SCOREGolf has issued its biennial Top 100 of courses in Canada. As always it is a good conversation starter, and Editor Jason Logan puts a lot of time into trying to create the best list. However, like any list, there are some peculiarities, generally based on the fact that different raters clearly have their own odd perspectives on what a good golf course is.
Cabot Cliffs debuts at number one, despite not officially opening until last month, and with greens that were being babied. However, there’s no doubt this is the best golf course in Canada, and it is hard to imagine anything eclipsing it. This isn’t just the best course in Canada, it is among the best in the world. Yes, it is that good. Expect it to have a strangle hold on the top spot for years to come.
The rest of the Top 10 is about what I’d expect. Maybe I’m a bit surprised at Blackhawk breaking the Top 10, even though that’s where I usually have it. Why such a big jump? I have no idea. That said, St. George’s, with newly rebuilt greens, didn’t rise, but it seems pretty firmly a few spots from the top, and destined to stay there. Cabot Links drops four spots, and I can’t help but wonder if that’s because of the challenges the club had with conditioning last year, or just a natural decline that most new (and strongly hyped) courses get. It happened on other lists for Cabot Links as well, though I’d have it higher in my list.
Courses 10-20 aren’t far off where I’d have them, with Oviinbyrd getting the love it deserves. I continue to think it is Tom McBroom’s best work.
Stewart Creek jumps from 35 to 21. Could it be the rebuilt par three ninth, which was previously an awful par four and now is a solid drop-shot par three?
There are some head shakers on the list–as there always are—which makes one question what some Score rankers think is a good course, or perhaps they just aren’t well traveled. Of note, Eagle Creek (wouldn’t be in my Top 250), Le Geant (average, awkward routing).
I’ve played 98 of the Top 100 on the list, missing Wildstone, a Gary Player course in BC that struggled financially when it opened, and Manoir Richelieu, which was rebuilt by Darrell Huxham.
My Top 5: Cabot Cliffs, Cabot Links, St. George’s, Highlands Links, Jasper
Drops and gains: Few explanations for why a course like Tobiano, Brantford or Beaconsfield would have big drops. I have long thought Wolf Creek’s old course wasn’t nearly as strong as others felt, and Glen Abbey’s prestige continues to fall as it moves from a course to housing and swimming pools.
Crowbush Cove (19 spots)
Tobiano (25 spots)
Wolf Creek (Old – 30 spots)
Wildfire (22 spots)
Beaconsfield (22 spots)
Brantford (31 spots)
Taboo (30 spots)
Bear Mountain (original course – 31 spots)
Glen Abbey (30 spots)
Georgian Bay Club (26 spots)
Gains: I’m a big fan of Ian Andrew’s work at Laval, where he worked with Mike Weir to create a walkable, fun course with great greens. Summit rebuilt its greens, but since they just opened all of them, it is hard to determine why it has made such a big jump. I actually liked Black Bear Ridge. Could it be better? Sure. But it had a number of interesting holes. Wonder how good it could have been with a golf architect designing it?
Laval (Weir course – 33 spots)
Stewart Creek (14 spots)
Summit (14 spots)
Predator Ridge (Furber – 29 spots)
Black Bear Ridge (32 spots)
Magna (20 spots)
Goodwood debuts at 29
Glencoe Forest 35
Gallagher’s Canyon 49
Wolf Creek Links 56
Port Carling 66
Manoir Richelieu 76
Lake Joseph 79
Elm Ridge 94
Comment: Goodwood is likely a little low. It has an elegant routing and a great mix of holes. Gallagher’s Canyon? Really? Lake Joe only surprises me because it went from Top 10 to off the list. Wolf Creek Links is an excellent piece of design by Rod Whitman, though it would be nice to see the two nines (which were built years apart) become a touch more cohesive. I wasn’t a fan of Glencoe’s Forest course, and it wouldn’t crack my Top 100. Camelot’s debut is interesting since it isn’t new. What suddenly moves it up?
Missing: What happened to Sagebrush? The course, which closed for some time, was No. 10 last time. That said, there’s no website (despite apparent new owners) and no indication that it has reopened, and its Facebook page hasn’t been updated. I assume it was excluded from the list. The continued failure of Peterborough’s Kawartha G&CC to make the list is a huge miss. It is one of Stanley Thompson’s best and it makes most other Canadian lists—sometimes high up those lists. Vancouver GC should be on the list. Memphremagog, an ultra-exclusive course, isn’t on the list, though it has cracked other similar lists.