Golf Magazine just came out with its latest world rankings and it was interesting to see all three Canadian courses on the list — Highlands Links (#79), St. George’s (#92) and Hamilton (#100) — drop significantly from the 2005 list.
St. George’s is perhaps the most surprising, especially considering the restoration the course has undertaken in recent years that has returned it to much nearer to Stanley Thompson’s initial design.
Highlands Links has also dropped and with continuing concerns about the encroachment of trees that have hindered turf conditions, and with the general disarray surrounding the facility, one has to wonder where it could end up.
If one investigates those who do the voting, you’ll find an odd group. Players like Justin Rose and Jim Furyk, who aren’t going to get to St. George’s or Highlands unless the PGA Tour suddenly decides to hold an event there, are grouped in with architects like Rees Jones and Art Hills. There are also a handful of Canadians on the list, at least three of which are big supporters of Highlands Links:
George Bedard, Canada (who I know little about…)
Ben Cowan-Dewar, Canada (a golf entrepreneur and the founder of Cabot Links)
Chris Goodwin, Canada (co-owner, Redtail GC)
Lorne Rubenstein, Canada (journalist)
Thomas McBroom, Canada (architect)
I actually believe that all three of the courses are lower in the ratings than they should be, and I say that having played 28 of the top 100, so I must admit my view is determined by those I’ve seen. That said, it is hard to imagine how Bandon Dunes is a stronger course than St. George’s or Highlands (or why it moved up 12 spots on the list). I’m thrilled by the addition of North Berwick’s West Links, but one has to wonder how Pat Ruddy’s pretty, but overdone European Club ends up as high up as it does.
Oh well. Perhaps this will be the match that finally lights a fire under Highlands Links to make the moves the club needs to make before it falls completely under the radar. Hamilton, on the other hand, decided to invest in its clubhouse instead of its golf course. We’ll see how that works out, but I must admit its drop is perplexing, especially considering it held the Canadian Open last year.