Located on the edge of the Niagara Escarpment, the Hamilton area is a surprisingly hilly and diverse terrain; so much so that there is a local landmark called Hamilton Mountain, though residents of the Rockies or Alps would likely blush at that moniker. But certainly there is more than enough rugged ground and when combined with Lake Ontario that is never far away in these parts, some impressive natural beauty is just outside of town. And for all the talk of steel-making and smokestacks -- they still billow away at all hours -- Hamilton proper has many charms as well. No less of figure than Jim Furyk sang the praises of the city when he won the Canadian Open at Hamilton Golf & Country Club in 2006 (the Harry Colt classic is a beauty but as private as Queen Elizabeth's diary).
With Hamilton playing such a central role in the early development of what was then Upper Canada, much of the landmarks from that colonial era have been preserved, highlighted by Dundurn Castle, the seat of the pre-Confederation government. More recently, the city has done an impressive job of welcoming artsy-types away from Toronto but its century-old Art Gallery of Hamilton is one of the biggest in Canada.
The city's identity has long been tied to the Tiger-Cats, the Canadian Football League franchise that is still clawing away, though its popularity has dipped in the past 20 years. The CFL Hall of Fame is also located in Hamilton and the city was the site of the first British Empire Games in 1930, the forerunner to the Commonwealth Games, which at the time once rivaled the Olympics in scope. It's also a co-host for the 2015 Pan Am Games. Hamilton will almost certainly never get its dreamt-about NHL team given the geographical proximity to two other franchises (Buffalo and Toronto) but the American Hockey League's Bulldogs, the top minor-league affiliate of the fabled Montreal Canadiens, are traditionally one of the top AHL clubs.
Golf-wise, Hamilton is an outstanding area to get your groove on. King's Forest Golf Course and Chedoke could be the best municipally owned one-two punch in the province of Ontario. Copetown Woods Golf Club and Dragon's Fire Golf Club are two other high-end golf experiences that are more than worth a go and a short drive from the city.
Dragon's Fire Golf Club in Carlisle, Ontario is only about 40 minutes from Toronto proper, and much like the course itself, the journey to get there is winding and scenic. But the golf course is worth the short, if circuitous, drive. In all, 92 percent of reviewers on GolfNow would recommend it, and the club also got high marks for staff friendliness.
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