Golfweek releases Canadian course list

The third hole at Devil's Paintbrush. Best in Canada?

American magazine Golfweek has waded back into the Canadian ranking game, and will soon be followed by Golf Digest. Of course ScoreGolf has long done their own list — so there’s lots to compare.

Golfweek, interestingly, breaks its lists down into “modern” (post-1960) and “classic” (everything else), so there are actually two lists — starting with the modern:

1. Devil’s Paintbrush

2. The National GC of Canada

3. Sagebrush Golf & Sporting Club

4. Beacon Hall GC

5. Rocky Crest Resort

6. Coppinwood

7. Fox Harb’r

8. Taboo

9. Humber Valley

10. Shaughnessy

The 16th hole at St. George's.

The classic list:

1. St. George’s G&CC

2. Jasper Park Lodge GC

3. Highlands Links

4. Banff Springs GC

5. Capilano G&CC

6. Hamilton G&CC (West & South)

7. Toronto GC

8. Royal Montreal GC (Blue)

9. Mount Bruno CC

10. Essex G&CC


Every ranking list is different depending on how the criteria used to distinguish each course is weighed. I’m not overly familiar with Golfweek’s criteria, but knowing that Brad Klein set it up, and he’s a very clever man, I’m sure it is well considered. Still there are some very strange elements on the list, starting with Fox Harb’r sitting at No. 7 in the modern list, a course that struggles to break the Top 30 in Score’s list, and even then is likely 20 spots too high. An average Graham Cooke course that is over shaped and doesn’t use its admittedly cool seaside site very well, most people I know who’ve played it feel it is one of the biggest misses as a course in Canada. The opening holes, which traverse some woods and open fields, are largely forgettable, and the seaside holes — of which there are only truly two — are not strong. It also has a remarkably weak closer — a par five that runs away from the water towards the clubhouse. Beyond that it is hard to imagine Taboo and Rocky Crest ahead of Shaughnessy or Eagles Nest, but I suppose somehow I just don’t the affection for Muskoka golf that others do. Interesting to see Muskoka Bay absent from the Top 10 (it comes in at No. 11), but it is nice to see some love for Humber Valley, a course that has struggled financially.

The classic list is, in some ways, even stranger. For instance, I really don’t consider Royal Montreal a classic course, since it was significantly reworked by Rees Jones, and isn’t great even then. Stranger too to see Lambton crack the list when it is a complete re-do by Jones again, and certainly not comparable to courses listed behind it (St. Thomas, Weston, Royal Colwood). Speaking of Colwood, it looks like this AV Macan course — one of his best designs — might finally get some TLC as the club has started searching for an architect to lead a restoration. They are casting their net wide — I got a call from a leading American designer asking about the course last week. And though it is nice to see Manoir Richelieu on the list, it is another re-do with little remaining from the existing design.

Perhaps most interestingly, it is fascinating to see Hamilton not regarded as highly as we are used to, coming in at 6. I find it hard to put it behind the likes of Banff (a really good course that is in need of bunker job), but there is a school of thought that says Hamilton has the worst grassing lines of any course in Canada (the fairway lines were brought in for the Canadian Open and leave bunkers floating on their own in a  sea of rough). That said, I’d still plug Hamilton in around three or four — though I find it interesting there’s an argument that can be made for Jasper as the best classic course in the country. I haven’t been there in nearly a decade, but am heading back in June.

For the full Golfweek list see — modern and classic.

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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

  • Golfweek needs some guidance. To put Banff anywhere near the top 10 is a crime. It’s too short. It is poorly conditioned. The rounds are 5 hours long and the layout is uninspired. Unlike Jasper, where you could put the golf course anywhere and have fun, Banff cannot stand alone. If you took the setting away, the course would not be in top 500.
    It is nice to see TGC getting the accolades it deserves after the redo but, to place Hamilton at # 7 confirms Golfweek may be doing more than walking on the ‘grass’. They’re smoking it! Also, it’s nice to see Coppinwood climbing the ladder. I am always surprised that CW is not mentioned as a possible Canadian Open site????
    I completely agree with your assessment of Fox Harb’r. Perhaps a Tim’s would improve the day there. Not surprised that Muskoka Bay is falling down the lists. I find each time I go there I enjoy is less. It’s pretty but, it is not a course you’d want to play every day.
    It would be nice if GW would publish the criteria they use in their ranking process and who is on their panel.

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