Canada’s Best Par 4s: The panel weighs in

There was a little consensus in picking the top two-shot holes in Canada. Other than the 16th at Cabot Links, which was picked by four of our select group, and the second hole at Highlands Links, which was picked by three, no hole had more than two panelists supporting it. That demonstrates the wide variation of great par fours that abound across the country. There are plenty that got nods that other panelist might well have considered and some had affection for, including the magnificent closer at Calgary G&CC, the tremendous short par four 5th hole at Hamilton, and the 7th at the National.

The group that picked these holes includes architects Ian Andrew, Riley Johns, Keith Cutten and Jeff Mingay, and I asked fellow journalists Rick Young, Garry McKay, and Ted McIntyre to chime in. Finally I filled it out with PGA of Canada’s Jeff Dykeman, whose travels have taken him to many of Canada’s best, and John Wilczynski, who made have surpassed my reputation as the country’s greatest guest.

Here’s the post on Canada’s great par threes. 

Cabot Links 16: One of Canada's best.

Cabot Links 16: One of Canada’s best.

16th at Cabot Links (Cutten, Thompson, Johns, Dykeman)

One of the most thrilling holes from start to finish at Cabot Links runs directly beside the water the entire way from tee to green. Often playing downwind, one must be very cognizant of the two fairway bunkers that tend to abruptly halt some well struck tee shots.  Walking up over the hill to see your ball on the fairway and then seeing the beautiful greensite pushed back in the corner almost floating off the edge of the property towards the water.  The approach shot on the 16th at Cabot Links is one of those special spots in Canadian golf where I could stand all afternoon and hit a bucket of balls into it.

  • Jeff Dykeman


The incredible second hole at Cabot Cliffs features a remarkable green site.

The incredible second hole at Cabot Cliffs features a remarkable green site.

2nd at Cabot Cliffs (Johns, Thompson)

I have never experienced a golf hole like this before – so full of strategy it’s ridiculous. First off, the hole plays different for everyone depending on what tee they are playing from.  In short, the golfer must observe from across the dunescape where the pin is located on that particular day and where the wind is coming from as this undoubtedly dictates the best approach angle into the green.  The ever-widening fairway forks aggressively and is intersected by a creek some 100 yards in front of the elevated putting surface.  Hitting it straight down the middle almost always ends up with a blind/semi-blind shot up to the green which is well guarded by a cluster of bunkers dead center. The big hitting gambler in the group has another option on this short par 4 – risk it all and try to drive the green!  Decisions, decisions, decisions.

  • Riley Johns
The terrific 7th hole at Scarboro.

The terrific 7th hole at Scarboro.

7th at Scarboro (Andrew, McKay)

Every golf course should have at least one good short four and this may be the best in the country. It may only be 270 yards from the tips but a difficult green setting makes it no easy birdie.
-Garry McKay

10th hole, Humber Valley Resort - The River Course

10th hole, Humber Valley Resort – The River Course

10th at Humber Valley (McIntyre, McKay)

No. 10 at Humber Valley Golf Resort. There aren’t many better pulpits in Canadian golf than the 10th tee here, with its unobstructed view of the valley, mountains beyond, and, if you’re lucky, wisps of low-lying cloud crawling through the valley. What I love about this hole is that it doesn’t let up after the tee shot, which itself must be shaped from right to left to a bunker-framed landing area. The approach must also negotiate bunkers short and left, and then the green further resists par with many contours. Relentless but magnificent.

In the mist: the iconic second hole at Highlands Links.

In the mist: the iconic second hole at Highlands Links.

2nd at Highlands Links (Thompson, Andrew, Mingay)

No bunkers, a nasty green, a great view of the ocean, the second at Highlands completes one of the toughest opening duos in golf. It really provides a glimpse of what you’ll find throughout Highlands—interesting elevation changes, rumpled fairways that look like the surface of the moon, and greens with significant movement. Genius.

2nd hole, St. George's Golf & Country Club

The second hole at St. George’s smartly uses ravines in a way few expect.

2nd at St. George’s (Mingay, Andrew)

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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.

4 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Jeff Mingay is in Toronto, but spends a lot of his time in the West where he has numerous clients. Ian Andrew is based in Brantford. Rick Young is in Woodstock. Riley Johns is in Canmore. Garry McKay is in Hamilton. Ted McIntyre is in Oakville. Keith Cutten is in the Kitchener area. Jeff Dykeman is in Toronto. I’m in London, Ont.
    That said, I don’t think it matters one bit where they are from. I’ve never seen a course and thought, “Hey, that’s pretty good. Wouldn’t even be better in Toronto?”
    Doesn’t happen.

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