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Saturday, Feb. 4, 2006

Building golf courses in cottage country

Saturday, July 22, 2000
KEN BECKER
Canadian Press

McTier, Ont. -- A few years ago, Bruce Simmonds visualized the map of Canada and its most attractive golf-resort destinations.

"There was Whistler in B.C., Banff and Canmore in Alberta, Mont Tremblant in Quebec, Prince Edward Island and Cape Breton in the Maritimes, and I thought: 'What is wrong with this picture?' " says the founder and president of ClubLink Corp., which describes itself as the country's largest owner, operator and developer of premium golf courses.

What was wrong, he knew, was that population-rich and golf-crazed Ontario was a complete blank. While there are hundreds of quality courses in the province, most are concentrated in and around cities, not in the countryside.

At the time, in 1997, ClubLink had just opened the Lake Joseph Club, a stunning new golf course and resort set in the Canadian Shield, where the likes of Eric Lindros, Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell have been known to hang out.

But, adding one golf property to the venerable Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, Ont., would hardly lure the world's well-heeled golfers to the region generally referred to as Muskoka, "cottage country" or just "up north" to Torontonians.

So ClubLink went on a buying and building spree. It purchased two resorts -- Rocky Crest and the Sherwood Inn -- in this area near Parry Sound, Ont., and the historic Grandview Inn at Huntsville, outside Algonquin Provincial Park.

This spring, it opened the Rocky Crest Golf Club, a spectacular championship course designed by prolific Canadian architect Thomas McBroom, who also created the Lake Joseph layout. The 18-hole courses are cut out of pristine forests, dotted with streams, ponds and marshes, and bare the native bedrock to scenic advantage.

Next year, ClubLink will unveil the Grandview Golf Club, attached to its Huntsville property and designed by American PGA tour star Mark O'Meara, and begin construction on a companion 18 holes, designed by two other U.S. champions, Curtis Strange and Nancy Lopez.

With these four courses added to the two at Deerhurst, the region, about a two-hour drive north of Toronto, will have the variety of upscale accommodations and courses required to beckon golfers from across the country and around the world.

For more information: ClubLink resorts and courses, phone (800) 461-4454; Web site http://www.clublink.ca; Deerhurst Resort, (800) 461-4393 or (705) 789-6411; http://www.deerhurst.on.ca.

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