BY KEITH LACEY
Stone Ridge at Elliot Lake, the new 18-hole championship course, opened in late July.
Word is getting around about this gem as 70 percent of customers the first two months have come from Greater Sudbury, said head professional Brent Robinson.
Robinson, head professional for the past 13 years at the old Elliot Lake Golf Course, said residents have been anxiously awaiting for Stone Ridge to open. The course was built on much of the land where the old course was located. Planning to expand the course to 18 holes started about five years ago.
"We believe we have one of the nicest layouts and most scenic courses in all of Northern Ontario," the pro said.
On top of 18 fantastic holes of golf, there's also a top-notch driving range and practice green, a world-class clubhouse and some of the best food you will eat at any golf course around as renowned chef Jimmy Yee has been hired as the manager of food and beverage.
Course architect Ted Baker, who has designed some of the nicest courses in the country, has only enhanced his reputation by designing a course that offers everything a championship course should offer.
The course was built by Evans Golf, the number one builder of championship courses in Canada.
There's an abundance of mature trees, beautiful lakes and water hazards, and, as the name implies, a beautiful stone ridge overlooking several holes on the front nine.
"We wanted to do things right before we officially opened and I think we did that because the course is in terrific shape," said Robinson.
Because Elliot Lake has become a successful retirement community, the course was designed to appeal to senior golfers as well as low handicappers looking for a challenging golf experience, said Robinson.
The course plays very difficult from the back tees, measuring in at just over 6,800 yards. Middle handicappers will find the middle or blue tees more to their satisfaction at just over 6,100 yards and high handicappers can have a very enjoyable golf experience hitting from the front red tees (5,700 yards).
The course plays just over 5,000 yards from the women's tees.
"The course was built knowing our demographics and that Elliot Lake has become a retirement community," said Robinson.
"But we also wanted a golf course that would become a destination for the best golfers in northern Ontario. We've achieved that as it plays very tough for the scratch golfer and low handicapper from the back tees, but it's very senior friendly from the front and middle tees for the men and a fair test for our female members."
More than 200 members registered for the 2005 season and Robinson expects more than 300 regular members to join when the 2006 season gets underway next spring.
The price is right for a course of this calibre as a full membership costs under $1,100 and a weekday membership is under $800.
The golf course has hired 50 employees, most of them full-time and this has contributed nicely to Elliot Lake's economy.
"Having a terrific golf course is one thing many seniors demand in looking for a place to retire," he said.
Huron Pines in Blind River is a magnificent golf course, and the opening of Stone Ridge will make the area a golf tourist destination, said Robinson.
"We certainly want to encourage people to play both courses because they are both outstanding," he said.
Stone Ridge at Elliot Lake is situated just before the town limits at 71 Nordic Mine Road.
Phone 1-866-254-1281 to book a teeoff. For more information, visit the website at www.golfstoneridge.com