Scoregolf's Top 100 in Canada list out…

The National GC of Canada is #1 according to the list posted on yesterday as part of its Top 100 in Canada ratings that appear every other year.

I must admit I find this very strange and troublesome on a bunch of levels. First of all, how many of the panelists actually saw the National with its recent changes, including significant alterations to #10, #16 and #18. While I’m one who thinks that the changes to 18 are very positive, the other two holes are questionable. That said, what course were the raters, of which I’m one, actually rating? The old course that no longer exists, or the current one?

My other issue is that “beauty” and “fun” were top characterisitics for the voting. The National is a lot of things, but fun isn’t one of them, and with some of the most ostentatious houses surrounding the course, I have a hard time calling it beautiful.

The same could be said of Royal Montreal’s Blue Course, which has been completely reworked in a more dramatic way than the National. I haven’t seen the new reworked Blue and had a hard to determining how to vote for it. But since it isn’t among my Top 20 in Canada anyway, I wasn’t as bothered. Still, the Blue fell outside of the Top 10 for the first time that I can recall, which must be upsetting to the folks in Montreal.

Thankfully Highlands Links, which was my top course, is the best public course in Canada, sitting at #7, which is a little low, but not bad. If more people saw the course this year that rating would surely be higher.

So what are the strange and interesting ratings?

– Devil’s Paintbrush is a great course and one of my personal faves, but I never thought it would be in the Top 5.

– Jasper is now well within the Top 10, where it should be.

– Taboo at #11 is about 30 spots too high.

– Redtail plunges to #20. I suspect this course gets hurt by the backlash that the experience is better than the golf. That’s simply not the case.

– Copper Creek at #23 is terrific for the course, but is this one really 30 spots better than Angus Glen South?

– Rod Whitman’s Blackhawk, one of the best new courses to be built in this country since the National in 1976, enters at 21. Should still be higher, but a good showing nonetheless. Whitman’s Wolf Creek sits one spot behind. That gives Rod as many courses in the Top 25 as Graham Cooke and Doug Carrick. Oh, and Rod has only built two courses in Canada. When are people going to start using him in Ontario?

– Glen Arbor at #24? Come on.

– How does Bear Mountain end up on the list even though its opening date of 2005 should have put it on the Best New list?

– Weston, now apparently devoid of any Willie Park Jr. features, is listed as a Doug Carrick course, and sits at 36. Ian Andrew actually did the work at the club, which still maintains its key Park features and is a great club. Nice to see its recent changes recognized.

– The flat, and very average, Nicklaus North at 37? Good god.

– The average Redtail Landing outside of Edmonton ahead of the excellent Cherry Hill Club in Fort Erie?

— London Hunt at #90? Wonder if that’ll change after its strong showing this week at the LPGA Canadian Women’s Open.

— SilverTip falls to #94! Yeah! Hopefully next time more will recognize it shouldn’t be on the list at all.

— Congrats to Steven Ward’s excellent Timber Ridge, which made the list at #95. Proves you can build an excellent public course at 6,600 yards and still be in the Top 100 in Canada without a $150 green fee.

– Scarboro at #67? About 50 spots too low.

– Oh, and Eagles Nest rightfully takes top new course ratings in the list, ahead of Dakota Dunes.

I’ll take a closer look at the list tomorrow to figure out what’s missing. There’s always something….

In case you are wondering who is responsible for the ratings, check out’s list of raters. The only issue I actually have with this is that the website doesn’t include the Top 5 courses as voted by each individual panelist. Now that would be interesting. I also think the panel is far too small and should be at least doubled in size to better represent the broad scope of Canadian golf. But that’s just my take…

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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.

6 CommentsLeave a comment

  • NickNorth was #9 in 2000, #23 in 02 and is now gravitating towards its correct spot. Locating at past history new public courses seem to start high and then fall – it happened to Lake Jo, Predator Ridge was #17 in 00, Fairview Mountain was #18 in 00 and is now out of the top 100, Big Sky was #22 in 00 and is now 61. Fox Harb’r was #12 in 04 and is now down to 25.

    Crowbush is too high as well – it is not one of the 10 best courses in the country. At least it is not ranked higher than Jasper as it has been for the last decade or so.

    Copper Creek really stands out as an aberration. There is no way that it is better than Brantford, St. Thomas, Summit, Weston, etc.

    Redtail’s fall is surprising since you would have thought they would be helped by holding the Ontario Am in 2005.

    Private courses seem to do worse in the ratings than the quality of the course would suggest. They also get less air time on the Score show – I guess this is because few people have the opportunities to play these courses.

    If you compare this to the US rankings it looks like Canadians prefer new courses. In the Golf Mag rankings only 2 out of the top 20 were built after WWII (Sand Hils and Pac Dunes). In Canada 12 out of the top 20 are modern courses – I think votes are going for the sizzle rather than the steak.

    IMHO there should be a minimum age of 25 for the panel. James Lepp and Richard Scott are good golfers but how many courses have they seen across the country? And why are Cory Woron and Rod Black on the panel? Do they know anything about golf course architecture?

    Ottawa sticks out as having nothing on the list – is it really such a golf wasteland? Calgary also looks pretty weak – it now has 1 million people but no courses in the top 50, although there are some within a few hours drive.

    The best bargain in the country is clearly Devil’s Pulpit/Paintbrush. Two courses within the top 15 in a beautiful setting for less than $50k.

  • St. Georges is NOT better than Hamilton. Glen Abbey should not be in the Top 20, Copper Creek should not be in the top 25 and what’s up with London Hunt? Much better course than Copper and Glen Abbey.

  • I was a little surprised that Brantford was not in the top 15. It has 16 excellent holes and two solid ones (9 and 17 don’t quite compare with the rest of the course.) Also, Jasper is easily the best golfing experience in Canada and deserves its top-10 rating, if not higher. Haven’t played the National, but have played Hamilton and St. George’s. A toss-up for sure, but Hamilton gets the nod I think because it just gets better and better as you play and definitely has the best finishing hole anywhere. Taboo is a little high, but there isn’t a bad shot on that golf course. SilverTip is terrible. Did anyone else notice Stephen Ames proclaiming it as his home course during the Skins telecast? What’s up with that? As a great ball-striker, who always plays well at traditional tracks, I don’t know why Ames would want to spend any time at all at SilverTip.

  • This list is self serving for the people involved – both the golf course owners and the selection comittee. The golf course owners want their courses rated, thus pulling all stops to appease the media, while the golf writers are too happy to oblige since they will get some free golf on some exclusive golf courses.

    Golf writing is one of the few non-pro sports professions where the participants get to enjoy their jobs. Same can not be said about majority of the people.

    Personally, I am interested to who what is the #101 golf coruses in Canada.

  • To all the people above who suggested the ratings were incorrect, did any of you actually go and review the criteria for the ratings from Scoregolf before saying that say Hamilton should be higher than St Georges or that Glen Abby should be in the top 20? Doubt it.

    Everyone has their favorite golf courses and opinions of who is worthy of a top ten ranking. But I salute outfits like Scoregolf and others who lay out their criteria and then ask their panelists to rank the courses accordingly. Now some panelists may not be following these guidelines but that is another topic.

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