The Muskoka region has long since established its reputation as Ontario’s leading summer tourist region. Famous for its scenic lakes, deck chairs, classic wooden boats and stunning cottages, but not necessarily for its golf.
Well, all that has started to change. Over the past few years a collection of great new championship golf courses have appeared on the scene, and have made Muskoka into a pretty hot golf destination.
There is no better example of this trend than the stunning new Taboo Golf Club, located at the Taboo Resort, minutes north of Gravenhurst, Ontario. Designed by noted architect Ron Garl (Wooden Sticks, Maple Downs GCC), its layout stretches out to 7200 yards and is beautifully carved and routed through the rocky (Canadian Shield) landscape. The course certainly does a nice job of accentuating the beauty of its natural surroundings.
All in all you would be hard pressed finding a more interesting course design. Garl has done a wonderful job in exposing the local rocky terrain and using it as the visual focal point of the course. Then he has used a myriad of fairway bunkers that seem to accentuate the rolls of the land quite nicely. The long 563 yard 18th hole is a virtual minefield of rock, with a nicely tailored fairway winding its way to an uphill green (that is kind of deceptive to hit from the fairway below). Great finishing hole, challenging and well constructed. Just the scene itself at 18 is worth the price of admission any day of the week.
Two different par 3s, the 3rd and the 11th, play over a massive waste areas with steeply bunkered faces. Both are played from slightly elevated tees and really force you to hit a solidly struck shots to make the carry. We played the course the day after rain, so it was quite difficult to judge distances coming out of these Carolina-style waste bunkers.Another par 3, number 15 (pictured) plays between two massive granite shelves. If you hit the rocks on this hole, there is no telling where your ball would go!
Taboo also has a massive practice facility that includes a variety of short-game areas as well as a full range. They also seem to heap a pretty heavy dose of service on all its patrons.
Canadian PGA star Mike Weir calls Taboo his home course and can occasionally be seen prowling the fairways for a quick round. Weir may well find the club to be a real good luck charm, as he signed with Taboo just in advance of his stunning 2003 Masters victory.
As well, from the very eclectic clubhouse to the polished steel hole signs to the prehistoric-style Taboo golfer logo, the club does do a really good job of creating kind of a special feeling around the course. All of this contributes to a truly unique vibe at Taboo. It’s an interesting but welcome departure from the standard country club feel you get from most clubs these days.
On top of all that, brand new GPS-powered golf carts give a great level of insight with interactive hole maps and full yardage guides. Just pull the cart up next to your drive and it gives you the yardage that you need. (If you haven’t played with a GPS powered cart before, you’re in for a treat)
Taboo Golf Club is about 2 ½ hours from Toronto on Muskoka Beach Road and can be reached at 866-982-2669 or www.tabooresort.com. Green fees range from $155-195.