There’s been heightened speculation (and a few rumours from people in the know that it is in fact true) that when the January issue of Golf Digest hits news stands in coming days, it will announce that Eagles Nest, Doug Carrick’s fantastic design north of Toronto, will be awarded best new course in Canada.
Anything else would just be wrong, in my estimation. The competition, which includes the Dakota Dunes, a Graham Cooke design, and Jason Straka’s fine private Georgian Bay Club, apparently put up a good battle, but Eagles Nest ultimately took the award.
In the past 20 years, some great golf courses have opened in Canada. Surely Tom McBroom’s Rocky Crest, and Carrick’s Bigwin Island, were both tremendous golf courses. Similarly Dana Fry’s Devil’s Paintbrush is among the best ever to be constructed in this country.
Eagles Nest rests comfortably within that group, and possibly eclipses all of them. Built next to a landfill in Maple, Ont., Eagles Nest is Carrick’s attempt to create a faux links on a property that is excellent in spots and marginal in others. The drama of the third hole, which continues to the ninth, is created by a remarkable piece of property that falls, rolls through a spot of forest and emerges back on the top of the hill where it began. Surprisingly, the back nine, which is built on a less interesting piece of ground, is arguably even more impressive.
In order to create drama, Carrick imported tons of fill to build massive rolling dunes that separate the holes. Golfers regularly hit from elevated tee blocks, and Carrick asks players to think before they blast away (take 10, 11, 14 as examples).
Sure the bunkering styles are mixed and some of the so-called “blowout” bunkers look artificial, but Eagles Nest is great fun to play and a tremendous aesthetic treat. If it has won Best New, as many expected, it is fully deserving of it. After all, some have argued, including Lorne Rubenstein, that the course is the best to open in Canada in several years. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see….
- If you are interested in reading about an American course that may be the most anticipated in some time, check out Golf Digest’s article on Sebonak, Jack Nicklaus’ co-creation with Pacific Dunes creator Tom Doak. Why is it so hotly tipped? Well, it was built on Long Island, directly next to Shinnecock and nearby National Golf Links. It is as fabled a piece of property as is available in the U.S. Entry fee? A cool $500,000.