Fall golf at Blue Mountain's Monterra

Oct 16, 2017
By Steve Harron

I love playing golf in the fall. The temperatures are typically a little cooler, it’s not as crowded on the course and the fall colours amp up the scenic values.
One of the best places in Ontario for golfers to take in Mother Nature’s annual colour show is Blue Mountain Resort’s Monterra course. The ski hills and the beautiful pedestrian village at the base of the mountain form a stunning backdrop at this premium golf course, which was designed by Ontario Golf Hall of Fame member Thomas McBroom.
Opening in 1989, Monterra was one of McBroom’s first designs and it was ranked by ScoreGolf magazine as a top-50 course in Canada. For McBroom, it was the start of a career that would see him become one of Canada’s most successful golf course architects. In fact, only one designer has more courses in the top 100 in Canada and that’s the legendary Stanley Thompson.
McBroom’s Monterra design is a combination links and parkland style with lots of elevation changes, 86 bunkers, 7 ponds and numerous creeks and ravines. It’s definitely challenging but with five sets of tees and mostly generous fairways, it’s highly playable - a great thing for a resort course that sees a lot of traffic.

The yardage ranges from 4,257 from the front tees to 6,525 from the tips so you don’t need to be a big hitter to score well. It’s more of a shot-makers’ course where strategy is key. A good example of this is the third hole, a par-4 dogleg left that plays only 261 yards from the blue (middle) tees. You can go for it and try to land it near or on the green but keep in mind the fairway narrows considerably as you get closer to the green and a miss to the left will leave you in a deep valley or in a bunker beside the green. The prudent play is to hit an iron or hybrid that will leave you with your favourite distance for an approach to a green that sits just in front of the woods. It’s the ultimate risk-reward hole.
You’re faced with similar choices on the 7th hole - one of my favourites even though I dunked my tee ball in the pond. It plays only 327 yards from the blue tees but you have water down the right side (with my ball in it) and another pond about 260 yards out on the left side. There’s ample room to land your drive but it’s a little intimidating - at least for me - to be staring at that much water from the tee. But that same water adds to the overall beauty of this hole so I should really just get over myself and enjoy it.
Another one of my favourite holes is the 10th - a par three that plays about 118 yards from the blue tees. The tee is elevated and there is a deep valley between it and the green, which is two-tiered and protected by pot bunkers in front. Very scenic and very challenging.

Speaking of challenge, I should give you a little tip about the greens. If you take the time to warm up on the putting green you will notice it has some pretty dramatic slopes on it. My advice is to spend some time practicing your uphill, downhill and even sidehill lag putts because you will inevitably be faced with some interesting flat stick challenges on the course (nothing crazy but if you have a good feel for the pace on your putts you’ll have a better day).
Another course characteristic that adds to both the beauty and challenge is McBroom’s extensive use of mounding. These berms are typical of a links-style course but they also have a striking and somehow fitting resemblance - on some holes at least - to a mogul field that you would find on the adjacent ski hills during the winter months.
While there are strong holes throughout the course, I really enjoyed the home stretch, particularly the par-4 16th which heads back toward the mountain and the 18th, an uphill par-5 with a pond on the left that runs right up to the edge of the green, making for a testy approach shot. Both holes offer the impressive backdrop of the mountain and village.
We finished just before dark and after experiencing superb course conditions, lots of sunshine and only one quadruple bogey I had to rate it as a great day. And the great thing about golfing at Monterra is the fun doesn’t stop when the round is over.
The Blue Mountain Village is just steps away from the course so you can stroll over for dinner at a wide variety of restaurants. My favourite is the Greek restaurant, Tholos, which offers the added attraction of a belly dancer on Saturday nights and a wickedly-good baklava cheesecake that will make you forget all about that quadruple bogey.
Besides great dining options, the village offers such attractions as the Ridge Runner Mountain Coaster, ropes courses, a top-notch miniature golf course, open air gondola rides to the top of the mountain and segway tours.
And on most weekends during the golf season you can find a special event happening in the village. Everything from Salsa dancing to the Elvis Festival adds to the fun vibe of the village.
It’s an après golf experience that is hard to beat.