Pan back to August ‘99. A promising, but as of yet unheralded Canadian golfer named Mike Weir arrived at a new golf club named Le Diable in Mont Tremblant, Quebec for Canada’s entry in the skins series – the Telus Skins Game. He was looking to prove himself against three of golf’s biggest names: David Duval – at the time the world’s #1 golfer, John Daly – the ’95 British Open winner and reigning long drive champ and the venerable Freddie Couples – golf’s most popular player, fresh off his first Masters win. A tall order indeed, but Weir was intent on proving he belonged among golf’s elite.
Weir answered the bell that day and served notice that he was one of golf’s best new talents. He played well all day and then on the 16th hole he sank a clutch putt for birdie and 6 skins that led him to a win over these three talented opponents. The victory was just what Weir needed. It propelled him on to his first PGA Tour event later that year and then in 2003 he solidified his standing as one of golf’s best when he won his first major title at the Masters.
But Weir wasn’t the only star that day.
Tremblant’s impressive new Le Diable Golf Club really turned heads as well. Players and spectators alike raved about the course and its spectacular, yet tough layout. The popularity of its design proved not only that it was one of Canada’s best new golf courses, but it also served to put Mont Tremblant on the map as one of North America’s best new golf destinations. Indeed, a surprising turn of events for a place famous for its skiing and not necessarily for a summer sport like golf.
Tremblant’s golfing history began in the early nineties. Not long after resort conglomerate Intrawest purchased Tremblant in 1992, they started to make plans to include golf at the resort in a really big way. They tabbed top Canadian golf architect Thomas McBroom to build a resort course on a wonderful, hilly piece of land opposite the ski hill and the newly constructed Tremblant village. Le Geant opened in 1995 and served notice that Tremblant wasn’t going to be just a winter resort any more.
It opened to stellar reviews and impressed golfers with a combination of wide, sweeping fairways, strategically placed fairway bunkers and large undulating greens.
But most of all, it is distinctive as it makes wonderful use of the area’s changes in elevation. Le Geant boasts beautiful elevated tees (many with views of the Tremblant village and ski area) and dramatic plunging fairways. Two par-4s on Le Geant’s back nine are shining examples of this.
The short par-4 11th is a great risk-reward hole with a 90-degree dogleg left-to-right that tempts players to hit driver around the corner for a possible birdie try. It has players teeing off on a high tee box with the ski hill in full view making for a beautiful scenic vista.
The par-4 18th is a dynamite hole and fun way to end your round. Named top par-4 in Canada in 2003 by readers of ScoreGolf magazine, this hole features a fairway that plunges downhill more than 150 feet. Players that hit a good tee shot on this hole can expect some serious hang time, and if your lucky, a good roll all the way down the slope to the front edge of the green.
Then in 1998, Intrawest completed its second world-class championship golf course – Le Diable. But, this course was destined to be just a little different than what you would come to expect. Carved out a towering, red pine forest (part of an old local plantation), architects Michael Hurdzan and Dana Fry decided to use some of the unique characteristics of the area to create a course that would not only be visually appealing, but also to make it challenging for golfers of all levels.
Le Diable (the devil) has a look that is true to its devilish name, primarily because of its massive red waste bunkers. An ‘Arizone-style’ golf course transplanted into Tremblant’s hilly countryside, Hurdzan and Fry used the area’s distinctive red earth to give the course a desert feel with fairways and greens that are lined with deep, nicely-groomed waste bunkers. The native red pines provide a tall, towering backdrop on many of the holes, including the beautiful finishing hole, the par-5 18th.
The signature hole at Le Diable would have to be the par-4 15th, dubbed the ‘Gray Rocks’ hole in tribute to the legendary local ski resort that can be seen from the tee. The drops more than 150 feet down to a multi-level green protected by some deep green-side bunkers.
Not only did Le Diable star during Skins Game week, but it also played host to a high-profile golf match of a different type when Prime Minister Jean Chretien invited U.S. President Bill Clinton to play a round in 1999. The two world leaders were treated to a lovely afternoon on the closed-door course talking golf, politics and much more while they were flanked by more than 250 of Clinton’s secret service agents. Rumor has it that Chretien came out on top that day, but this event certainly seemed to solidify Le Diable’s position alongside some of Canada’s best new golf courses.
Another nice thing to note about both Tremblant golf courses is last year’s addition of portable, hand-held GPS units. Golfers can carry the cell-phone sized units with them to get laser-accurate yardages for all shots on the golf course. A great feature and when golfers are done with the GolfLogix GPS unit they just have to pop it back into its holder in the golf cart for use on the next hole.
The accolades for these courses continued with the recent ScoreGolf Top 100 Canadian Golf Courses list. It included both courses, with Le Geant scoring the #38 spot and Le Diable making the list at #67. If you are planning a trip to the area, they are definitely worth checking out.
Green fees are a little steep at around $100, but your fee does include use of a cart and the portable GPS yardage guides.
Reservations can be made at 888-857-8253 or access additional information on Le Geant or Le Diable Golf Clubs at www.tremblant.ca.