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Golfing the HIghway 11 Corridor

Golfing the HIghway 11 Corridor

Great greens in the wilderness setting at Heron Landing Golf Course on Couchiching First Nation near Fort Frances.

A weekend road trip

Enjoyable tee to green experiences at reasonable prices with the best course conditions in July, August and into September.



A weekend drive to golf the Highway 11 corridor that runs from Thunder Bay to Rainy River through the border region of Northwest Ontario in the Heart of the Continent makes for an enjoyable September road trip.

Start your trip off in Thunder Bay  testing yours skills on a selection of nine and 18-hole courses that offer an enjoyable tee to green experience for players of all levels at reasonable prices.

You will find the some of best course conditions in September. This is when greens and fairways are in great shape at the prime of the growing season especially if the region has had a lot of rain and sunshine through May, June and July.

Spruce Creek hole 5 rocks

Frank Morissette, who can consistently carve out a sub-40 round for nine holes and myself, a high handicapper happy to break 50 (for nine) set out from Thunder Bay to play four courses over a weekend with stops in Atikokan, Ontario, Fort Frances, Ontario and Morson, Ontario.

The goal on day one was ambitious to play nine holes in Atikokan and then 18 at Kitchen Creek in Fort Frances, so an early morning start is recommended to get in the 27 holes plus your drive time of four hours. However, if you are looking for a more leisurely pace plan to stay over night in Atikokan and then move on  to Fort Frances for another overnight and 18 holes on day 2.

Day 2 of our road trip saw us staying in Stratton at the family farm playing Spruce Creek in Morson, but you can find accommodations right on Lake of the Woods for a relaxing night's stay on the water.

 Spruce Creek trap rocks

The golf courses included Little Falls Golf Course in Atikokan, Heron Landing Golf Course on Couchiching First Nation just east of Fort Frances, the Kitchen Creek Golf Clublub on the western outskirts of Fort Frances, and the Spruce Creek Golf Course located in Morson, north of Sleeman off Highway 11.

All four courses were in great shape and the prices for green fees and cart were very reasonable for an enjoyable round of golf. And if you are in the Atikokan, Fort Frances, Morson area, it is a great way to connect with the outdoors for a weekend and or an extend stay during the summer especially if you are visiting family and friends.

Little Falls Golf Course - Atikokan

Little Falls putting hole9

The Little Falls Golf Course build during the height of mining era in the 1960s offers an unique, scenic, nine hole layout where players need to place their shots which in some cases means laying up with an iron and then hitting a long wood into the greens.

Little Falls walking hole4

The greens on some holes are smaller than what you may be use to, so it is wise to keep ball in front of the green on your approaches. The number four hole is a perfect example where you play to a landing before the creek and then shoot for the green with your second shot trying to avoid a deep ditch off to the left.

Little Falls scenic teeoff

The number seven tee off is a climb but offers this panoramic vista looking into the town of Atikokan. And right behind you on tee is scenic Little Falls, which is signature name for the course.

Little Falls scenic lookout

Kitchen Creek Golf Course - Fort Frances

Kitchen Creek club house

The 18-holes at Kitchen Creek are spread over a vast acreage of land out in the Township of Alberton about 8 kilometres east of Fort Frances with access to the clubhouse right off Highway 11. A golf cart is recommend as there are some long walks to some holes.

Kitchen Creek putting tracks

The greens were groomed and fast and fairways for the most part are wide open especially on the front nine. The back nine is a little more challenging in a more wooded area with some tight tree lined holes like this par 3 on where you definitley need to have control of your drive from the tee.

Kitchen Creek par3

There are some unique holes like #14, the par 4 that runs along the train tracks. You will hear the train approaching in the distance, so there are no surprises. And the tracks do separate a few holes, with one level crossing and underpass taking you under the tracks. The trains and track add to character of course.

 

Kitchen Creek train

The Fort Frances course at Kitchen Creek is a very mature layout built back in 1976. You are sure to enjoy your round with lounge, banquet facilities and pro shop for all your golfing needs. And yes sunsets even on an overcast evening, all in this beautiful setting of Ontario's Sunset Country.

Kitchen Creek sunset

Spruce Creek Golf Course - Morson, Ontario

spruce creek welcome

The Canadian Shield is very evident in the layout at Spruce Creek, this well groomed nine-hole track that is near the many resorts and summer camps up on Lake of the Woods near Morson, Ontario.

The big granite stone that says welcome speaks to topography that inspired the late Ken Pentney, a long time Morson resident, to bring in David Grant from Winnipeg back in 2007 to design a beautiful nine-hole course. The course was constructed in the middle of the wilderness of the Lake of the Woods Township where people have traveled for decades in the summer to come fishing, boating, cottaging or just to connect with waters of famed Lake of the Woods.

Spruce Creek hole 1 rocks

The par 4, opening 1st hole, and the par 4 5th hole showcase the outcrops of the picturesque Canadian Shield rock that frame your shots to large greens surrounded by strategically placed sand traps. The two holes afford the use of driver to wide open fairways but you will need well labelled second shots to hit the green in regulation. The greens are fairly large and on this day in great shape.

Spruce Creek putting clubhouse

The day we played Spruce Creek on the Saturday on the September long weekend, we had the feeling the feeling we were on our own private course. The remoteness of the course limits the number of people playing compared to what you find in a more urban setting. You can play at your own and not feel pressured which makes for a pleasurable outing for couples and those of us with higher handicaps.

Spruce Creek group of four

The Spruce Creek course offers stay and play packages for those looking to combine fishing or a vacation at lake to their summer holiday, so bring your golf clubs along for your next visit to the Morson area.

Heron Landing Golf Course - Couchiching First Nation

heron landing teeing off 10

Heron Landing has to rank among the top golf courses in Northwest Ontario. The championship 18-hole layout located on Couchiching First Nation minutes east of Fort Frances is carved in and around the water of Frog Creek that connects with its wetlands to Rainy Lake.

heron landing teeing off 12

Most tee-offs present picturesque views like #12 here where you drive over Canadian Shield rock into a backdrop of the forest changing colours. However, water is ever present through out the course providing the challenge low handicap golfers are looking for, while for the higher handicap player, it tests your skills to make good shots. 

heron landing john hole18

Heron Landing like most courses courses in Northwest Ontario are created in a  wilderness setting. That means wildlife like deer and yes, bears, like this one we encountered by the sand trap on #10, are present. Treat wildlife with respect and be aware of your surroundings when approaching your next shot. However, also take time to enjoy the moment. You are also sure to see eagles and hawks soaring above.

 

heron landing bear sandtrap

Heron Landing, aside from its challenging, scenic layout also has a full service pro shop and lounge to enhance your golfing experience. It is one of those courses you will want to play more than once. 

heron landing group on green

 

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