I’ve been hanging on the sidelines as others discussed SCOREGolf’s biennial ratings of Canadian courses. The list is floating around several spots online after the magazine was sent out early by accident. Anyway, if you’re keen on seeing me talk about the list, I’ll be on TSN tomorrow at noon, alongside SCORE editor Bob Weeks and managing editor Jason Logan.
I’ll go through the entire list on Monday, but for now I’ll stick with the Top 10 with my comments below each course:
1 The National GC of Canada
2008 Ranking: 1
As I said when we taped Score’s TV special, I have a lot of respect for the National, but little love. It isn’t a challenge to make a golf course difficult — and the National is proof of that. Sure there are some great holes (#7, #11, #13), but the reworked 10th is just harder, not better, and the redesign of the 16th is just bad. I have a hard time seeing this as the best in the country — Golf Magazine doesn’t see it that way.
2 Hamilton G&CC – West, South
2008 Ranking: 2
I think you could make an argument that Hamilton is the best in the country. I wonder how good it could be with a bunker restoration and some investigation about the rebuilt greens. I doubt Hamilton will ever do anything about either — which will always make the course rest just outside the Top 100 in the world.
2008 Ranking: 3
Hard to fathom why this isn’t ahead of Hamilton. Challenge? At least Hamilton’s equal. Great par-4s? It outdoes Hamilton there. Perhaps Hamilton’s one-shot holes are stronger, but that’s about it.
4 Jasper Park Lodge GC
2008 Ranking: 5
I have no problem with Jasper’s position, though I do think it may have crept too high. It is a great course, but after revisiting Banff, I do have thoughts that Thompson’s second mountain design is actually the better all-around golf experience.
5 Banff Springs GC
2008 Ranking: 11
This one surprises me. People complain about Highland Links’ conditioning, but I was at Banff a couple of weeks ago and I would say there is little difference between the two in terms of maintenance. That said, Banff was in pretty solid condition — at least the greens — but there was so much sand in the bunkers that one might hide a body there. And the reworked routing is still awfully obtuse.
2008 Ranking: 4
Heading the wrong direction despite strides to resolve some of its turf issues. Where is the promised government restoration? This is, in my mind, the best design in the country. Now if only the other issues surrounding it could resolve itself, Highlands could once again sit atop this list.
7 Capilano G&CC
2008 Ranking: 7
A great golf course and a prestigious club. This seems like about the right spot for Capilano.
2008 Ranking: 6
I think David Main, the new GM at Beacon, is a great guy and the club has been proactive about inviting Score raters out. It is also always in great condition, so I appreciate that many will love it. But the course’s schizophrenic nines leaves me a little flat. And with the exception of #9, #12, and #16, where are the great holes?
9 Muskoka Bay Club
2008 Ranking: 26
This one is a head scratcher. A good course without doubt, but a great course? As I said in my review at the time, Muskoka Bay’s bunkering leaves the course feeling incomplete. There are great holes there — especially the run of #9 through #12 — but there’s a lot at Muskoka Bay that left me a bit flat.
10 Royal Montreal GC – Blue
2008 Ranking: 9
A great club — yes. A great course? Not even close. The Rees Jones’ renovation of the Blue course was a disaster and left the club with greens that are as natural as the CN Tower. I don’t actually think Royal Montreal’s Blue course was great prior to this — just another good club with a couple of solid, but unspectacular courses. How this moves up one spot from 2008 baffles me.
For the record, here is my Top 10 using Score’s rating system:
1. Highlands Links Golf Club
2. St. George’s Golf and Country Club
3. Hamilton Golf and Country Club
4. Sagebrush Golf & Sporting Club
5. Devil’s Paintbrush
6. Jasper Park Lodge Golf Course
7. Banff Springs Golf Club
8. Eagles Nest Golf Club
9. Blackhawk Golf Club
10. Capilano Golf and Country Club
I’ll go through the entire list on Monday, pointing out the interesting choices, the misses and those that should be on the list but aren’t.