SCOREGolf's Top 100 Courses in 2012 — the hits and misses


Highlands Links -- six spots too low to my way of thinking.

SCOREGolf officially released its new Top 100 Courses in Canada list. I’ve been a member of the panel for a decade and have watched SCOREGolf editor Jason Logan really rework the panel, adding some good names and making it less prone to strange fluctuations. Of course, like any other year there are some big misses — where is Kawartha, Wildfire, Tarandowah, Montebello, Pine Ridge, Lake Joseph Club — and lots to debate.

This summer I played the remaining courses I hadn’t seen on the list, becoming, I think, the only one of the panel to have played all 100. I’m not sure playing 100 different golf courses rates as an accomplishment, but it means I’ve seen them all and can compare them. Frankly, outside of the Top 40 or so, I find it very difficult to separate the remaining courses.

Anyway, for those interested, here’s my top 10:

Note that the new Cabot Links isn’t on the list yet — but I’d have it above Sagebrush in my list. I haven’t run the numbers yet, but it’ll be interesting to see where it ends up.

With that in mind, here’s my remarks:

  • I don’t have the National at No. 1 in my list – but I’ve kinda given up on the notion that my peers will see it any other way.
  • Nice to see Sagebrush move to No. 11. The question with this one is what kind of culture will develop around the club now that founder Richard Zokol is gone? Still a great golf experience.
  • Highlands Links behind Capilano? No way. One is world-class, and one is simply very, very good. There’s a distinct difference.
  • Royal Montreal’s Blue Course continues to slip. It should drop another 50 spots and then it would be about right.
  • Has anyone actually gone to see Wolf Creek in the last five years? They’ll find a dated course that is in dire need of tree removal, where playing corridors have shrunk and trees sit in the middle of fairways. Awkward and doesn’t hold a candle to the new course at Wolf Creek, which isn’t even ranked. I’d put Wolf Creek’s original course in the bottom 50, and the new one in the Top 30.
  • Shaughnessy holds a good Canadian Open, the players rave about it and it drops eight spots? Figure that one out.
  • Predator Ridge’s new course makes a splash at 25. Probably about right.
  • Calgary G&CC comes in at 33, making a big jump. Shows what a good restoration can do for a club.
  • Is Taboo in free fall? How did this course go from top of mind, to no one paying any attention?
  • Nice to see St. Thomas get some love. A great course that has struggled as a club recently. As I’m moving to the London area, I’ve thought long and hard about joining Union.
  • Mount Bruno moves up a bunch to 56, but how can it possibly behind the bland and overdone Kananaskis or Fox Harb’r
  • Dakota Dunes drops 15 spots? Any idea why? I don’t. It isn’t great — but the land is exceptional.
  • Bear Mountain’s second course in at 68, and Wyndanace at 73. Wyndance should be there, and Bear Mountain’s second course is better than the first, but still just slightly better than average.
  • What is Eagle Creek doing on this list? Heck, all three courses at Osprey Valley are better and only two of those makes the list. Tarandowah, which fell off the list, puts the mundane and overdone Eagle Creek to shame. There are people in the Ottawa area who think Eagle Creek is better than Royal Ottawa, which proves there is no accounting for taste.  Or maybe some don’t have any taste. Could be either.
  • Cherry Hill re-enters at 77. See comment on Calgary G&CC. That said, I don’t see how it is ahead of Lookout Point.
  • Rideau View’s back nine puts it on the list.
  • Seems no one cares who played at Marine Drive now and the panelists have come to recognize it is too tight, too penal and not much fun to play. Great players came out of the club though — guys who could hit the ball very straight because you have to. #bowlingalley
  • Lookout Point at 85? Do Score panelists not like to hit big downhill tee shots and play some of the most intriguing greens in Canada? I guess not.
  • Northern Bear? 25 spots too low at 98





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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.

78 CommentsLeave a comment

  • You should join St. T. It was a bargain several years ago when I played there and I am guessing it is much cheaper today, given the economic climate of golf clubs.

    I love Highlands but the conditioning is atrocious (my last visit was Aug 2011). That would keep it from #1 on my list but it would be in the top 10. It also suffers by being run by the govt – think of how much better it would be if it was part of a high-end resort or a private club that gave a damn about service.

    It is good to see Victoria move up – I think it is better than Royal Colwood and has a fantastic setting and a quirkiness that I love – Canada’s Cruden Bay.

    I agree re: Mt Bruno. It is a gem and should be top 25.

    Most overrated is Copper Creek. It may struggle to hit my GTA top 100! I haven’t played Ryal Montreal but I bet it is way overrated as well. If anyone ever invites me to play CC I turn it down, but I am spoiled.

    Worst cities for golf in Canada (if you believe the rankings) Ottawa and Quebec City.

    I also think Toronto GC is underrated – of the courses I have played it is better than several of the courses ahead of it in the rankings. But I love old courses.

