June 4-6, 2013
I received an invite to visit Cobble Beach Golf Links while visiting the Toronto Golf Show in early March of this year. Since the drive to Cobble Beach is about 6 1/2 hours from home I wasn't about to make the journey, play one round of golf, and return home. I explored other golf courses in the area and set plans to stay in Owen Sound for a few days.
Owen Sound, with a population of 22,000, is located at the mouths of the Pottawatomi and Sydenham Rivers on an inlet of Georgian Bay named Owen Sound. The Georgian Bay area is a popular vacationing area with great beaches, scenic vistas, hiking, and of course, golf.
Golf: There are three courses located within the City limits of Owen Sound: Stone Tree Golf Course, Legacy Ridge Golf Club, and Scenic City Golf Course. Just northwest of Owen Sound is Cobble Beach Golf Links, a beautiful track that was the main reason for Golf in Canada to visit the area. Cobble Beach easily ranks as a Top 100 Golf Course in Canada.
Stone Tree and Legacy Ridge have the same owner and some reciprocal playing privileges are offered for members. The original 9 holes at Legacy Ridge was designed by Stanley Thompson but in 1975 the course expanded to 18 holes. Over the years the course has undergone a number of changes and perhaps two of Thompson's original design remain. Stone Tree is a much flatter course and doesn't offer quite the same challenge as Legacy Ridge (in my opinion) but is a much easier walk. Both courses are worthy plays.
Cobble Beach has a spectacular layout overlooking the Georgian Bay. This is one course that is worth the trip to Owen Sound alone. Other courses in the area that were recommended to me were: The Mad River Golf Club, The Georgian Bay Club, Osler Brook Golf & Country Club, and The Raven Golf Club at Lora Bay. Only the later course is public and some of these courses will require a drive of up to an hour or more.
Links to more detailed reviews of the Owen Sound courses mentioned can be found at the bottom of this page.
Accommodations: We had the pleasure of staying our first evening in one of the cabins at Cobble Beach Golf Links. The cabins are new for 2013 and should attract groups of golfers to the course for a friendly competition while staying on-site in great accommodations. Also available at Cobble Beach is a 10-room boutique style Inn. The rooms at the Inn are supposed to be quite spectacular and we were unable to see inside as all rooms were booked. Owen Sound offers many of the standard chains of motels.
Food: For our first night of dining we ate at the Sweetwater Restaurant located at the Cobble Beach Golf Links. We were fortunate to get one of the remaining dinner reservation times and this was on a Monday night. The food at the Sweetwater Restaurant is excellent and is one of the better fine dining restaurants in the area.
When hockey is on we often look up a sport's bar for the evening. Shorty's Grill is a family run business that offered a dining side and a bar side to their establishment. The bar side had a number of TV sets while the dining area did not. Shorty's had a very broad menu ranging from steak, seafood, pasta and ribs. You can also choose from a wide range of healthy-sized burgers. There's something for everyone here.
For something a little more unique, try the Rocky Raccoon Cafe! This place was a delight. Chef Robin Pradhan uses mostly local Owen Sound food sources to create his menu and his restaurant will be my first stop if I ever need a meal in the Owen Sound area. If you can't find anything on the menu simply let Robin know and he can probably whip something up to your liking. The Rocky Raccoon Cafe is also the home to thousands of salt and pepper shakers. Robin started collecting when he was offered a collection by a customer. He now has over 4,000 sets and is striving for the Guinness record.
Attractions: The Tom Thomson Art Gallery is probably the most visited Owen Sound attraction. The Gallery has a great selection of souvenirs and the history of Tom Thomson's life is portrayed through art and video.
One of the city's most famous sons was World War I flying ace and Victoria Cross winner William Avery "Billy" Bishop, Canada's leading pilot in the war. Bishop is also one of the few to have tangled with the Red Baron and survived, forcing the German pilot to retreat in a damaged aircraft. His boyhood home is now a museum dedicated to his life and to Canada's aviation history (Billy Bishop Home & Museum).
Owen Sound is also the home to the Owen Sound Attack; a hockey team in the Ontario Hockey League.