After compiling lists of the the best courses by Canada’s three most popular designers — Doug Carrick, Thomas McBroom and Graham Cooke — I’ve taken the time to compile two more lists. The first is the best of modern golf design (I’m using the cut off date of 1981, or 25 years ago) from Canadian designers. Then I’ve done a second list of the best of modern golf design in this country from non-resident designers. I’ll be intereted in seeing how G4G readers feel these two lists stack up against one another.
- Eagles Nest — Doug Carrick — Carrick’s best work with [photopress:eaglesnest5_1.jpg,full,alignright]fascinating options and a great dunes look that was completely artificial. The greatness in this design comes from the fact the back nine — largely the most unappealing part of the property — has several of the best holes (#11, #12, #14). The only letdowns on the entire course are the 18th — a standard long four with water on the right — and the mixture of bunker styles.
- Blackhawk — Rod Whitman — Whitman is largely unknown outside of Alberta and has spent most of his career working as a shaper for other designers (Pete Dye, Bill Coore). At Blackhawk he demonstrated his talent, crafting a throwback to another era. Though this doesn’t exactly look like a Stanley Thompson course, it feels like one.
- Oviinbyrd — Thomas McBroom — At the behest of owner [photopress:Oviinbyrd2.jpg,full,alignright]Peter Schwartz, McBroom pushed his limits at Oviinbyrd, creating a crafty, sporty course full of great shots and great views. With little dirt pushed around on this project, it might be considered minimalist by some. I just call it great.
- Cobble Beach — Doug Carrick — This one is set to officially [photopress:cobblebeach6.jpg,full,alignleft]open next summer, but held a media event last fall. Filled with rolling, plunging fairways, great views of Georgian Bay, Cobble Beach is Carrick’s most consistently fun course since Osprey Valley Heathlands.
- 5. Crowbush Cove — Thomas McBroom — Sure everyone would like to have seen this course run more towards the ocean. But it doesn’t and it doesn’t really matter — McBroom has created a great golf experience and several of the holes, like #8 over the ocean inlet, are terrific.
- Osprey Valley Heathlands — Doug Carrick — There are few courses with lower profiles in Canada, but Carrick’s work at Osprey Valley’s three courses is a great example of an architect’s skills. The best is the first course — the Heathlands — with its Scotland-like appeal.
- Bigwin Island — Doug Carrick — Bigwin Island is more strategic than many give it credit for, though the most spectacular holes (#6, #18) are far from being the best. Give Carrick credit for building a smart course with a great mix of holes. The only letdown — the par threes.
- Dakota Dunes — Wayne Carleton/Graham Cooke — In my[photopress:dakota1.jpg,full,alignright] estimation, the only Graham Cooke course with a chance at cracking the Top 10. A lay-of-the-land design on a great site. Too bad the course doesn’t quite match the setting.
- The Raven at Lora Bay — Thomas McBroom/Tom Lehman — A course where McBroom nails a distinctive bunker look and created a course that has all the elements of a timeless track. Starts strong, with a terrific tough par four, and ends with a similar strong two-shot hole. In between there’s a great mix of long, hard holes, and smart short ones.
- Ridge at Manitou — Thomas McBroom — The second best of McBroom’s Muskoka work, Ridge at Manitou is solid all the way through. The best hole is the downhill par four 8th. Only marred by four par threes of similar length and with similar shot values.
Tomorrow — the best of modern Canadian golf by non-resident designers.