    I am biased but there is no way that Rosedale is better than Scarboro, despite the diff in neighborhoods.

    • In the late fall 2010, a storm of all storms hit Ingonish. Highlands Links suffered considerable damage that took a lot of man and woman power just to get the course open the following May. Mother Nature did not cooperate last summer as mostly everyday had cool temperatures and rain – not favorable for growing grass under the best of conditions but staff at Highlands never gave up. Conditioning probably was not the best when you visited that August but it has certainly improved since. It is also interesting to note that you comment that Highlands would thrive under a private company or resort operating it – are you aware that the food and beverage service at the clubhouse is provided by Keltic Lodge Resort – prepared and served by employees of Keltic Lodge/New Castle which you describe mediocre at best…

  • Wayne, you’ll be happy to hear the Highlands is in great shape these days. I loved my experience there and I would hate to see it turned into to some corporate high end daily fee course.

    I’m interested to see where Cabot Links will enter the list. I haven’t played all of the top 10 courses but I have played a few and Cabot Links is definitely in their league. Let’s hope CL does well and prompts the construction of the second course then I’m sure we’ll have a least another new course to consider in theses discussions.

    • What is wrong with high end public courses? I personally think that bag drops are an instrument of the devil, but courses like Angus Glen and Eagle’s Nest do a great job of looking after their customers, not that I play these types of courses very often.

      I have always found playing Highlands to be more like playing a muni – and that is not commensurate with the vey high quality of the course. I played it last August and the fairways damaged by flooding more than 6 months earlier were 80% grassless.

      I know Ian is doing some great work there so hopefully this is a thing of the past.

      And the clubhouse and F&B are mediocre at best. Some people may not care about this but I think that it detracts from the course experience. The contrast with Cabot will hopefully cause them to raise their level. Magna is a bit over the top but it’s kind of nice to be pampered like this every once in a while.

  • Your really not a fan of Eagle Creek I see. I love it, but there is that taste thing and the fact that I have only played a handful of the courses on the list.

    St.Thomas is a great course, but growing up in St.Thomas it was always the holy grail of golf, so when I finally played it as a teenager I found it a bit underwhelming.

    I am sad to see Tarandowah off the the list, I really enjoy the course and always try to get a round in when I am in the area.

    Crowbush is the highest ranked course I have played.

  • Following up on your post and Aaron’s comments, Eagle Creek is definitely overrated and in my opinion at the lower end of the top 5 in Ottawa. However, I also think you are giving too much respect to Royal Ottawa. My top 5 in Ottawa are Camelot, Rideau View (because of holes 11-18), Hunt Club, Royal Ottawa, and then Eagle Creek (with close followers Loch March and Marshes). I would also say that Tarandowah is better than all of them despite having no holes requiring a left to right shot (if I remember correctly.)

    I also don’t see a spot for Montebello on the list ahead of any of the courses listed above.

    In the end, it is a case of preference preference and I enjoying seeing lists each year.

  • I live in Ottawa and while we don’t have as many high end courses as a number of cities, we also don’t pay $100+ a round. We’ve got plenty of choice at great prices and a number of very nice courses we can on for very reasonable prices.

    As for eagle creek, I have never been a big fan but the golfers here love it.

    • But if you believe the rankings then Ottawa is very underserved in tems of decent private options compared to other cities in Ontario (many of them much smaller) like London, Windsor, Hamilton, St Catherines, Kitchener, etc.

  • Is the Municipality of Central Elgin the best small town for golf in the country? This community with a population of 13,000 has Redtail (#30) and St . Thomas (#50). My hometown of Ancaster (population 33,000) has Hamilton (#3) and Heron Point (#66) but Ancaster no longer exists due to amalgamation into Hamilton.

    Any other small towns with golf of a similar quality?

    • Depending on whether you qualify Caldeon as a small town it may have it beat in Ontario with the two courses at Devils Pulpit Golf Association and the three courses at Osprey. If not a small town (50 000 is rather big compared to 12 000) it must be a contender in the best golf within a 10 km radius in Canada.

  • We’ve got a lot of great options here. Royal Ottawa,rivermead, Camelot, rideauview, eagle creek, kanata, for private clubs and lots of very good public or semi private courses at affordable prices. I don’t think we are under served at all. I think we are pretty fortunate

  • I agree with AJ–Within about a 40 km radius of Caledon ON, you have some of the best quality “that anyone can play” golf courses in the Country. Someone should really consider making an “Ontario Golf Trail” based around this area.

  • Or the stretch between Owen Sound around Georgian Bay to Collingwood. Cobble Beach and Lora Bay. Nice golf!

  • Robert, where did you rank National? I know it’s not your favourite, but I’m just curious where you see it in comparison to other courses.

