Note: This is the third part of a 17 day series looking at Golf Digests Best New Course in Canada award winners, presenting a perspective on those courses that received their due, those pretenders to the throne, and those that were overlooked.
1993 Best New Canadian Courses
Winner: Chateau Whistler G.C., Whistler, B.C., Robert Trent Jones Jr.
2. Redtail G.Cse., Port Stanley, Ont., Donald Steel.
3. Barrie National Pines G. & C.C., Barrie, Ont., Tom McBroom. (Now National Pines G. & C.C.)
It strikes me that in the 17 year history of Golf Digest’s Best New in Canada award, there have occasionally been missteps that while not massive, do overlook the course that turns out to be a better golf design.
Such is the case with the 1993 winner, Chateau Whistler, which isn’t a bad course — but it is a mountain course on such extreme property that it is far from great as well. In this instance, the runner-up is certainly a better golf course, and better golf experience (not that the latter is what is being judged), while Chateau Whistler remains a neat experience, but the dramatic plunges in elevation and opening holes which make the golfer feel like they are climbing a mountain really hurt the course.
Time Will Tell: I’m actually surprised that Chateau Whistler was tops at the time. Redtail, the understated, minimalist design near St. Thomas that was the brainchild of two merchant bankers, is solid, nuanced, and penal. It could be better if it were not for the utlra-narrow fairways, but it is a strong course, much better than Chateau Whistler.
Where it Ranks: #45 on Score’s most recent list — a touch too high in my mind. The course should rank in the 70-100 area within Canada.
Should It Have Won?: No, it isn’t the best or even second-best course to open that year.
What Was Overlooked?: It had a troubled history, including a bankruptcy. It didn’t have a clubhouse or working range. But Osprey Valley’s Heathlandcourse was, and is, a pure unadulterated golfing experience that has gained fans over time. It is comparable to Redtail — some would probably even prefer it — and is one of the most unique courses in the country. The Heathlands is a better course than Chateau Whistler — but it wasn’t even recognized by GD.
Tomorrow ” 1994, the year that put Tom McBroom on the map.