Canada’s Dumb Blonde Courses

The Rock Golf Club

The Rock -- One of Canada's dumbest blondes

Ian Andrew has done an interesting job of listing the best in Canada over on — the best par 5s, par 4s, courses, routings, etc. Worth checking out here. It is essentially a Canadian version of the back pages of Tom Doaks’ Confidential Guide to Golf Courses.

Anyway, being a working architect and sensitive to some sensibilities, Andrew didn’t include one of my favourite Doak topics — the “Dumb Blonde Awards,” for courses that are pretty, but lacking substance. That one is simply too much fun, so I’m chiming in here:
1) Fox Harb’r

* Built by Tim Hortons baron Ron Joyce, this is the only course I know where the architect created artificial mounding along a stretch of ground adjacent to the sea. Its 18th hole is truly unfortunate, as there is a great hole running down the coast. Too bad the final hole runs up a hill to the clubhouse and features some of the most flagrant use of railway ties ever seen in golf.

2) Nicklaus North

* Sure are some pretty mountains surrounding this course. Too bad it is flat as a table and the back nine plays through a dense setting of condos.

3) Furry Creek

* Perhaps the worst course with a significant budget in Canada. Set on the side of a hill overlooking the ocean, this is only a course a mountain goat could like — and only a goat who didn’t mind fairways that were graded into hazards.

4) Seguin Valley

* A Muskoka course on a pretty setting. Too bad the holes feel incomplete and there are some massive cart rides from green to tee. A disappointment.

5) Mystic Golf Club

* Located outside of Hamilton, and built on a terrific piece of property. Too bad it sports some horrible holes — including the opening two and the 10th.

6) Glen Arbour

* Set alongside a lake, Glen Arbour used to hold a spot in ScoreGolf’s Top 100. It doesn’t any more and I wonder if it is because people recognized that while it is attractive, there’s not much more to it.

7) The Rock

* Nick Faldo and Brit Stenson took a pretty site, built narrow fairways through dense woods and awful holding ponds all over. Pretty to see — just don’t try playing golf there.

8 Kananaskis (either of them)

* I’ve never understood the love for Kananaskis, other than it is priced right. Once again — flat with contrived elevation changes, the mountains are the big attraction. But you don’t need to spend $60 to look at them.

9) Bear Mountain (first course)

* What can one say when the most interesting hole — a par 3 overlooking Victoria — wasn’t actually noticed by Nicklaus Design? Once again, you need to be a mountain goat to appreciate this course, which is over-shaped — the Megan Fox of golf.

10) Radium Springs

* Another attractive mountain course, but it doesn’t really get interesting until the last couple of holes. Until then it is over-shaped and full of holding ponds.

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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

  • I can remember seeing the one photo of Fox Harb’r along the water and wanting to play there so bad, until I did some research. Nicklaus North is indeed flat and very forgiving but not that bad. Bear’s first course is bearable for 13 holes but then the marketing and real estate take over and you must endure 5 bad finishing holes just to see one incredible view.

  • I agree that the Rock plays very difficult and might be a bit much for your average joe, but I played there twice last summer and really enjoyed it both times. It seems like they made some odd choices in the re-design, especially on the first hole, which plays as a 400 yard par 5. You also need to hit irons off several of the tees in order to avoid hazards set up around 230 yards from the tee. However, I found the course forces you to hit many different shots and a few of the holes are spectacular (9,10,14,16). If you are a good player, I would definitely try the Rock especially for the price right now. I wish I could have tried it when it was apparently very difficutlt before the redesign.


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