  • As usual Score has lots of archie errors, here are a few obvious ones:

    Beanconsfield is listed as W. Park Jr., 1904, S. Thompson, 1904 – Stanley Thompson was 11 years old in 1904.
    Mississauga is listed as G. Cumming 1906, S. Thompson, 1906 – Stanley was only 13 by then.
    Scarboro is listed as A. Tillinghast, 1921 -it should be G. Cumming, 1912, A.W. Tillinghast 1925, I. Andrew 2006, G. Hanse 2006

    Although it looks like reno architects rarely get credit on this list with a few exceptions, like Hawtree at TGC.

  • Al — #11. Which is likely too low, but I have a hard time giving it marks for “fun” which is one of the biggest factors in the Score rating. Score’s high on conditioning, par fours, par threes, etc., but I don’t think it can compare to Banff or Jasper when it comes to beauty and though I respect the course, i don’t think it is fun.

    It is an exacting examination of one’s game, and maybe I just don’t want mine examined that badly!

    I would probably move it up four or five spots if the categories changed.

    • Dear Robert,
      Unlike you I find The National to be the most fun of any course on the list. Why? Because each time I play it I am challenged. Each time I know I am going there I get excited. I know I will be rewarded for good shots and punished for bad ones BUT, and most importantly, it forces me to THINK about each and every shot. I find golf courses that do that are the most fun and I’m quite sure all good golfers do.
      If you need to go out and shoot a low number every time you play to feed the ego then The National is not for you.
      To have The National at #11 is a joke and one must seriously question your credentials to rate golf courses.
      For example, there’s no arguing that Banff is pretty BUT, it is a boring course to play. It is poorly conditioned, expensive (I assume you paid) and can take 5 hours to complete a round. The real test is this: would the course (any course) do as well if it wasn’t in the Rockies. The answer is no and it wouldn’t be in the top 100. Jasper is a great course and would survive outside the Rockies. We can debate many of the courses that you have in YOUR top 10 but I for one most definitely agree with the majority of the Score panellists. You’re a good writer but you ability to measure golf courses is highly questionable.

  • I see the comments about Marine Drive have been revised. No longer is it as enjoyable as a colonoscopy? Why was this revised?

  • No, slightly more enjoyable than a colonoscopy. But only by a slight margin. As I’ve said, my blog, my rules. I reserve the right to edit, or change as I see fit. Colonscopy was too harsh for a course that treated the GJAC kindly. However, I don’t think you, Mr. Kurt Cassidy (kcity) do your club any favours by simply lying and making things up.

    Explain why Marine Drive is so much fun? I’m anxious to have someone explain that.

    Now I’m going to put my running shoes on….

  • Excellent Robert.

    Please enlighten me on what you refer to as me lying and making things up and I will be happy to explain.

    In regards to Marine Drive being ‘fun’ (although I don’t think too many rankings have this as a factor), I would say the variety of holes, conditioning, the fact you have to work the ball, and the pride members take in their game all contribute to the ‘fun’ factor. Now of course it isn’t PR where guys have to take carts and can brag about 350 yard drives because of 300ft elevation changes off of some tees, but I guess fun is a relative term. Considering the ‘golfers’ I see reading your free magazine, you might have actually got the rankings just right.

  • KC: You speak BS about the HOF gathering at Marine Drive and do a disservice to your club along the way. As a guest of your GM and head pro, your ridiculous remarks about our luncheon are typical of the BS you spew. I think Stuart Anderson is right — you’re bitter because you didn’t have the balls or the game to make the jump that many of your peers did.

    As for the “variety” of holes at Marine Drive, if you’re talking about narrow and tree-lined, I’d agree there are 18 of them. Conditioning is a small factor in my thinking, but the course was in fine shape when I visited. If by working the ball you mean you have to hit it straight down narrow fairways in between lots of trees, I’d agree.

    Truthfully, I don’t think you are representative of the membership, which was warm, kind and welcoming. I can only assume you’re the anomaly there — harsh, nasty, prone to ad hominem attacks and the type who simply makes things up when his argument isn’t working out the way he’d hoped.

    I was likely too flippant with my remarks about Marine Drive initially. But I can correct those by going back to the blog and editing it. You’re just a nasty, bitter prick, and I think that’s going to be a much tougher fix.

  • Back to Marine Drive. Yeah it is tree lined. So are many great courses. Olympic, Sahalee to name two. Are they one dimensional? Of course not.

    Face it. You are a fraud and a phoney who knows shit about golf course architecture. Only in this country can someone get a job writing about something he knows nothing about.

    • Peter, at the risk of getting in the middle of a fight I know nothing about, I just wanted to address one of your comments…

      I have not had the privilege of playing Olympic, but I have played Sahalee and it is remarkably one-dimensional. Perhaps it is an excellent championship test — precise (straight) shots are rewarded and off-line shots are penalized — but in my mind that does not make it a great golf course. It is repetitive; it is boring. Par-3 variety is non-existent. Ditto par-4 variety. A few interesting greens and interesting terrain on only a handful of holes does not make a great course.

