Belleville, Bay of Quinte and Wine??? Maybe next time!

Living in the Greater Toronto area for most of my life, I have driven past the Belleville and the Bay of Quinte area on countless occasions on jaunts to and from Ottawa and Montreal. I had heard that there was some pretty good golf in the area, most had popped up during golf’s hay day. Pretty much every time I passed the area, like a broken record, I would always repeat to myself – I should make the time to check out these courses I kept getting rave reviews about. I never had an excuse and frankly no one ever gave me an excuse. Now I have an excuse, and now I am sooo disappointed that it took me so long to make a visit to the area. Maybe taking some liberties from the political pandemic, even before restrictions were eased – no, not me! – my best buddy Brian and I had ventured out on some trout fishing excursions up here in the Collingwood area. He had, just a few months prior taken a Plant Manager position in the automotive field, and it just so happened to be in Belleville.  As soon as the golf restrictions were eased – game on, I was heading to Eastern Ontario. Even though bars and restaurants were not permitted on the “things to do” list, I could see that the infrastructure for a good time getaway was here, Golf or otherwise.
Did you know that the region boasts some 40 wineries?  It is one of the top fishing regions in the province, Sandbanks Provincial Park is just what it sounds like, and for watersport enthusiasts, it’s a place to die for. With golf the only thing we could do, we did just that.  First up, not only one of the best courses in the region but according to Golf Digest one of the Best in the Canada. Black Bear Ridge Golf Club can be described as a private club experience at a public course cost, maybe even below.  Black Bear’s CPGA Pro Bill Kerr said, “we get members of private clubs from Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa here on a regular basis, they are amazed at the value.” This is no walk in the park course. This is a golfer’s golf course. If you hit it sideways, can’t break 100 on your home course, I suggest bringing lots of balls, a sense of humour and your camera. Many of you know that I am a Bear lover and there is plenty of bear stuff in the Pro Shop, I think I was about $150 lighter before I even teed off! Elevation changes provide some pretty awesome visuals, get used to the tree lined fairways as you have them pretty much from start to finish. You can’t help but notice the stonework throughout either. The greens are a fair size all the way around, smooth and slick with the undulating terrain adding to the effect. Check the card before choosing your tees. If you regularly play the blues at about 6,500 yards consider moving up. Guaranteed the hole that you will remember most will be the par 5, 11th stretching back to 628 yards from the tips – par 6 maybe. Water follows you all along the right side. 588 was our yardage from the blues, and 2 pars were had!  http://www.blackbearridge.ca Golf Digest said it was one of the best in Canada – I concur!!!
Pretty much right next door to Black Bear is another outstanding track, Trillium Wood Golf Club giving you a dynamic 1 – 2 punch should you care to make the trek to Belleville!  Believe me it is worth it! Club President Stephen McCurdy describe it as the local’s favourite. A combination modern-day parkland and links style layout, with its own set of wow factor visuals.  Definitely could be described as more playable for the average golfer – especially after a round at Black Bear. We were fortunate enough to be paired with a couple of locals for our round and they certainly agreed with Stephen. Both were excited to have the opportunity to play Black Bear but both preferred the format there to be a scramble!
Trillium Wood is another camera worthy track! Fairways are forgiving off the tee, and dotted with strategically placed ponds and bunkers. Greens are large and welcoming although things do tighten up on the approach, mature oaks and pines welcome and stray balls – so you are not out of the woods just yet! The course has four sets of tees and plays between 4,900 and 6,700 yards. Blue tees are only 6,200 yards which is where we played from this early in the season. Might just be enough for me any time. I don’t think I would be totally intimidated to move to the back. That is what I call playable!  If Blue tees are not enough for you, tip it up from the back, even a scratch golfer will have as much as he or she may want to handle.  www.trilliumwood.com To put into my perspective – I would not even think of playing Black Bear from the tips!
What I am thinking of though, is a return visit to Belleville, Bay of Quinte and next time adding in some wineries of Prince Edward County. 40 some odd wineries and apparently Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are the headliners. My buddy Brian is a keen fisherman, so I can see this being somewhat of a long, maybe a real long, weekend. https://www.visitpec.ca You see, just about 20 minutes east of Belleville, in Brighton is another hidden gem which I have yet to set foot on, Timber Ridge Golf Club and that needs to change.  Accolades include Top 100 in Ontario; Top 50 you can play and Peoples Choice – Ontario Top 50!  I will check it out, you should too!  http://www.timberridgegolf.net Two more historic courses lie almost in Brian’s backyard and will almost certainly be warranting a visit.
Picton Golf & Country Club is a challenging and enjoyable 18-hole, par 72 Championship Course. Established in 1907, the Club is one of the oldest golf facilities in Ontario and has been described as a hidden gem and one of the best kept secrets in Ontario golfing circles.  https://www.pictongolf.ca Bay of Quinte Golf & Country Club est. 1921 is a semi private parkland style course, home to members for almost a century and a welcome stop for traveling golfers.  Another hidden gem and great bang for the buck. https://bayofquintegolf.com Sooo… I’m looking forward to a revisit to a place that I had neglected for far too long!  Who would have thought?! To play Belleville’s dynamic duo of Black Bear Ridge and Trillium Wood a collection of hotels under the Williams Hotels umbrella might be your best option for Stay & Play packages in the area.   http://www.williamshotels.ca/properties The Best Western will be $107-129 per person, the Towneplace Marriott will be about $135-169 per person based on double occupancy. Best to check with the respective properties to customize your visit. For more information on the Bay of Quinte Region https://bayofquinte.ca/tourism
By: Claudio DeMarchi www.TravelingGolfer.net