The heart of the Laurentians is home to some of
Canada’s finest golf courses.

Right from the get-go the most notable golf courses in Canada generally had one thing in common. Even before earth moving machines began shaping their layouts, each of the existing landscapes was decidedly special. Mother Nature had provided parcels of land so superbly scenic and geographically interesting, they were perfect putty from which to mould memorable tracks. Moreover, none of these special places is finer than Quebec’s Mont Tremblant region, 90 minutes north of Montreal. Here in the heart of the Laurentian Mountains, amidst the physical beauty of this all-seasons playground, distinguished designers have created some of the top golf courses in the country.

Renowned courses, beautiful surroundings

At over 80 years old, the most seasoned of the region’s courses is La Belle (The Beauty), a classic mountain layout appropriately named for its scenic splendour. Attached to Gray Rocks Resort, a year-round vacation complex situated on the shores of pristine Lake Ouimet, this well groomed track that meanders through lush mountain valleys was not designed to beat golfers up, rather to give them a pleasant day on the links.

It could be argued that La Belle’s sister course, La Bête (The Beast), is also appropriately named. This championship track designed by prominent Quebec architect, Graham Cooke, is tough and tricky. But for players who can manage strategically placed shots, The Beast is capable of being tamed. No matter who comes out on top, golfer or Beast, play on this course guarantees a memorable experience.

Marc Atchison, former editor of the Toronto Star’s annual Canadian golf guide said, “I played La Bête in a beating down rainstorm but the course was so good I never considered stopping. Every hole is magnificent.”

Just down the road from Gray Rocks are the Intrawest-owned, Tremblant Resort’s celebrated sister tracks Le Géant (The Giant) and Le Diable (The Devil), plus a state-of-the-art teaching academy. Lying cheek to jowl with the sprawling Tremblant Resort village, Le Géant was designed by master architect Thomas McBroom. This awesome track demands precision shot-making to combat its somewhat narrow fairways, numerous elevation changes, few flat lies and 52 silica sand bunkers. “This is one of McBroom’s best works,” said Atchison. “He excels at crafting courses out of mountain terrains.” With panoramic vistas from every hole, Le Geant’s elevated tees and greens provide added drama to a course that many consider the most challenging in the area.

Sister course, Le Diable is as immaculately groomed as its sibling and barely less challenging. This championship, Arizona-style course features long fairways that thread through stands of red pine forest and memorable elements include a proliferation of expansive waste bunkers, 44 rust-red sand traps and two man-made lakes.

Le Diable is currently being re-branded as a prestigious Raven course, an Intrawest-owned brand founded on the principles of outstanding course conditions and quality customer service. The re-branding will unfold over the next couple of years but for the present Le Diable will retain its name for the local market.

The latest addition to the cluster of Tremblant area courses is Le Maître (The Master), a Clublink project co-designed by celebrated pro golfer, Fred Couples, and architects Graham Cooke and Darrell Huxham. “The variety and natural beauty of the site made me realize we could design something very special,” said Couples about his first design project in Canada. “I enjoy a course where I can clearly see the hazards and layout of a hole from the tee so I can decide the best way to play it. The challenge comes from the location and placement of hazards, greens and course shaping. I think we have those ingredients at Le Maître.”

Bordering the scenic Diable River, its layout embodies three different characteristics that alternate from typical Laurentian woodland; to Scottish links-style golf; to a wetland landscape reminiscent of Carolina low country.
Le Maitre is a Clublink members’ course with limited access. However, guests of affiliated Tremblant hotels can arrange stay/play packages at participating properties that include: Fairmont Hotel, Quintessence Hotel, Chateau Beau Vallon, Grand Lodge, Marriott Hotel, Club Tremblant and Comfort Inn.

Minutes from Tremblant village is the 18-hole Royal Laurentian, a family-owned operation whose impressive garden landscaping and impeccable conditioning belie plenty of challenge.

In addition to 80 sand traps, the course’s layout has the wet stuff on 13 holes and unless golfers can walk on water they will use the 16 bridges that make the course navigable. Overall, this is a good value track that provides an enjoyable round for all skill levels.

Après golf

One of the area’s most popular attractions is the Tremblant Resort’s extensive pedestrian village, an alpine enclave that gets more than 2.5 million visitors a year. With its mountainside maze of cobblestone streets and charming pastel buildings, it looks like it was snatched off a mountainside in Switzerland and transplanted in Tremblant. In terms of entertainment it has it all: bistros, outdoor cafes, 42 restaurants, 45 shops, spas, movie theatre, bars and nightlife hotspots. A water sports centre offers sailing, waterskiing, canoeing, kayaking, windsurfing and boat tours. The Tremblant Activity Centre arranges horseback riding and ATV tours.

TRAVEL PLANNER

Gray Rocks: seewww.grayrocks.com or call 1-800-567-6744
Tremblant: see www.tremblant.ca or call 1-866-274-7731
Le Maitre: see www.clublink.ca or call 1-819-425-9888
Royal Laurentian: www.royallaurentien.com or call 1-800-465-3769

Accommodations: Grey Rocks, Tremblant and Royal Laurentian have a variety of hotel and/or other resort accommodations. Prices vary widely and they can be obtained by calling the properties’ toll free number or going online. Other accommodations not connected to the golf courses can be found on the internet at www.laurentians.com.