      I will not speak to Marine Drive as I have not been there in several years, but Sahalee is most certainly one-dimensional.

  • Be interested to know how many (if any) of the courses would be considered quirky? I think the Paintbrush might qualify. Any others?

    • I would put Victoria GC at the top of my quirky list for Canada. Holes 8 and 9 are back to back par 3s and until 1976 the 7th hole was also a par 3 so you had back to back to back par 3s. The 8th is a short par 3 right along the ocean that is a fantastic hole. The 3rd hole has a 3 tiered green where sometimes three putting is a relief. And the 3rd and 4th holes pretty much share the same fairway so lookout for approaching shots.

      Scarboro is quirky for the 18th hole where you hit over a fairly busy city street. It also has a good collection of short par 4s and long par 3s, not to mention a 19th hole.

      Rosedale is also pretty quirky with back to back eagleable (is that a word) holes at 8&9.

    • Thanks Wayne. I thought of Victoria and maybe even Mad River & Jasper a bit, but feel Scarboro & Rosedale are both pretty traditional. Just thought it was interesting that the raters, by implication of the list, tend to skew toward vanilla. Just an observation, but IMO quirk tends to rate lower overall, but would generally perform well on the fun factor.

  • Peter: You’re quick on the uptake. Read what I said before — my blog, my rules.

    Besides I left the fraud and phoney part there — just took out the remarks about my shoes, which were black loafers from a downtown TO store, if you must know.

    No one insults my shoes on my blog.

  • Mr. Humble

    Thanks for the feedback but I could not disagree more. Sahalee is a classic parkland course among magnificent old growth trees. Yes, the holes are all tree lined but there is a large variety in length, direction, bunkering, use of water, green size, terrain ect. Anyway, the pros loved it and they seem to love all courses just like it. Thanks again for your comments. Interesting discussion, much more so than with pin head Thompson.

    • Peter, the trees at Sahalee are most certainly magnificent. They’re what, 125 feet tall? Certainly very cool to see!


      Variety in direction? OK, I’ll give you that one. Interesting ‘spoke’ routing by Mr Robinson. Wind was dead calm the day I played so I cannot speak to interaction with the wind, but I wonder if the wind-tunnels created by trees make variability in direction a non-facotr.

      Variety in Length? Honestly, some of the least varied golf holes I’ve ever seen. Each of the four par-3s played between 178 and 190 yards and, for me, meant four 5-irons. Three of the holes are nearly identical… same length, downhill, water either short-left or short-right. The par-4s ranged between 370 yards and 430 yards. Like I said, a few of the par-4s were routed over interesting terrain (mostly on the back-9 of the championship layout) but many were dull.

      Variety in use of water? I’m not sure what that means, but the only water I can remember fronted greens on par-3s and par-5s and was entirely penal in nature.

      Variety in green size? I agree there. Greens are the highlight of the golf course.

      I don’t care if the pros like a golf course. They mostly abide by the ‘tough but fair’ mantra, which I do not think is the definition of a great golf course. It is a terrific golf course for holding tournaments, but not one I would want to play everyday (or really ever again).

  • Agreed on the National. St. George’s is majestic and hard for it not to be #1 on the list. Lake Joseph is a beautiful track, fair test, and provides options to approach their greens – they should be etched in the top 40 for history – what an unforgettable experience. Copper Creek is overrated and is top 200 but most definitely not top 100.

  • I’m really enjoying the comments section – you gotta love the passion!

    I’d enjoy a ranking show that limited the ranking to top 25 courses in Canada. Specifically, for the top 10 or top 5 I would like to hear and see why each course received the ranking it did. I found the overview of each course during the show to be on the superficial side with limited stock footage.

    I can’t believe that anybody can qualify the difference between a course ranked 74 vs. a course ranked 104. At that point in the process I would expect we’re just splitting hairs, so why bother?

    I would argue that the show itself would benefit from focusing more on the merits of the courses at the top end of the list with an explanation of where the course scored well and where they did not. Further, I would like to hear what some panelists don’t like about specific courses, which may be more illuminating than hearing about what they do like.

    BTW – Wayne, I appreciate that you enjoy the service model associated with the ‘high end daily fee courses’. Personally, I’m not a fan of overpaying for a round of golf just because the course needs to underwrite an over done and ostentatious club house. As long as the course is in good shape and the beer is cold I’m a happy camper. Glad to see Ancaster is well represented in the comments section!

  • I say with confidence that Riverside at #86 is better than Wooden Sticks at #87. Robert is correct about Dakota Dunes. The site is better than the course.

  • Hey folks just to let know what an absolute sham this blog is. Mr. Gutless is able to go in and edit and delete any view counter to his. Talk about insecurity issues! He openly calls out people for not having balls and then doesn’t have the balls to post critical comments. Clown blog.

