Yesterday I posted my (now much debated) list of the best courses in Canada by Canadian golf designers since 1981. Today’s list is the best Canadian golf courses by non-resident designers. Note the list doesn’t include The National (1975) or Glen Abbey (1976).
It is interesting to consider how these two lists would be amalgamated — would the American/British designers standout, or would the list be dominated by Carrick and McBroom courses?
The Best Modern Course by Non-Canadian Designers:
- Devil’s Paintbrush – Hurdzan/Fry — the most enjoyable,[photopress:devilpt_1.jpg,full,alignright] fun-filled course with the most options that has been built in Canada since the era of Stanley Thompson. Hurdzan/Fry don’t always get it right, but when they do it is a home run. The holes offer options, the course is a delight to walk and finishes strongly. The variety of holes is impressive. This is one of those four baggers.
- [photopress:coppinwood2.jpg,full,alignleft]2 .Coppinwood – Tom Fazio — perhaps a victim of its own expectations, Fazio’s Coppinwood is excellent from the 11th hole onwards. The best holes at Coppinwood have magnificent vistas and are exceptionally playable. Many might have expected more out of this one — but what they received was still quite strong.
- Redtail – Donald Steel — don’t listen to what anyone says — this is a solid golf course with intriguing greens. It might be made arbitrarily hard by its fairways that are limited by the single line irrigation.
- Dundarave — Hurdzan/Fry — Lots of Hurdzan/Fry on this list, [photopress:dundarave.jpg,full,alignright]and Dundarave is a good one. The best holes have spectacular river views and strong strategies; the average holes are still pretty to the eye. Yes, maybe elements of it are overdone, but it still rivals anything in PEI.
- Beacon Hall — Bob Cupp/Thomas McBroom* — I’m not crazy about the two differing styles in the nines, but Beacon Hall has matured nicely and there’s majesty in the setting.
- Bond Head (South)– Jason Straka for Hurdzan/Fry — Like Doug Carrick’s Osprey Valley Heathlands, Bond Head has a legitimate heathlands feel. Straka can’t help but being over the top sometimes — and that accounts for both the good and bad parts of the course.
- Devil’s Pulpit — Hurdzan/Fry — Some say it was “space age golf,” but the Pulpit isn’t nearly as weird or as modern as it was regarded when it first opened.
- Deerhurst Highlands — Bob Cupp/Thomas McBroom* — the original Muskoka course has all but been forgotten, but this is the one that set the stage for those that followed. What remains is a solid course.
- Chateau Whistler — Robert Trent Jones Jr. – Those heading the[photopress:chateauwhistlergolf.jpg,full,alignright] Whistler to play mountain golf will be disappointed by the other courses in the area. On the other hand, Chateau Whistler has a grand setting in the mountains. It is a remarkable setting, though there are one too many straight uphill or straight downhill holes for my liking.
- Taboo — Ron Garl — A solid, if slightly understated design that doesn’t hold up that well on repeated plays. The strategies are slightly redundant, but the highlights, like the par three 7th, are excellent.
*I’ve always run with the notion that Cupp was the lead architect on both these courses and assisted by McBroom.
Rumours have long abounded that there was a significant difference of opinions on who contributed to each course, leading to the fact the pair never worked together again afterwards.
Note: I received a call from Tom about the above comment this afternoon. He asked to clarify his relationship with Bob Cupp: “Bob and I have a great relationship to this day,” McBroom said. “There is no acrimony at all.” He noted that he was the associate architect at Beacon Hall, while “Deerhurst was a 50/50 collaboration,” and it was “an excellent partnership.”
“We always talked about doing projects together, but we just got too busy,” he concluded.
+ I have not played Nicklaus’ Bear Mountain in Victoria or Eagle Creek near Kanata.