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olfers have a lot more in common than not when it comes to what we like in a golf course. Generally, the majority of us look for beautiful scenery, great conditioning and a golf course that can challenge our games — Oak Bay Golf & Country Club has those in spades.

Located on the east side of Georgian Bay in Port Severn, or what many call the gateway to Ontario cottage country, Oak Bay has a very strong Muskoka feel. Playing over rock outcroppings and along the Bay itself, it’s also closer to the city than most Muskoka golf courses. On an average day, Oak Bay can be reached in just over an hour from the Toronto boundary.

One of the biggest differences between Oak Bay and other Muskoka courses that are 20-30 minutes further away is that Oak Bay carries one of the most affordable green fees in the region. Maxing out around the $80 range with a cart in peak time (and we do suggest you take a golf cart…the layout here is very spread out), you can play two or three rounds at Oak Bay for the price of one green fee at most of the bigger names in the region. But half the green fee doesn’t mean half the experience, it’s actually quite the opposite.

FRONT NINE GALLERY

The course maxes out at just over 6,500 yards and a par of 72, but those will be some of the most challenging 6,500 yards you’ll find. Its tree-lined fairways and forced carries over natural wetlands — easily managed if playing the correct tees — demand accuracy to start, but nothing that shouldn’t be expected from a golf course in the heavily forested Muskoka region.

Into most greens golfers will be happy to find open fronts and limited forced carries, and while the surfaces themselves are small, they are also fairly tame. That said, there are significant nuances that will have first time visitors wondering why they didn’t make as many putts as they might expect. A tip from head pro Jason Bennett will help. He said, especially on the front nine which plays on higher ground, there is a lake effect with putts breaking towards the water.

One of the few forced carries into a green at Oak Bay is one of Canada’s most unique and challenging par-3s at the 15th hole. Pictures fail to do it justice but this hole is worth the green fee alone. When you reach this corner of the golf course you’ll find a marshy inlet of Georgian Bay between you and a green set high atop a rock face that looks like something out of a sci-fi film. It’s 200 yards uphill to the green from the back tee and I know all golfers will love the thrill of conquering the forced carry multiple times with both their golf ball and their cameras.

BACK NINE GALLERY

The story remains the same for the holes that came previous and lie ahead. The par-3s are as strong a collection as you will find in Southern Ontario, conditions are second to none with greens that roll both true and quick, there are drivable par-4s and reachable par-5s, gorgeous lake views and bold rock outcroppings. Now, just three weeks old, there’s also a brilliant new clubhouse with great food.

So if you’re like most golfers on the lookout for a golf course with beautiful scenery, great conditions and a challenge to your game, look no further than Oak Bay the next time you head up to Ontario cottage country. It doesn’t hurt it’s also one of the best values in Canada and not even two minutes off the highway.

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