  • Have to agree with Bryce!

    Having played all 100 courses, Robert’s opinion is based on more experience than most. I appreciate the insight and the candour on a game that is a hobby for most — the petty insults over course ratings are laughable.

    Robert, I joined the Paintbrush this year, and have always found the Paintbrush to be a more enjoyable golf course, however I think the Pulpit is a better test of golf. Does the challenge of the pulpit affect it’s position in the ratings in your opinion?

  • Gunsynd: What many fail to recognize is that the Score rankings are based on a set criteria, with each section weighted differently. In fact the greatest percentage is “fun,” which is why something like Marine Drive struggles and why the Paintbrush outperforms the Pulpit. It is also why I find it intriguing that the National does so well — it is a great test of golf, but is it fun? That’s the question.

    That would be my explanation as to why Pulpit is behind Paintbrush or why Banff is behind Jasper, for example.

  • Fun is an interesting way to “measure” a golf course since almost everyone has their own idea of what constitutes fun.

    That said, there was an Ontario course close to Hwy 35 near Hwy 401 called Great Pine Ridge (or something like that) which was sloped at a ridiculous 144 from the white tees even though it measured only about 5500 yards. The course was an amateur design which had some of the most ridiculous greens/undulations ever seen. Four putts and more were common…hence the slope. Was this fun? The simple answer was yes…in a perverse and sarcastic way as long as you didn’t try to take it seriously. I assume it is now returned to its natural state but I assure you that playing it once was “fun” but playing it twice was masochistic.

    Anyone else remember this “gem”?

  • The National is fun to play once every five years or so (when I rate it), just couldn’t do it every day. That’s why it’s still my number #1. Wolf Creek is WAY too high, Tarandowah WAY too low. And Montebello still doesn’t make the list??? It would be interesting to see the number of “ratings” each course gets. I think a course must receive 10 ratings to qualify but I could be wrong.

  • JCG, it was called Blue Spruce Ridge…it was actually a serious eye-opener for me on how quirk could be such a good thing on a golf course. It was insane…Canada’s version of Tobacco Road, only crazier. I miss that place…

  • Before you go ripping a top 100 course in the most unprofessional manner imaginable with an idiotic clown statement, you might want to check who did the recent reno. You would find that a very respected professional with an immaculate resume did the work at Marine Drive, Jim Urbina. Talk to him about his philosophy and work and then say the course is as much fun as whatever idiot word you used. Dare you. As well, be very careful about calling out someone about a lack of balls over their chosen career. #clown #unprofessionalhack

    • Bryce

      only idiotic clowns come on blogs with fake names!

      “that is a clown question bro…”

  • Mr. Golf Course Expert

    Please explain to me how you can describe Marine Drive as penal? Penal is when you drive the ball off of the fairway and you have a good chance of losing it. With the exception of OB, you can literally play Marine for years and not lose a ball. Hardly penal.

    As far as being too tight, the golf course is built on less than 100 acres and is 6300 yards long – let’s hope it is tight!

    Pete Dye – the golf course is a gem! Thompson – penal, too tight, as much fun as whatever. Answer me folks, who are we to believe? A world class expert or a self taught clown?

    • Peter, your definition of penal (the chance of losing a ball) is not the correct one when it comes to golf course architecture.

      Simply, there are two main schools, 1) strategic and 2) penal.

      The strategic school is based on the belief that hazards/features are there to provide risk/reward. Challenge a bunker/water/tree successfully and be rewarded with a shorter approach/a clearer view/a preferred angle.

      The penal school, instead, uses features to penalize mis-played shots. So, bunkers/trees/water will line the fairways (in many cases) but there is no risk/reward. It is a yes or no question. Hit the fairway or be penalized. Trees lining both sides of the fairway would very much fit with the penal school of architecture.

  • These comments are, in the main, hilarious! Credit to Robert for writing a blog that evokes such a volume of heated responses – the mark of a successful post.

    As far as the ranking is concerned, Osprey’s three courses are top 100; even members of Eagle Creek prefer playing at the Marshes and Hunt Club. I like Rosedale because it’s a great place to run my dogs in the winter.


  • Pete: You don’t know what the penal school of design is. At the very least it certainly isn’t strategic — but you’re right, you won’t lose a ball by hitting it down the middle. Don’t know many courses where that is possible, but anyways.

    As for Pete Dye, he was being nice. He’s a gentleman, and is unlikely to offer up his real perspective at a course that was apparently hosting some team Alice was the captain of.

    Re: Jim Urbina. I actually know Jim. I sent him a note. I’ll be intrigued at his perspective. He’s a talented guy — but you won’t find one course he ever created with Tom Doak that looks anything like Marine Drive.

    I wish this discussion hadn’t become about Marine. The pro and GM were very kind to me there. I just didn’t like the course and apparently wouldn’t like a few of the past members and current members. Oh well. It isn’t my type of course. And yes, it makes a bowling alley look like it has options. Some like it — but it wouldn’t be my idea of a good time playing there on a regular basis.

