So Ontario Golf Magazine is no more, but the publication brought out its final list of the top courses in Ontario as selected by its panel of 60 members. I’ve been a member of the panel since then editor Ted McIntyre asked me to join a decade ago. I always enjoyed going through the process since there’s no set criteria for how you have to choose you courses. In other words, unlike say ScoreGolf or Golf Digest, you don’t have a point system to rate the courses by. You simply put them in your order of preference, which does yield some occasionally strange results (with one rater putting Weston GC at the top, for example, or Essex as No.2.)
I can’t say the results for this year are particularly startling. I don’t understand how the National GC (see CG review) moves from
three to one – considering nothing changed in the top three courses (no renos, alterations, etc.), but I can only assume some OG members hadn’t seen it since Fazio reworked holes a few years back. Oviinbyrd continues to rise – coming in at a deserved No. 7 – but everything else in the Top 10 is pretty much static. The only exception is Goodwood (see CG review), the ultra-private course owned by Gordon Stollery that has never officially opened. Only three panellists – myself included – have seen it and therefore it didn’t have enough votes to qualify. I think it would be solidly in the Top 10 if it had enough eye balls.
Other interesting notes:
• Toronto GC (see CG review) rises five spots to #12 after a reno by Martin Hawtree. This was pretty much expected. Toronto now has more visual appeal, even if I don’t think all of the renos improved the course (see hole 16 as an example).
• Essex at 16? I like the course a lot and think it has great greens, but so does Cherry Hill and the courses are 30 spots apart. Essex is significantly too high in the ratings to my way of thinking.
• Is the bloom off Muskoka? Rocky Crest and Ridge at Manitou used to be courses that were considered in the elite. Now they rest in the twenties and are falling.
• Big changes. Magna is up four spots to 25, which is too high, while Oakdale (see CG review) rises 7 spots, which is closer to where it should be. Glen Abbey falls six spots. Any idea why? Rosedale comes in 9 spots higher – and well deserved. Scarboro falls three spots despite a solid restoration. That makes no sense to me. It should be at least 10 spots higher. Summit (see CG review) rises 8 spots to 32, which is nice to see, but still too low. Mad River jumps nine spots – the course has apparently let more raters see it. Thornhill jumps seven positions, while Cataraqui rises six. You’re trying to tell me there are 43 better courses in Ontario than Cataraqui? Come on. Wyndance moves up 12 places, while Copper Creek drops 11. Strange. National Pines at 47? Really. Granite Golf drops 16 places.
• How the mighty have fallen. Angus Glen’s South course is now outside the Top 50, where once it was a staple of the Top 10. I think it is easy to argue it is a Top 40 course, just like Copper Creek should be.
• Nice to see Tarandowah (see CG review) in the Top 50. My affection for the course continues without question. Its greens, btw, were perfect this weekend.
• Cutten Fields falls seven spots? Not enough media days perhaps?
• Lambton (see CG review) jumps 22 spots, but still isn’t what I’d consider a great course.
• Hard to judge the final 50 – many are exchangeable to me – but what in the world is Kawartha doing outside of the Top 30? This is one of Stanley Thompson’s great designs and is the most underrated course in Canada. Maybe if the club did something to promote itself, it would help. Alas they’ve chosen to be very quiet.
For the record, my top five were: St. George’s, Hamilton, Devil’s Paintbrush, Eagles Nest and Westmount.