Ontario Golf magazine, for which I write quite frequently and very much respect, has named its best new course in its latest issue. Drum roll please ….. Ridge at Manitou. It was followed by Whitewater in Thunder Bay and Jason Straka’s Bond Head. I’m kind of surprised at the results, really. I would have thought Bond Head would have appealed to more on the small panel. But it hasn’t really been the hit that was expected, has it? For what it is worth, I think the course is very good, with an interesting mix of holes and only one or two real misses (#7 comes to mind). Still, it hasn’t hit home with the public and reportedly had a tough year in terms of conditioning. Not a good thing, especially when you are opening a second course next spring. The other thing that I found hysterical about the list was the number of people (who should know better) that listed food and service in their comments on the course. What does that have to do with a great golf experience? Isn’t that as ridiculous as saying, “the golf carts were absolutely wonderful and clean?” My good friend James McCarten comments on the Ridge at Manitou that, “the clubhouse is home to five-star service and cuisine,” while KPMG analyst Stephen Johnston says, “the service and overall ambiance were outstanding.” What do you expect from a club that has two dozen members? I want to hear more about the golf course. Where are its weakness — it did have some. Similarly, Kevin Holmes (a Toronto golf architect on the panel — suprising, since other architects have been told they can’t be on the panel) says about Bond Head: “Some of the club’s most endearing qualities, though, include great, great and absolutely superb food.” I was shocked to hear this from Kevin. I mean, I’ve played his Watsons Glen, which only has a trailer for a clubhouse, and I don’t recall telling him the course was good, but I couldn’t really give it the thumbs up because the food was crap. Maybe his comment was a way of saying he thought the golf at Bond Head was lousy. Interestingly, I would have placed Firerock much higher (it finished #4) and don’t understand all the bitching about the dogleg #10. “They need to blow up the blind, downhill, dogleg left 10th,” says Garry McKay, “and start again.” Hit a three wood down the middle, guys, if you are worried about cutting the corner. Apparently none in this group has ever played a dogleg or blind hole in their lives. Ugh.
Michelle Wie has turned pro and is reportedly getting $10-million in endorsement deals. She’s also being represented by the William Morris Agency, better know for backing actors than sports stars. But that’s the rub, isn’t it? Wie isn’t a star on the golf course – yet. She hasn’t won much of anything, though she’s awfully competitive. There was a lot of talk about her being a “spokeswoman” on the Golf Channel this morning. Maybe that’s where William Morris sees her fitting in — on the television, rather than on the fairway.
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.