    • Mr. Golf Course Expert

      You continue to expose yourself as a condescending prick.

      1) With the exception of OB, you can hit the ball 50 yards off line at Marine on every hole, and not only find your ball, but have a shot, either towards the green or out to the fairway. Hardly penal by any definition you wish to use and considered fun by many. Much more so than any medical invasion.

      2) How the hell do you know what Pete Dye was thinking when he called the course a gem? Are you suggesting that he is as phoney as you are? And there is no “apparently” about it! Marine was the host of the ’92 World Am and Alice Dye wasn’t the Captain of “some” team but the US Women’s World Amateur team.

      3) You know Jim Urbina. The Pro and GM were very kind to you. Given these facts, as presented by you, only a real moron would write the shit you did. Once again, complete idiocy.

      4) Here is a hint. If you are in Vancouver for the LPGA event, you might want to think twice about looking for a freebie at Marine Drive. Obviously not my call but just saying. Can’t imagine you are welcome there – basically you f….ed yourself. There are plenty of other courses in the area – but you might have to actually pull out your wallet. Great muni right next door.

      Why don’t you show us all the size of your balls and leave this up for a day or so.


    • On 13 holes at Marine Drive, you can roll the ball onto the green if you choose. ie. Options. What definition of “penal design” are you using Mr. Expert?

    • “the membership, which was warm, kind and welcoming.” And how do you repay them? With an idiotic, thoughtless, horse shit comment! You can’t be that smart. Don’t count on them being so welcoming next time you try to mooch a round and drinks. See you at the muni, that is where I play.

  • @Peter Radiuk:

    In reading through the commentary on this blog post, your comments remind me of a saying my Mother often quoted…”Don’t confuse me with the facts!”.

    I understand your passion and beliefs around both Marine Drive and other courses. But frankly, you present views that are one dimensional. I find it difficult to believe that golfers who have a handicap more than a 5 agree with your approach as to what makes a good golf course.

    And tangeantly, Marine Drive has a past of questionable relationships with some of your female membership as it pertains to the bullpen lounge and access by the female membership. I know this was several years ago. But if your approach to this blog and its associated content is mirrored by your fellow membership at Marine Drive, then I have a better understanding of the historical challenges the Club has with members who have a different view from those of the controlling interest.

    Certainly, you appear to not help what I have to assume is the approach and mentality of the majority of the Marine Drive membership. Not that you internalize any of the comments on this blog or from this writer, but you may want to conduct a little internal retrospection. It may help.

    Than again, you can ignore the perspectives of others and continue on your merry way. It may make life simpler for you but I would suggest less helpful.

    • Mr. Weekend

      Don’t quite know where to start. I’m not a member of Marine Drive, just take great exception to some hack amateur architect writing absolute shit about a course he was welcomed graciously to. He played it once (for free) and is an expert on the place!

      “agree with your approach as to what makes a good golf course.” What exactly is my approach as to what makes a good golf course? Please enlighten me.

      Your third paragraph is just nonsensical babble and is not pertinent to anything being discussed here. Get over it pal.

  • Pete: What you fail to understand is that I’m not looking to return to Marine Drive to play golf any time soon. I don’t really care. There are lots of places I’d like to play, but I didn’t enjoy the course. That’s all. As for the remark, I made one comment that I didn’t think MD was much fun to play and you’ve spent five days discussing it.

    I think you need to get over it.

    • “Seems no one cares who played at Marine Drive now and the panelists have come to recognize it is too tight, too penal and about as much fun as having a colonoscopy.” This after the “the membership, was warm, kind and welcoming.” “The pro and GM were very kind to me there.”

      You have a lot of class Thompson……all low.

  • I always find it interesting when someone accuses another of ‘knowing nothing about golf course architecture’. Frankly, when it comes to golf course architecture, there’s one thing to know and get right: drainage. After that, everything else is subjective – from the slope of a green surface to the placement of bunkers, the location of trees, etc. This is why we’re so lucky, as golfers, to have such a diverse selection of courses to play, everywhere. You like Sahalee, for example, and I prefer St. Andrews. There’s nothing, absolutely nothing these two courses have in common other than they both drain water and you hit a golf ball around them.

    However, still, some courses are obviously better than others.

  • @Peter:

    My mistake for thinking you were a member of Marine Drive. Strikes me as odd then that you take such exception to RT’s view on this one course when RT expresses less than favourable opinions on plenty of other courses as well…and backs up his thoughts with a rationale.

    That is what he does…writes his opinion on his blog. Perhaps you can provide your opinion with facts on why you disagree as opposed to what you have written. Some samples are below:

    “…Before you go ripping a top 100 course in the most unprofessional manner imaginable with an idiotic clown statement…”

    “…You continue to expose yourself as a condescending prick.”

