Top 100 courses trip planner: The ultimate Canadian golf road trip

You'd be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful setting for a public golf course than Banff Springs in Canada.

Jacob Sjoman

Golf can be seriously private, but GOLF’s list of Top 100 Courses You Can Play is not. This year, our expert group of course raters sat down with a simple goal: to build a list of the greatest courses you (yes, you) can tee it up at in a moment’s notice. The end result is list as varied as the courses it encompasses, from Bandon Dunes to Bethpage Black.

But why keep the memories to just one of our 100 greatest tracks? Whether it’s by way of a classic point-A-to-B-to-C road trip, a stay at an iconic resort (with or without side trips) or a stopover in the concrete jungle, knocking three or more Top 100 Courses You Can Play off your wish list is doable in one fell swing. Start packing.


banff springs alberta
Banff Springs in all its glory. Jacob Sjoman

Road Trip The Canadian Rockies

Courses in GOLF’s Top 100: Banff Springs (#17; Banff, Alberta), Jasper Park Lodge (#24; Jasper, Alberta), Blackhawk (#94; Spruce Grove, Alberta)

Drive: Blackhawk, just south of Edmonton, is about four hours from Banff Springs, west of Calgary; Jasper Park is another 3.5 hours northwest of Banff Springs.

Dine: Enjoy a beer and schnitzel on the patio of the Bavarian lodge that houses Waldhaus Restaurant, right next to Banff ’s 15th tee box. You can watch golfers hit drives across the Spray River to the fairway 100 feet below.

Diversion: With all manner of hiking trails from right outside the Fairmont hotel, Banff National Park is incomparable—as is the journey between Banff and Jasper on the Columbia Ice Fields Highway, one of the world’s most spectacular drives thanks to its many glacier lakes and plentiful wildlife. Aquatic types should raft the Bow River in Banff and kayak or canoe around Beauvert Lake in Jasper.

Detour: Great views, great people, great food and darn good golf at a very reasonable price can be found at Canmore Golf & Country Club, in the eponymous town adjacent to Banff.

jasper park lodge
Canada’ brilliant Jasper Park Lodge is a must-stop destination in the Canadian Rockies. Brian Oar

Road Trip to Cabot Resort

Courses in GOLF’s Top 100: Cabot Cliffs (#4), Cabot Links (#12), Cape Breton Highland Links (#28; Ingonish Beach, Nova Scotia)

Drive: The lodging at Cabot will be your home base, but the trek to Highland Links is a doable 2:15, much of it on the Cabot Trail, perhaps Canada’s closest thing to driving along Big Sur.

Dine: The food is as good as the traditional folk music at The Red Shoe Pub in Mabou, a half hour from Cabot.

Cabot Cliffs
Cabot Cliffs is, in a word, stunning. Brian Oar

Diversion: Nova Scotia translates to “New Scotland,” making the Glenora Distillery, 15 minutes from Cabot, quite apropos. The fascinating Louisbourg, two hours east of Cabot, is Canada’s Colonial Williamsburg.

Detour: It’s about an hour out of the way to or from the Halifax airport, but nine-hole Parrsboro Golf Club isn’t just adorable (with an apple tree situated on the final green), it overlooks the amazing Bay of Fundy, with its famously enormous tidal range.

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A former executive editor of GOLF Maga­zine, Rothman is now a remote contract freelancer. His primary role centers around custom publishing, which en­tails writing, editing and procuring client approval on travel advertorial sections. Since 2016, he has also written, pseudonymously, the popular “Rules Guy” monthly column, and often pens the recurring “How It Works” page. Rothman’s freelance work for both GOLF and runs the gamut from equipment, instruc­tion, travel and feature-writing, to editing major-championship previews and service packages.