Well I was going to wait until Friday for this Top 10 list, but I haven’t anything to write about, so here goes. This time the Top 10 courses designed by Doug Carrick. Note that I have not seen Greywolf, Carrick’s well regarded course in B.C. nor Humber Valley, his new one in Newfoundland. The Carrick office is quiet these days — can someone explain why he is not getting phone calls and Graham Cooke has all kinds of work? Doesn’t make sense to me.
10 — King Valley — Though it has never been in good shape in the times I have visited it, King Valley is a traditional parkland throwback and largely unlike anything else Carrick has done. It continues to stand the test of time nicely.
9 — Copper Creek — Through 11 holes this course is tremendous. The remaining holes, however, are built largely on flat land and, with the exception of 16, lack much of the drama of the start.
[photopress:muskokabay1.jpg,full,alignleft]8 — Muskoka Bay – before it opened, this was said to have the potential to be Carrick’s best. However, it turned out to be simply another strong Muskoka golf course (with a few notable exceptions like #9, #10 and #11) — which is its strength and failing at the same time.
7 — Angus Glen South — Despite the debacle surrounding the North Course, Angus Glen South remains a delight to play and relatively consistent throughout. The homes that have been built along its opening holes don’t help its aesthetics, but they don’t factor into the shot values. The best holes, like the 9th and 13th, are gambler’s specials and utilize Carrick’s fondness for carry bunkers.
[photopress:osprey_valley1.jpg,full,alignleft]6 — Osprey Valley Wasteland — I refused to call this “Hoot” or “Toot” and can’t figure out which is which anyway. Maybe the most underrated of Carrick’s courses (though the Parkland course at Osprey Valley comes close), the Wasteland course has an ingenious routing and is very playable while not having the wide fairways that Carrick typically designed during the period. Through 16 holes, the course is occasionally extraordinary, but did we really need the waterfall on 17 or the awkwardness of 18?
5 — Bigwin Island — Featuring two of the best holes in Canada in the #9 and #18, Bigwin Island is one of the top mid-period Carrick courses. Though some are critical of its wide fairways, the use of carry bunkers offers options to the bold and those that aren’t so gallant.
4 — Osprey Valley Heathlands — The best of Carrick’s early work, this course stands with his best more than a decade after it opened. The most accurate of the faux-links done in Canada, Heathlands has been hurt by the consistent monkeying with the routing — it has never truly played as the designer intended.
3 — The Carrick — This course, located in Loch Lomond, Scotland and due to open next year is a fascinating piece of minimalist design with strict limitations on the movement of land throughout the construction process. If it were not for the rather plain opening and closing holes, this would rank near Carrick’s best.
2 — Cobble Beach — Carrick at his most clever and quirky, this will [photopress:cobblebeach1.jpg,full,alignright]open next summer and should drive plenty of people to Owen Sound. The best holes — like the 489 yard par four fifth, feature lumpy, bumpy fairways that wouldn’t be out of place on Highlands Links. A near masterpiece. I’ve only played it once — but if it holds up under repeated play there’s a chance this is Carrick’s top effort. During my solo tour around it, I immediately went right back to the first tee and played two more before my hosts forced me to head to dinner.
[photopress:eaglesnest5.jpg,full,alignleft]1 — Eagles Nest — Carrick’s best work on a site that was excellent (the valley holes) and plain (the rest). A muscular work that allows for plenty of shot options (#4, #7, #14, #17), Eagles Nest is rock solid all the way through and as the course matures and the waste bunkers take on a more natural look, it is truly starting to resemble some of the dune-filled courses it attempts to replicate.