SCOREGolf unveiled their Top 100 Courses in Canada on TSN on Saturday, but don’t be heading to your local club in hope of picking up a copy of the magazine. This year the publication is only available on newsstands — and I’m not sure if the magazine is putting content up online. There are a couple of places online that have complete list up — but that’s only a small part of the magazine, which includes a short write-up on each course (longer for the Top 10) and a fine article on Stanley Thompson by yours truly.
Anyway, instead of posting the list, I’m going to concentrate on the hits and misses, those that are getting too much love and those which will feel the need to seek therapy after being spurned by course raters.
Overall I don’t have too much of a difficulty with the list — even if the opinions of the raters don’t exactly match my own. I think modern courses (those built after 1960) get too much love, and that mountain courses like those is Whistler are vastly overrated. In fact, any course set near mountains seems to get a big boost.
What is missing from the list? There are obvious ones — like Twin Rivers in Newfoundland, Chateau Montebello and Royal Ottawa in Quebec, and Kawartha in Ontario. Those are probably the biggest oversights.
Interesting to see the debate at SCOREGolf.com centers on, once again, why the Top 10 is dominated by Ontario courses. Probably because Ontario is where a majority of the course are. But I’ve always wondered what the thought process on this accusation is. Do people really think someone goes to a B.C. course and says, “Man, this would be great if only it were in Toronto?” I somehow doubt it.
For the record, I’ve played the entire list minus a couple — both of which are in Edmonton (Northern Bear and Royal Mayfair).
With that, here’s my take:
1The National GC of Canada
10Royal Montreal GC – Blue
30 Kananaskis Country – Mt. Kidd
31 Georgian Bay Club
I know it is No. 1, so by definition some are going to think it is overrated. I’m among those that feel the National is one-dimensional. A very good golf course, without doubt, but what do people always talk about when discussing The National — that it is so hard. And it is easy to make a course hard — just look at Lionhead. Making a course interesting is another deal altogether.
The fact Royal Montreal’s Blue Course is so high is confounding. The work done by Rees Jones’ firm is largely awful, and the person responsible for signing off and shaping the new greens should not be allowed to touch another putting surface for the remainder of their life. I think this is an example of raters confusing a great club with a great course.
Taboo? What can I say. Not great nor bad — just a better than average course by Ron Garl. No. 23 in Canada? Forget it.
Kananaskis — Mt. Kidd. Has there ever been a more underwhelming golf course that is completel overwhelmed by its setting? Flat, pedestrian golf with great vistas.
Glencoe — Glencoe is flat and dull, but without the vistas. Doesn’t it say something that Stephen Ames, a Calgary resident, regularly says this course doesn’t have the stuff to hold a Canadian Open? It should be the prominent course in Calgary — but it is Flordia-flat and uninteresting.
11 Devil’s Paintbrush
38 Humber Valley
64 St. Thomas
Devil’s Paintbrush cracked the Top 10 for a little bit and now drops out. This is a fascinating course, with tons of options and ways to play it. I wouldn’t be uncomfortable if it were 10 spots higher.
Greywolf — sure it opens with 3 decidedly average holes, but after that it is a Doug Carrick mountain course that measures up to the scenery. Speaking of Carrick, how can the majestic Humber Valley be at 38? The receivership of the property must have something to do with it, though I thought course raters measured golf and not financing. Are they a bond rating agency now? If so, I give this course a Triple-A rating.
Scarboro’s renovation makes it a solid, more interesting course. It should be 25 spots higher if just for the remarkable 7th hole. And has anyone ever said an unkind word about St. Thomas G &CC? Great golf in an out-0f-the-way setting. Cataraqui added an awful pond to a hole on the back nine, but its continued decline confounds me.
This list shows the courses that moved up or down the list. I’d say the two big movers — Muskoka Bay, up 18 spots, and Coppinwood, up 13 spots, have gone too high. Coppinwood certainly benefited from the move of GM Kevin Thistle to the club. Thistle is much more media-friendly than previous management. Muskoka Bay, on the other hand, seems to get an inexplicable amount of love. Why? Can’t rightly say. It is a good golf course — but a great one? I think this course, like Rocky Crest before it, will decline over time. Nice to see Cobble Beach, which had issues with turf in its early going, jump up the list.
8Muskoka Bay Club (up 18 spots)
15 Coppinwood (up 13 spots)
18 Oviinbyrd (up 11 spots)
25 Blackhawk GC (down 10 spots)
26 Royal Colwood (down 10 spots)
29 Glen Abbey GC (down 10 spots)
34 Redtail GC (down 10 spots)
38 Humber Valley GC – River (down 13 spots)
44 Le Geant (down 13 spots)
52 Cobble Beach Golf Links (up 14 spots)
56 Nicklaus North GC (down 10 spots)
61 London Hunt and CC (up 10 spots)
62 Salmon Arm GC (down 13 spots)
64 St. Thomas (down 12 spots)
68 Heritage Pointe – Desert, Heritage (up 10)
70 Deer Ridge GC (down 13)
76 Wooden Sticks GC (down 15)
78 Marine Drive GC (down 14)
79 Summit G&CC (down 11)
82 Black Bear Ridge GC (down 10)
87 Royal Mayfair GC (down 12)
90 Burlington G&CC (not on list last time)
91 Cataraqui G&CC (down 11)
93 Radium Resort – Springs (down 10)
I’m very fond of both Sagebrush and Tobiano — though I think the pair are reversed in the great scheme of things. I’m tremendously thrilled to see Tarandowah on the list — this is a low-budget course that deserves the love it is getting and should be at least 30 spots higher on this list.
95 Tarandowah Golfers Club
96 King’s Forest GC
92 Northern Bear GC