Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Best in Canadian Golf - Part 1

Best Golf Course in Canada: St. George’s Golf & Country Club

It is the best routing of the Canadian course with its brilliant use of the bisecting valleys. It is one of the finest examples of Stanly Thompson’s architecture and has some of his best bunkering. Out of all his work, this is the one that could comfortably hold the best players in the game at bay, and still provide a pleasant round for its membership.

Runner up: Highland Golf Links

Best Par Three

This is a landslide win for the Devil’s Cauldron at Banff Springs. It would also be my pick for the finest hole in Canada too. The hole plays over a small glacier fed lake to a beautiful green site set in a natural amphitheater on a plateau above the lake. Thompson further framed in the green with a beautiful array of bunkers providing some additional drama to the setting. The backdrop of the green is small sliver of dark spruce which helps emphasize the beautiful natural setting for the green, but the most unforgettable part of the hole is how the shear mountain face seems to loom right over the hole. You feel a thrill just standing on the tee looking at everything around you and Thompson delivers an exceptional one shotter that lives up to the setting.

Runner up: The Bad Baby at Jasper Park (best short three)

Best Long Par Four

My favorite is the 2nd hole at Highland Golf Links

My favorite long four has no bunkers and no water, so how can it be great? What makes the hole so much fun to play is the terrain of the land and the contour of the green. The hole is a dogleg to the right with the landing area tumbling down like a gentle mogul run to the green site. The player can choose to carry the corner of the trees and valley to shorten the hole or to play straight out leaving a very long approach. The shot in is downhill but the lie can be anything due to the wildness of the fairway. The green sits just beyond a deep swale in front. With no bunkers, so you can run it on or fly it in. The green is a stunner with the deep swale dissecting the centre of the green making putting, chipping and the approach shots fascinating.

Runner up: 2nd hole at St. George’s

Best Short Par Four

My favorite is the very drivable short 7th hole at Scarboro Golf & Country Club. From the tee the green is very inviting and reachable for a very long hitter. The fairway has no bunkering until really close to the green where two fairway bunkers pinch the approach. The green is also open in front with two deep bunkers flanking the right and left of the green. The key to the hole is the small and narrow green that also has a very steep bank of fairway in front of the green. This makes the pitch extremely delicate pitch. Finding yourself in the left or right fairway bunkers is the toughest bunker shot you can face. Finding yourself right, left or long all leads for a tough recovery shot considering the shape and pitch of the green, even short is no bargain because how much higher the green is than the fairway. A great short four test your judgment and nerve with obvious risks and rewards. The best ones lull you into playing aggressive when you shouldn’t – this describes the 7th well.

Runner up: The 4th at Highland Links (from the old tee)

Best Par Five

The 18th at Capilano offers the best finishing hole in Canada and my favourite par five. The tee shot is uphill between a series of Thompson bunkers where placement is at a premium. The second shot is a classic risk and reward scenario where you either take your shot aggressively to the upper right fairway leaving an easy short approach between the bunkers; or you play to the lower fairway leaving a tough semi-blind shot over very deep bunkers to the green. The green has plenty of slope and provides the final touch on this terrific three shot par five. Finally the setting is one of the greatest in Canada, the hole plays by the spectacular clubhouse, the mountains are infull view when you look back down the hole and the city of Vancouver can be seen in the distance from the green.

Runner up: The 14th at Summit Golf & Country Club


Henry E said...

I don't know if you want anyone to debate your opinions on your blog? I'll take a risk and disagree with your choice of Banff's #4 as the best par 3. While I think the hole has a stunning view and that little lake/pond is part of the scenery, it really doesn't come into play unless one hits a poor shot or mis-clubs. I think the hole could have been better if the green was located adjacent/closer to the water and brought it more into play. Just my 2 cents.

BTW, do you think that the amphitheatre is natural or that Thompson moved a lot of dirt around?

Anonymous said...

I thought we had agreed that Highlands was the best course when you could not get SG to win the match play?

Having played it again yesterday, I do not think it is as close as it once was...

Best routing - HL, far more difficult to craft that track than SG...


Ian Andrew said...


I think the green sitting on the plateau is far more clever than right against the water. It provides an opportunity for the weaker player to still make the heroic carry without having to be perfect.


As a group we had a concensous 1 up for HL, but I still personally match play it as 1 up SG. The routing at St. George's is still a better use of terrain, while Highland is still a better site.