    “…Can’t imagine you are welcome there – basically you f….ed yourself. There are plenty of other courses in the area – but you might have to actually pull out your wallet.”

    “…And how do you repay them? With an idiotic, thoughtless, horse shit comment! You can’t be that smart. Don’t count on them being so welcoming next time you try to mooch a round and drinks…”

    “…Given these facts, as presented by you, only a real moron would write the shit you did. Once again, complete idiocy.”

    And when you do provide your thoughts on golf issues as opposed to hurling insults, you write:

    “1) With the exception of OB, you can hit the ball 50 yards off line at Marine on every hole, and not only find your ball, but have a shot, either towards the green or out to the fairway. Hardly penal by any definition you wish to use and considered fun by many.”

    I have not played Marine Drive but you admit it is tight and tree lined, 6,300 yards in less than 100 acres. So in this tight tree lined environment, one can find one’s wayward golf ball and hit it towards the green. Hmmm…seems like a stretch to me. Or alternatively, you can hit out to the fairway. Seems like a lot of fun. Sign me up for that plan!

    Missing fairways in a tight tree lined demanding course is fun? I suppose if one’s handicap is south of 5 and you have the ability to execute those types of shots. I find it hard to believe that a 20 handicap playing out of the woods would find that fun. But hey, to each his or her own.

    • Mr. Weekend

      “Seems no one cares who played at Marine Drive now and the panelists have come to recognize it is too tight, too penal and about as much fun as having a colonoscopy.” This after the “the membership, was warm, kind and welcoming.” This discussion started after the ultimate insult.

      Nobody is suggesting that it is fun to miss fairways. What is “fun” and refreshing about Marine Drive is that you can find your ball and advance it towards the green AFTER you hit it 50 yards off line – as opposed to losing your ball. In this respect, it is a great course for a 20 handicap and is what makes it ingenious. The narrow fairways make it a great test for the low handicap player and yet, it is not going to cost the guy who sprays it 6 balls a round. You would thoroughly enjoy it.

    • @Peter:

      I find it difficult to follow your logic. Being able to find wayward tee shots and advance them or hitting back to the fairway is fun because you can find your ball? So, if a golfer all round is not accurate and misses fairways by a small margin (as you admit the fairways are tight), and has to constantly advance the ball as opposed to being able to go for the green, then the golfer will still have fun? Seems to me like it would be frustrating not fun.

      The golfer is required to scale back to a more accurate club and hit longer shots into the green from the fairway or be in a up and downs struggling for par all day. Again, not seeing the fun factor unless your are a low handicap and can keep the ball straight or enjoy the grinding challenge of up and downs. Again, to each his or her own.

  • “Seems no one cares who played at Marine Drive now and the panelists have come to recognize it is too tight, too penal and about as much fun as having a colonoscopy.” This after the “the membership, was warm, kind and welcoming.” “The pro and GM were very kind to me there.”

    You have a lot of class Thompson……all low.

  • “the panelists have come to recognize that MD is as fun as a colonoscopy.”

    — note — I said the panelists. I’m one of them and tend to agree. I avoided writing about my lack of enthusiasm for the course until then — but I’m not alone on this. Apparently a whole group of industry types, writers, pros, etc. agreed with me.

    Anyway, if the course is so good, why did you stop being a member, Pete?

    • “Anyway, if the course is so good, why did you stop being a member, Pete?”

      Now you have gone from being a condescending prick to just a plain asshole.

      I left after 26 years for family reasons – mainly I wanted to spend every minute of every weekend with my young kids. Good enough reason for you asshole!

    • You must skulk around in the dark like some bug, checking the backgrounds of people with opposing views…..

  • Weekend: Marine Drive makes bowling alleys look like they have alternatives and options. It is that tight and that’s likely why short, straight hitters have been so successful there and have done well coming out of the club.

    And knowing your taste, I don’t think you’d be a fan.

  • Too High – National, Hamilton, Beacon Hall, Muskoka Bay, Royal Montreal Blue, Westmount, Crowbush, Wolf Creek Old (the New course is better), Devils Pulpit, Stewart Creek, Georgian Bay Club, Copper Creek, Priddis Greens, King Valley, Cobble Beach, Deerhurst, Marine Drive

    Too Low – Highlands Links, Toronto, Shaughnessy, St. Thomas, Essex, Mt. Bruno, Scarboro, Brantford, Cherry Hill, Summit, Lookout Point, Cataraqui, Mad River

    Should absolutely be on the list – Kawartha, Royal Ottawa, Lora Bay, Wildfire, Montebello, Grandview, Wolf Creek New

    Could merit consideration – Sarnia, Point Grey, Cutten, Craigowen, Credit Valley, Galt, Dundas Valley, Kingswood, Islesmere, National Pines, Oshawa, Royal Montreal Red, Beverley, Highland (London), Islington, Lakeview, Ottawa Hunt, Tarandowah, Bond Head South, Niakwa, St. Charles, Pine Ridge, Lake Joseph

