96 Best New Canadian Courses
1. Nicklaus North G.C., Whistler, B.C., Jack Nicklaus.
2. Le Geant, Mont Tremblant, Que., Tom McBroom
The Golden Bear returned from a 20 year slumber. But instead of Oakville, this time he had a mountain site “ or at least a site within view of mountains.
Nicklaus North opened with a big splash and a lot of hype. It was a Nicklaus Signature, whatever that exactly means considering these days you can get a Barbara Nicklaus Signature for the right price.
For all the hype Nicklaus second Canadian effort (after Glen Abbey) received, it is a rather pedestrian affair. Sculpted on a broad plain of flat land with little to no elevation change, and lots of wetlands, the course opens with a hole between a railway track and condos, and ends back at the railway track after emerging from several holes once again surrounded by homes.
It is pretty much standard mid-period Nicklaus, full of tough, well-bunkered greens that often have significant swales, forcing players to hit exacting approach shots or face lots of three putts.
There are several strong holes “ like the par-3 17th, which with water down the left is the one most will remember “ and some of the best, like the 465-yard 4th are more subtle and allow for the occasional recovery shot. There are also plenty of holes that are either desperately difficult or just plain bad “ I cant decide which.
Time Will Tell: NickNorth garnered a lot of fanfare when it opened, and given Golf Digests criteria and focus on difficulty, it makes sense that it won the award in 1996. However, compared to the real Canadian mountain courses (Jasper, Banff, and even more recent efforts like Stewart Creek), many will come away from their round surprised Nicklaus North ever garnered much fuss.
Where It Ranks: 37 in Canada, according to Score. Way too high. This is an average course on substandard land.
Should It Have Won?: This is one that Id love to have my readers help me out with, as Ive never played the runner-up, Thomas McBrooms Le Geant. Le Geant, by all accounts, is a real mountain course and features some dramatic elevation changes.
What Was Overlooked? Like 1995, by all accounts, 1996 was a year with little competition. Designer Les Furber opened a couple of courses, but nothing of note. Graham Cookes Dunes at Kamloops is considered better than average by some. Perhaps the most notable thing about 1996 was that it was the year Cooke bludgeoned Highlands Links while claiming to restore Thompsons gem. This was a bad year for Canadian golf.
Next: The Muskoka Man