Stone Ridge: Beautiful Lakeside Setting


On The Road:

The Northern Golf Experiences Along Ontario’s Highway 17.

Posted by: Rick Parnham


Setting out for one of those long distance drives we Ontarians enjoy each summer, I looked forward to spending some time with friends along the shores of Lake Superior. Finding a few extra days to include a visit to all the golf courses along the stretch of of highway between Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie was an added bonus.


The north channel of Lake Huron has long been known as one of the best sailing locales in the Great Lakes. The stretch of bays and straits that lead from Manitoulin to the St. Mary’s River is a water corridor that is paralleled by a portion of the Trans Canada, Highway 17. The 3 ½ hour drive from Sudbury to the Soo has plenty of lakes, lodges and museums highlighting the history of settlement and mining along the route. Golf is less of a fixture along this ribbon of asphalt, so I decided to sample the trio of courses this stretch of highway has to offer. A pair of top quality championship courses are found in Elliott Lake and Blind River, while a charming nine hole course sits along the banks of the Spanish River in Espanola. Each fits a niche within the local community and offers a different experience for golfers.

Espanola Golf Club: The Town of Espanola is home to a major craft paper mill that occupies a vast portion of the southern banks of the reservoir behind the Spanish River Dam. A few meters downstream from the dam, the Espanola Golf Club shares the same waters of the river. The course was opened in 1942 and has been serving the local golf needs ever since. Playing to a par of 35, the nine-hole routing traverses a flat plain along the river banks over the early holes. The opening tee shot provides a wow moment as the fairway of this par 4 lays some 100 feet below. A varied cluster of 6 par 4 holes lays in the valley below the clubhouse, framed by a steep heavily wooded  bluff to the south and the dark waters of the river to the north. The second hole is an risk / reward dogleg left, that plays to a raised green with a daunting creek in front. The fifth hole is an exacting hole that gently bends to the left playing along a tight corridor between a wooded bank on the left and steep fall away to the river on the right. The par 4 dogleg 6th plays back up to the tablelands where the round began. The lengthy trio that finishes the round are all open and at the mercy to the breezes. A round at Espanola Golf Club is friendly, walkable, good value and a fun time regardless of your golfing ability. [Course website]

Stone Ridge Golf Club: Elliott Lake has long been touted the retirement capital of Ontario for its plentiful recreation opportunities, beautiful surroundings  and its affordability. One of the terrific outdoor options residents and visitors have to enjoy is the superb Stone Ridge Golf Club. The club was completely redesigned by Ted Baker and opened for play in 2005. The 68?? Yard championship test plays along the shores of Ryan Lake and in the shadows of a massive granite ridge that forms the backdrop to much of the front nine. The routing is imminently playable, with much of the shot making demands found on the approach shots. The layout features a great collection of par 3 holes, each very different in yardage and design. The par 5’s are all reachable in two shots for the big hitters, but provide a good balance of risk and reward. The fairways are driver friendly with plenty of room if you are a little errant with aim off the tee. It is the greens that provide the biggest measure of challenge on the round, many with false fronts or fall aways to the sides or back. The trek along Highway 108 a few kilometers north of the Trans Canada is an absolute must play should you find yourself heading north for a summer adventure. [Full On The Tee review]


Stone Ridge: The Big Finish


Huron Pines Golf Club: Another pleasant surprise happened with a visit to Huron Pines Golf Club in Blind River. Widely recognized as one of the most regarded golf facilities in Northern Ontario, the experience admirably lived up to billing. The routing is a combination of the work of two noted Canadians, with Robbie Robinson (1984) designing the front nine and Graham Cooke (2001) crafting the new nine forming the closing holes. Located on a pristine piece of land adjacent to the Mississagi River the routing takes full advantage of the rolling terrain and thick forests of hardwood and evergreens. A big, bold par 5 opens the round bending to the right and providing you a feel of what the next 4 hours has to offer. The fairways are generous, but lined with wide strips of thick deep rough before the tree lines. Finding the short grass will be a key to scoring well at Huron Pines. The green complexes are filled with ridges and hollows making a difficult task of a 2 putt par should you find yourself on the wrong tier of a green. A great variety of holes are found, requiring you to hit every club and type of shot your game can muster. The closing hole is another lengthy par 5 and has the ominous dark waters of the river flowing along the right side from tee to green. The course is very walkable with some elevation change but nothing severe. This course certainly lives up to the acclaim it has received, an absolute must play for the challenge, shot making and conditioning. [Full On The Tee review]


Huron Pines: A Northern Ontario Must Play


With so many demands placed on or daily schedule and always seeming to be in a rush to get from place to place, taking the time to enjoy these three golf experiences was welcomed. Getting to learn about the communities from some of the stories told by locals and not just by asking Google was enlightening and refreshing. Seeing these communities from my feet and not from behind the wheel gave a new appreciation for what the north is about. Finding three unique golf opportunities along the way was a terrific bonus.   

Related Northern Ontario editorial: Timberwolf, Sault Ste. Marie,





























Espanola Golf Club