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Series: Day Ten of 17 Days of Golf Digest Best New in Canada

timberwolf golf club

Golf Digest, Best New Course in Canada 2000 1. Timberwolf G.C., Sudbury, Ont., Tom McBroom.
2. Glen Arbour G.Cse., Hammonds Plains, N.S., Graham Cooke.
3. Wooden Sticks G.C., Uxbridge, Ont., Ron Garl.

Tom McBroom’s Timberwolf was one of those courses few expected to win a Golf Digest Best New Award. Its location in northern Ontario, coupled with some high profile openings in southern Ontario, led many to think it would be overlooked. Added to that fact is that Timberwolf was not a high profile or high budget course.

The course impressed GD architecture editor Ron Whitten who said, “on a vast but relatively bleak site for golf “ mostly flat with wetlands and scattered trees “ McBroom’s architecture shines through.”

Since then this has become one of those McBroom courses that is rarely discussed. For the record, I have never played the course, not having ventured as far north as Sudbury. I can’t comment on this one — though I continue to think I should probably make a trip to see it.

Time Will Tell:The years have not been kind to Timberwolf. Though long regarded as offering good value, it is often rumoured to be in questionable condition. That coupled with its remote location have kept it from receiving much attention in the past few years.

Where It Ranks?: It doesn’t. It has never been ranked on Score’s list of the Top 100 in Canada. In comparison, McBroom’s Rocky Crest ranked 19th in Score’s latest list.

Should It Have Won:Assuming that McBroom and ClubLink nominated Rocky Crest in 2000, it is hard to imagine Timberwolf is a better course. Ron Garl’s Woodensticks has always been hurt by its replica holes of the Old Course (in a field, in Ontario, really…), Carnoustie, Augusta and Pine Valley. It is an intriguing piece of property and one has to wonder how good the course could have been had someone not come up with the ridiculous replica concept. However, in my mind Woodensticks isn’t in the Top 50 in Canada, and has really fallen off the radar in recent years.

What was overlooked?:The list of potential best new candidates was deep the year that Timberwolf won. Glen Arbour is generally regarded as Graham Cooke’s best work, and ranks 24th in the country. It certainly has some interesting holes, but a number of awkward ones as well, like the 10th, a strange uphill dogleg par four. Overall it is far too highly ranked among Canada’s best.

Carrick’s Magna GC opened the same year, and though it is hotly tipped by those that can’t get through its gates, it is simply a nicely conditioned private club, not a striking golf experience. It also wouldn’t have topped Rocky Crest in my mind. The course at Magna is soulless.

Two other courses that opened in 2000 rank in Score’s Top 100 — Royal Oaks, a very average Rees Jones course in New Brunswick on even less interesting land, and Eagle Ranch, a Bill Robinson design in B.C. Robinson is a questionable architect at the best of times, so I find it hard to imagine Eagle Ranch rates highly.

Beyond that it was a busy year for McBroom who opend the acreage challenged Kings Riding, the average Granite Club, and the renovation of the Algonquin in Saint Andrews-by-the-sea.

Next: The Donut King’s Fairways

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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.

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