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Series: Day Nine of 17 Days of Golf Digest Best New

The Cliffhanger

The Cliffhanger

99 Best New Canadian Courses
1. Greywolf G.C., Panorama, B.C., Doug Carrick.
2. SilverTip G. Cse., Canmore, Alta., Les Furber.
3. The Links at GlenEagles, Cochrane, Furber.

Doug Carrick, Canadas quiet, unassuming architect, had won GDs Best New once before, for Angus Glen near Toronto, but at Greywolf he created a course with a hole so stunning that the remainder of the course was built around it.

The hole in question “ the Cliffhanger “ is a one-shot masterpiece that plays between 140 and 200 yards to a green perched on the other side of a massive chasm. It is heroic golf at its finest, forcing players to either succeed or fail with one shot. Though it is regarded as intimidating given its severe location, most think the hole isnt as hard as it initially appears.

The Cliffhanger presented such an irresistible opportunity that Carrick admits to creating the rest of the course around this singular hole. The remaining holes of the course feature huge swings in elevation and the patented wide fairways that Carrick would take to another level with later designs like Magna.
Time Will Tell: Given its location “ not near a major airport and not particularly easy to get to “ Greywolf is often a course that many have not seen nor played. But its best known hole, the Cliffhanger, is known around the world through photographs, which leads me to believe that this is a course that should be held in higher regard.
Where It Ranks: 50 in Canada, according to Score. If one thinks this is Carricks best work “ and better than those ahead of it “ King Valley, Magna, Osprey Valley and Copper Creek “ than this is too low. But if you think a couple of those courses are significantly too high up the Score list (as I do) than maybe 50 is low.
Should It Have Won?: Yes, this is one of Carricks best efforts, regardless of whether some think it is too easy. SilverTip, Les Furbers mountain disaster, is more of a roller coaster ride on a cart than a great golf course. With huge swaths of land between some holes and a propensity to ride up a hill just to hit from an elevated tee, SilverTip is Disney golf “ and thats the best I can say about it. It is interesting to note that Furber “ often regarded as the No. 3 or No. 4 designer in Canada “ has never won a Golf Digest Best New.
What Was Overlooked? Two high profile courses opened in 1999 ” Thomas McBrooms 36-hole Rattlesnake project for ClubLink near Milton, Ontario, and Dundarave, the Hurdzan/Fry course in PEI. Im not a huge fan of Rattlesnake, though McBroom thinks it is the most underrated of the courses in his portfolio. Built near a landfill, the courses rest on relatively plain land that has a natural ravine running through it. The project has certainly been a success for ClubLink, but I still find it difficult to consider it a huge success compared to McBrooms other work.
Dundarave, on the other hand, is a very solid project located on the east side of PEI. It is bold and modern, with several very good holes. The failing of the project is its convoluted routing, which weaves the course in and around the existing Brudenell Course. That makes for some strange transitions and a fair bit of cart golf. In the end, Dundarave is good “ and it should have been second this year “ but Greywolf is better.
Next: An Unexpected Choice

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Who thinks it’s too easy – I sure don’t – it may have the hardest start of all his courses.

    I do think this is one of Doug’s two or thre best courses and I’ve seen them all including Scotland.

  • As far as mountain courses in Western Canada, I think this one sets the standard. Most of them, like Furry, Trickle Creek, Stewart Creek et al are pretty tricky or downright junk (Furry). Greywolf was much more fair and much more fun.

    When I say mountain course I don’t include the likes of Big Sky or Kananaskis, which are set in the flatlands around mountains.

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