2003 Best New Canadian Course
1. Lynx at Kingswood Park, Fredericton, N.B., Graham Cooke and Darrell Huxham.
2. Sun Rivers Golf Resort, Kamloops, B.C., Graham Cooke and Wayne Carleton.
3. Taboo Resort, Golf and Conference Centre, Gravenhurst, Ont., Ron Garl.
Admittedly I’m put off Kingswood Park by its silly name “The Lynx.” I’m sure someone thought this was clever — instead it comes across as a bad joke, just like the decision to call Osprey Valley’s courses “Hoot and Toot.” I suppose that really has nothing to do with the design, but it bothers me nonetheless.
Cooke doesn’t do much to make the course sound attractive: “This golf course is visually stunning with sculpted ponds, wild untouched marsh, several sod wall bunkers and mature sentinel White Pines, one of our finest projects to date,” he says. “Sculpted ponds?” Good God.
In truth Kingswood is pretty standard fare by Cooke’s firm — containment mounding, clean-lined, very large bunkers, and the occasionally interesting green. The courses is park of an “entertainment park,” which includes an arena and fitness center. It isn’t the ideal place to build a golf course.
Where it Ranks?: It doesn’t — it was not on Score’s most recent ranking of courses in Canada. It did rank 80th of the courses outside Canada in a Golf Digest ranking, which placed it ahead of North Berwick and The New Course at St. Andrews, which of course, is profoundly ridiculous.
Time Will Tell: Truthfully there are few that hold up Kingswood Park as a great golf design, though it is likely overlooked by some given its location away from Toronto and the centre of the universe.
Should it Have Won?: That’s hard to say. Kingswood has its fans, but there are plenty of people who think Taboo is among the best in Muskoka and arguably in Canada. Designed by Ron Garl, Taboo is in an interesting spot. A solid, often difficult course, Taboo is well liked by many, loved by few. It has also struggled as a business and failed to draw all that many players to its fairways. Taboo ranks 11th in Canada by Score, while Kingswood Park is unranked, so it is clear many view it as the better course.
What was Overlooked?: Through 11 holes, Doug Carrick’s Copper Creek may well be his best design. Too bad it hits the plain land at that point and only features a couple of strong holes from that point out, though admittedly the 16th is about as good as it gets at Copper Creek. Truthfully Copper measures up nicely against either of the winners. Many found it interesting that Kingswood Park won this award and felt it demonstrated some desire on the part of Golf Digest to influence the process and move the award to courses around Canada, though there is no evidence to support that suggestion.
Next: Golf Digest’s Rocky Disaster