Scuplted fine white sand bunkers are part of the signature of
the Whitewater Golf Club in Thunder Bay, Ontario
Whitewater Golf Course Review
Dan and I played Whitewater Golf Club in late September 2011 on a sunny, comfortable day in the mid-sixties. Many rate this as the top golf course in the Thunder Bay area. Dan, who has played other top courses in the area, agrees. This was my first experience golfing in Ontario, but I would rank this course among the more enjoyable courses around Lake Superior. Its scenery is not as dramatic as Marquette's Greywalls, Superior National, or Apostle Highlands in Bayfield. Few serious elevation changes and no views of Lake Superior even though it is at a higher elevation. The course layout is attractive with a number of contoured white sand bunkers in the fairway and around the greens. The bunkers ad challenge but they are a fair challenge. The bunkers generally guard the shortest route to the pin, whether that be in the fairway or around the green, but there is always a safer alternative if you don't want to risk clearing the bunkers. In general the layout reminded me of the holes on top of the ridge at Wild Bluff Golf Course in Brimley, Michigan. Another similarity with Wild Bluff were the carts - deluxe smooth running electric jobs with on-board ball and club washers and a collapsable awning that covers your clubs in the event of rain. The course is long, running 6300 yards from the white tees (slope rating 132), 6792 from the blue tees (slope rating 137) and 7293 from the gold (slope 138). While such a course length is a stretch for me, I didn't feel especially handicapped. Just something about the layout gives a shorter hitter a chance even with the extra length.
The fairways and greens were in excellent condition and maintenance in general was good. Fully paved cart paths in good shape and good directional signs from one hole to the next. Nicely executed graphics at the tee box showing the layout of each hole. My only complaint was the score card itself didn't also show a graphic of the layout of each hole. I'd also like to see more evident yardage markers (100, 150, 200) from the green. They were hard to find and slowed up play.
The club house is very nice. An expansive deck looks out over the valley. Well stocked pro-shop, especially on apparel if that is your interest. Food and beverage service includes a full bar, a casual lounge area with a sandwich menu, and a formal dining room with a full supper club menu. There's a putting green near the club house but the full practice facility, driving range and chipping greens, are located a few blocks away but reachable via a paved cart path. They also host a golf academy.
Rate-wise, Whitewater Golf Course is a little more pricey than comparable courses around Lake Superior. Their fall rate for green fee and cart was $73 whereas we were paying $54 (senior rate) at Superior National (a comparable quality course) in Lutsen, Minnesota. But part of that difference might be Canadian prices in general. Overall a good quality course and enjoyable to play but because of the higher relative price I'd only rate it as a fair value vs. a good value. But if you are in Thunder Bay and want to play the top course in the area, this is it. The municipal course, Strathcona, has a much friendlier price structure and I've heard it is a nice course, but we haven't had a chance to play it.
Golf Course Review Rating Card
Whitewater Golf Course, Thunder Bay, Ontario
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