  • Cape Breton: Highland Links in Ingonish and Cabot Links in Inverness are the Pearly Gates leading into Heaven :>)

  • Your top 10 list? Did you get this list from David Letterman? Your love of certain courses and corresponding distain for others runs counter to the vast majority of raters and, creates a credibility issue. They say, “variety is the spice of life” and, “everyone is entitled to their opinion”, so good on you Robert for having the ‘cahones’ to take the contrarian position.
    For you to have Eagle’s Nest, Capilano, the Paintbrush, St Georges, Blackhawk, and especially BANFF rated so high is a real ‘head scratcher’. Every golf publication on the planet has The National listed as 1, 2 or 3 in Canada and you have it 11th??? What do you know that every other rater on the planet doesn’t?
    Also, your constant ‘pitching’ of Tarandowah is most confusing. Last time I played there it was burnt out, we followed two guys drinking beer and wearing tee shirts and, we waited on every tee. I just don’t get it.

  • JJ,

    What does “Last time I played there it was burnt out, we followed two guys drinking beer and wearing tee shirts and, we waited on every tee. I just don’t get it.” have to do with the quality of a course course. “Burnt out” is a conditioning factor, and waiting on every tee is an issue with the ranger. The score ratings are based on fun, design etc.

    Tarandowah is easily in the top 50 courses in Canada.

    • Hi Chris,
      Waiting on every shot, watching slobs pull their portable fridges around on a hard panned boring layout simply was not fun. I hope this addresses your concern.

  • I have had the good fortune of playing the Highlands Links for 4 rounds every fall for the previous 8 years. I love the course and that trip has become, yes sounds cheesy, but an almost spiritual weekend. The long trip to beautiful Cape Breton island, following the Cabot trail and it’s hairpin switch backs up 450m high mountains that drop off strait into the Atlantic ocean, into one of Canada’s best national parks, and finally by the time you’ve reached ingonish and grab your first glimpses of the course the excitement is unbearable. For anyone who has made the trek knows what I’m talking about.

    As for the condition of the course, I have seen the good, bad, and ugly. To keep it short highlands links is in a very unfavorable location in the eyes of mother nature and to see some of the damage it has suffered through previous rains storms, ocean surge, etc it a wonder that they can even maintain it at all. a lot of work has been undertaken to better prepare for such events in the future. a multi million dollar restoration project has been underway for the past few years to bring it back to its original design with aggressive tree removal which has increased the sun and air movement on the few suffering greens- the results were immediate.and finally,with some luck weather wise I think it’s more than fair to say that the condition of the course has improved so much that this course should be on its way back to the higher rankings like the the #1 it has achieved in the past.

    Every time the rankings come out I hear that condition is what drops the course down- I can understand. Here’s the question: golfed jasper last week. Beautiful course. Fun.etc , etc… Typical great ST design. But I was appalled by the miserable condition of it. Many greens were missing 25-30% of its grass, every green was surrounded by 2 ft of dirt. Was explained by a member that it was a direct cause of tough winter that beat the shit out of the greens course. In the rankings why was this not mentioned and not have any apparent adverse effect on its overall score?
    Just trying to stir up some debate. And please dont think I’m trying to discredit JPL course because it’s a top 10 hands down. They just happen to be in a rough environment that wasn’t so kind as of recent.

  • Recently I’ve was fortunate enough to play Highland Links. I give full marks to the management of the course and their efforts to restore the conditioning, the course and the sight lines. They have all improved however; there is a lot of work yet to do. Ian’s work to take the course back to the original ST design is terrific. The conditioning has improved but remains ‘a work in process’. The site lines to the sea (or lack thereof) is really a crime. They are working to get the original vistas restored but tree huggers, locals and government bureaucrats all act as barriers. (Why is it that people will cut their hair when it grows, their grass when it grows but get apoplectic when tress are to be cut???? It is mind boggling.) One would expect the conditioning to benefit from the increased air flow the tree removal will produce.
    The most glaring change required is to the name: Highland Links. There is not a links hole of the golf course. IT IS NOT A LINKS course! I overheard a group of Americans complaining they had been ‘tricked by the name’. This too has management’s attention and the plan is to rename it to Cape Breton Highlands Golf Course. As for the Keltic Lodge manage your expectations! It is owned by the Province and managed by a private sector company. It would get 3 out of five stars and whatever you do not stay at the Keltic Inn. It is an expensive motel style building with limited views and no balconies. Whoever designed this building was an idiot. World class views but no way to enjoy them from you room (unless you stand behind the window mounted AC unit.
    Last comment- Cabot Links: GO!!!!!!!!!! It is spectacular links golf. True links golf. The food, service and rooms at the course are really solid but the golf course….I could play it every day. It is in my top 5 in Canada.

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