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Cobble Beach: Golf course a hidden gem on Ontario's Georgian Bay

By John Williams, Special to Postmedia Network

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Ontario golf fans, it's time to hit the beach. Cobble Beach, that is.

The picturesque 18-hole course, part of the Cobble Beach resort community, is located in Kemble, Ont. (minutes north of Owen Sound), and features over 7,000 yards of lush fairways and greens with strategic pin locations, many overlooking the Georgian Bay shoreline.

This nine-year-old hidden gem, ranked 17th in Canada by SCOREGolf magazine, will no doubt be a lure for those who usually flock to Muskoka for their links fix. Especially with golfers who enjoy a links-style course that is forgiving to those who can air it out with a big, straight drive, and a serious challenge for players who are a little shaky with their putters.

While I don’t consider myself a pro by any means, some of the holes, especially on the back nine, force you to think hard about risk-reward. Some of the best include the 12th, which shimmies around the aptly named Calamity Pond and is a killer for those who have a natural left-to-right hook. The temptation is to keep it as close to the water as possible to have a shorter second shot, but you know what the outcome could be – dead in the drink. Likewise with the similarly laid-out 16th hole, and the 17th, while a short par-3, is protected by several deep traps around the severely-sloped green, while the pin, on the day we played, was tucked away in the top left corner, making for a nerve-racking approach shot.

The finishing par-5 18th, which lines the Bay, offers a spectacular view, but don't gaze at it too long – you may end up in it.

And really, it's not all about golf at Cobble Beach. Once you're done your round, there are plenty of other options to choose from within the resort. Here are the highlights:

The Inn place to be: There are several spacious rooms within the resort for you to kick back and relax after the round. All 10 have their own special views of either the golf course or of Georgian Bay, and feature high ceilings, king-sized bed, and a deep tub and shower. Play and stay prices start at $135 per person and include the round of golf and breakfast buffet for two.

Cottages: Looking to take a group out for a sporty excursion? They also offer modern two-bedroom cottages that house six to eight people (you'll have to figure out who is little and big spoon) and come equipped with two washrooms, living room and a wet bar for those who want to get their drink on.

Hunger games: Whether you want to chow down on a signature Cobble burger in the Fireside Lounge or have a fancy meal in dining room or outside terrace, the Sweetwater restaurant chef will set you up big time. Make sure you try the steak – which was cooked to perfection.

Off the beaten path: For the adventurous types, there are several trails in and around the resort to hike and –when the snow starts falling – cross-country ski on. All have more of the same thing – prime water views, lush scenery and watch closely – some even have rock fossils dating back millions of years.

Play and stay… permanently: The 600-acre resort also has permanent residences for those who have the dollars to drop down on one of many different styled homes (which go for $379,900 and up) that overlook the golf course and the Bay. Who knows, you may get the urge to stay where you are after a round.

For more information, swing on over to www.cobblebeach.com.

jwilliams@postmedia.com