 2005. Doug McIntosh, designer.

The Club at Bond Head (South Course)
4805 7th Line,
P.O. Box 300,
Bond Head, Ontario L0G 1B0
Directions: From Toronto, Hwy. 400 north toe Rte. 88, then west through town of Bond Head to course entrance on the left.
905-778-9400 ext. 224. Fax: 905-775-4854.
www.theclubatbondhead.com
Ian McQueen, Course Superintendent.
New Canadian Course, opened May 15, 2005.
Michael Hurdzan, Dana Fry and Jason Straka, designers.

The Grand Niagara Club
8547 Grassy Brook Rd.,
Port Robinson, Ontario L0S 1K0
Directions: QEW to Lyons Creek Rd. (Rte. 47), then west to Montrose Rd., then right to Grassy Brook Rd., then left to course entrance.
905-384-4653 ext. 222. Fax: 905-384-1891.
grandniagararesort.com
Paul Gurr, Course Superintendent.
New Canadian Course, opened July 15, 2005.
Rees Jones, designer.

Fox Creek Golf Club
200 Golf St.,
Dieppe, New Brunswick E1A 8J6
Directions: South of the Greater Moncton airport off Rue Champlain.
Eddy Arsenault, Pro Shop Manager.
www.foxcreekgolfclub.ca
Pascal Richard, Course Superintendent.
New Canadian Course, opened July 1, 2005.
Graham Cooke, designer.

La Tempete Golf Club
151 Rue Des Trois Manoirs,
Breakeyville, Quebec G0S 1E2
Directions; From Quebec City, Hwy. 17 south 10 miles to Exit 128, then left on Beaulieu for 3 miles (note: road name changes to Ave. St-Augustin) to St-Helene, then left two blocks to Brassard Sud, then right to course entrance.
418-832-8111. Fax: 418-832-1799.
www.golflatempete.com
Trevor Chiasson, Course Superintendent.
New Canadian Course, opened August 23, 2005.
Darrell Huxham, designer.

Manoir Richelieu Golf Club (Richelieu & St. Laurent 9s)
181 rue Richelieu,
La Malbaie, Quebec G5A1X7
Directions: From Quebec City, Hwy. 440 east to Rte, 138, then east on Rte. 138 to Baie-St-Paul, then east on Rd. 362 to Pointe-au-Pic. Turn right on Chemin des Falaises (blinking yellow light) and follow signs to Casino de Charlevoix.
418-665-8959. Fax: 418-665-4566.
Denis Dallaire, Course Superintendent.
Remodeled Canadian Course, reopened May 13, 2005.
Darrell Huxham, designer.

The Meadows of East St. Paul
2511 McGregor Farm Rd. N.,
East St. Paul, Manitoba R2E 1E9
Directions: From downtown Winnipeg, north on Lagimodier Blvd. (Hwy. 59) past Perimeter Hwy. to access road, then right to McGregor Farm Rd., then right to course entrance on the left.
204-667-4653. Fax: 204-339-6099.
www.themeadowsgc.com
Vic Peters, Course Superintendent.
New Canadian Public Course, opened June 1, 2005.
David Grant, designer.Mystic Golf Club
1707 Jerseyville Rd. W.,
Ancaster, Ontario L0R 1R0
(mailing address:
P.O. Box 10195,
Ancaster, Ontario L9K 1P5)
Directions: West from Ancaster on Hwy. 403 to Hwy. 52, then north to Jerseyville Rd., then left to course entrance on the right.
905-304-3344. Fax: 905-304-3144.
www.mysticgolfclub.com
New Canadian Course, opened September 1, 2005.
Tom Pearson, designer.
Mystic Golf Club1707 Jerseyville Rd. W., Ancaster, Ontario L0R 1R0(mailing address:P.O. Box 10195,Ancaster, Ontario L9K 1P5)Directions: West from Ancaster on Hwy. 403 to Hwy. 52, then north to Jerseyville Rd., then left to course entrance on the right.905-304-3344. Fax: 905-304-3144.www.mysticgolfclub.comNew Canadian Course, opened September 1, 2005. Tom Pearson, designer.

Mystic Golf Club1707 Jerseyville Rd. W., Ancaster, Ontario L0R 1R0(mailing address:P.O. Box 10195,Ancaster, Ontario L9K 1P5)Directions: West from Ancaster on Hwy. 403 to Hwy. 52, then north to Jerseyville Rd., then left to course entrance on the right.905-304-3344. Fax: 905-304-3144.www.mysticgolfclub.comNew Canadian Course, opened September 1, 2005. Tom Pearson, designer.

The Ridge at Manitou Golf Club
160 Inn Rd.,
McKellar, Ontario
Mailing Address:
R.R. # 1, S-11, C-16,
Parry Sound, Ontario P2A 2W7
Directions: Hwy. 400 to Hwy. 69 in Parry Sound, then north to Hwy. 124, then right to Centre Rd. in McKellar, then right to Camp Rd., then right to Inn Rd., then left to course entrance.
705-389-3977. Cell: 705-774-0033.
Drew Rachar, General Manager/Course Superintendent.
705-389-2552. Fax: 705-389-2687. Cell: 705-774-3605.
www.ridgeatmanitou.com
New Canadian Course, opened July 1, 2005.
Thomas McBroom, designer.

Smuggler’s Glen Golf Course
1000 Islands Pkwy.,
P.O. Box 10,
Gananoque, Ontario K7G T6
Directions: From Ottawa, west on Hwy. 401 to Exit 659 (Landsdowne/Ivy Lea Exit), then left onto Reynolds Rd. for 1 km to T-intersection, then right onto 1000 Islands Pkwy., then west 5 km to course entrance on the right.
613-659-4999. Fax: 613-659-4965.
www.smugglersglen.com
Jason Boyce, Course Superintendent.
New Canadian Public Course, opened July 21, 2005.
Boyd Barr, designer.

Stone Ridge Golf Course
71 Nordic Mine Rd.,
(P.O. Box 544),
Elliot Lake, Ontario P5A 2S9
Directions: From Sault St. Marie, east on Hwy. 17 for 75 miles to Hwy. 108, then north to Nordic Mine Rd., then right to course entrance.
705-848-8695.
www.golfstoneridge.com
New Canadian Course, opened July 22, 2005.
Ted Baker, designer.

Thundering Waters Golf Club
6000 Marineland Pkwy.,
Niagara Falls, Ontario L2E 6X8
Directions: From Hamilton, south on QEW to McLeod Rd. in Niagara Falls (Exit 27). Turn left onto McLeod and proceed 3 km (where McLeod becomes Marine Pkwy.) to course entrance on the right, at the intersection with Stanley Ave. N.
905-357-6000 ext. 434. Fax: 905-357-6007.
www.thunderingwaters.com
Andy Rambacus, Course Superintendent.
New Canadian Course, opened September 19, 2005.
Bo Danoff and John Daly, designers.

Whitewater Golf Club
224 Hwy. 130, R.R. # 6,
Thunder Bay, Ontario P7C 5N5
Directions: From Grand Portage, Minnesota, north on Hwy. 61 across Canadian border 29 miles to West Arthur St. (Hwys. 11/17) in Thunder Bay, then west to Hwy. 130, then left to course entrance on the left.

www.whitewatergolf.com
Jeff Parker, Course Superintendent.
New Canadian Public Course, opened May 1, 2005.
Thomas McBroom, designer.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

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