Canada’s best golf holes: Experts weigh in on par 3s

Recently I saw a posting claiming to list the best 18 holes in the world, a seemingly impossible and herculean task that is always going to have a vast number of detractors. It is like picking the top courses in the world—there is some general agreement on some, like Cypress Point, Augusta National, Pine Valley—but an equal amount of disagreement.

However, every post-round discussion amongst golfers eventually draws to the point where there’s a debate over the best holes of the day. Which holes got the blood pumping? Which do you want to run out and play again?

With that in mind I reached out to a group of like-minded and well-travelled colleagues to create a list of the best holes in Canada. Architects involved included Ian Andrew, Riley Johns, Keith Cutten and Jeff Mingay, and I asked fellow journalists Rick Young, Garry McKay, and Ted McIntyre to chime in. Finally I filled it out with PGA of Canada’s Jeff Dykeman, whose travels have taken him to many of Canada’s best, and John Wilczynski, who made have surpassed my reputation as the country’s greatest guest.

  • Robert Thompson

Here’s a list of the best holes in the country as determined by the panel:

Par 3s:

The 16th at Cabot Cliffs is one of the country's most visually stunning holes.

The 16th at Cabot Cliffs is one of the country’s most visually stunning holes.

16th, Cabot Cliffs (Robert Thompson, Riley Johns)

I remember looking at this hole when it was just a concept, before Bill Coore and his team made it a reality. Without question the most visually stunning hole created in Canada, I’d argue ever, the 16th isn’t nearly as hard as say the 16th at Cypress Point, and its unique green presents more shot opportunities than it initially appears. But if the wind blows out to the sea, good luck.

– Robert Thompson

Thompson's best? The fourth at Banff still captures the imagination of all who play it.

Thompson’s best? The fourth at Banff still captures the imagination of all who play it.

4th at Banff Springs (Ian Andrew, Ted McIntyre, Robert Thompson, Keith Cutten, Riley Johns, Garry McKay, Young)

The setting is pure Rocky Mountain Canadiana, from the elevated tee to the glacial lake that reflects the puffy white clouds above as much as it does the work of this country’s greatest golf architect.

– Ted McIntyre

The 9th at Jasper on opening day.

The 9th at Jasper on opening day.

9th at Jasper (John W., Garry McKay, Cutten)

With a great story backing the name, the par 3 – 9th hole at Jasper, known as Cleopatra, is also a great golf hole.  Playing severely downhill and surrounded by several intimidating bunkers, the hole begs golfers to fly the apparent trouble and aim for the flag.  However, stopping the ball with a long iron on this green is not easy.  The best play is to use a right-to-left running approach shot to navigate the fronting bunkers and find the green.

– Keith Cutten

Jasper 15

15th at Jasper Park (Dykeman, Andrew, Thompson)

A tough tiny angled green that dismisses all but the most accurate shot. Looks easy, plays very tough.

  • – Ian Andrew

With the wind coming off Lac Beauvert and rarely having the perfect yardage you want, it’s amazing how quickly that green seems to shrink in size as your ball falls down the embankments on each side. Case in point – during the 2012 PGA National Assistant’s Championship the hole played over par for the week but the champion Mike Belbin had a combined score of six for the week after going 2-2-2.

– Jeff Dykeman

Cliffhanger indeed: Looking from the green back to the tee at this incredible creation by Doug Carrick.

Cliffhanger indeed: Looking from the green back to the tee at this incredible creation by Doug Carrick.

6th at Greywolf (McIntyre, Johns, John W.)

They used to have these calendars of impossibly spectacular computer-generated golf holes. And then Doug Carrick found —a.k.a. Cliffhanger—in Panorama, B.C. that is actually better. – Ted McIntyre

Others that got recognition: 5th at Oakdale, 2nd at Scarboro, 6th at St. George’s, 8th at Victoria, 13th at Devil’s Paintbrush, 14th at Ovinbyrd. 

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

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