In terms of a pure golf experience, one that optimizes the beauty of The Great Waterway, one needs to look no further than Smuggler’s Glen Golf Course.
Located in Ivy Lea, in the heart of the 1000 Islands, Smuggler’s was nominated for the Best New Course in Canada by Golf Digest in 2006, and played host to the inaugural Great Waterway Classic on the Canadian Tour in 2012.
The golf course prides itself on it’s immaculate conditioning, tight fairways, and beautiful panoramic visuals. It’s a shot-makers golf course, but it’s not overly long, making it a perfect place for families or a group of guys on a trip together.
Golfers face multiple risk/reward scenarios throughout the Boyd Barr design. It maxes out at 6,572 yards from the back tees, and Barr built the golf course through the naturally occurring Canadian Shield landscape he had at his disposal.
“It’s like going to a park,” explains Doug Wark, the PGA Head Professional and Director of Sales and Marketing at Smuggler’s Glen GC.
“Guests come down the (1000 Islands) Parkway, and you can see the river, the islands, and it just slows you down. There’s no trains, no houses. You’ve got this tranquility, and you’re in the pure beauty of the area.”
Given the almost private nature of Smuggler’s Glen, one could even classify it as a hidden gem.
The Canadian Tour looked beyond that fact, and recognized the pure golfing experience that was offered by Smuggler’s Glen, when it was chosen as the inaugural host of The Great Waterway Classic in 2012.
“It was a great event in terms of the player’s feedback. They really enjoyed the facility and how everything was so convenient. There were some great comments on our practice facility – we just opened a new putting green a month prior to the tournament – and our driving range was new. They enjoyed the layout, and they liked the conditions,” says Wark about the professional’s reactions last year.
Smuggler’s, though, is no stranger to hosting elite events filled with elite players. For the last five seasons it’s been host to the Flagstick Golf Magazine Amateur Shootout, one of the premier amateur tournaments in Eastern Ontario.
“The Flagstick guys have really championed that tournament, and have attracted most of the top players in the area who say they love (the course),” says Wark.
One of those ‘Flagstick guys’ is editorial director Scott Macleod.
“It’s a great facility,” says Macleod about Smuggler’s Glen. “The players are attracted to the golf course, and have come to expect it is always in great shape. The greens are always in great shape. Players at this level have certain expectations for a golf course, and Smuggler’s always exceeds them.”
There is a ton of stand out holes at Smuggler’s Glen, but for me, the highlight is the par-4 12th, aptly named The Gambler because of its short length. It measures only 259 yards from the back tee, but it teases golfers to try to go for the green with his or her tee shot. There is an intimidating pond right in front of the teeing area – which shouldn’t be in play physically, but is definitely mentally – and the big rock formations on both sides of the fairway usually deters most from going for it.
It’s all a part of the experience at Smuggler’s Glen, and in The Great Waterway.
“Golf is entertainment at the end of the day, and people spend their entertainment dollars and they choose to play golf,” says Wark.
“They can golf wherever they want, but when they come to play Smuggler’s Glen, it’s a pure experience.”