Monday, August 27, 2007

Top 50 in Ontario – Part 2 – My List and what didn’t make The List

I have an early flight Tuesday - so here is the post now - although I likely will post something that evening about where I am and what I'm doing.

Turns out after I identified my top 40 with all potential conflicts of interest (clubs I've worked with) I was dropped from the panel.

Here is my List

1. St. George’s
2. Hamilton
3. Toronto
4. Westmount
5. Devil’s Paintbrush

6. National
7. St. Thomas
8. Eagle’s Nest
9. Catarqui
10. Scarboro
11. Lookout Point
12. Bigwin Island
13. Oviinbyrd
14. Weston
15. Summit
16. Rosedale
17. Essex
18. Burlington
Burlington is a great Stanley Thompson gem that lays out great hole after great hole until you get to the 17th where you wonder if you crossed the road to the wrong golf course. The long par fours like the 1st, 13th and 15th are standouts and the green sites are consistently interesting. The routing is a clever use of a small piece of land where Stanley used some of the best fill pad green sites to make it extra tough on the approaches.
19. Osprey Valley (Heathlands)
20. Highlands CC
Highlands is the gem that nobody knows. The George Cumming / Stanley Thompson design makes excellent use of a really interesting piece of terrain right in the heart of London. The long fours are memorable particularly with the small targets surrounded by bunkers. The threes are varied and interesting and the fives are all exciting with plenty of character. Not one weak moment on this course yet nobody pays attention.
21. Brantford
22. King Valley
23. Red Tail
24. Beacon Hall
25. Angus Glen South
26 Maple Downs
This may have to do more to do with access than anything else. Maple Downs is a great (largely) Jewish club with a small family based membership. It also occupies a wonderfully hilly piece of ground that leads to some really wonderful holes – with a few like the 10th and 13th being wonderful despite being quite unconventional. There are many standouts from the 3rd, 9th, 10th, 14th, 15th and 17th – so much great golf.
27 Glen Abbey
28 Kawartha
Imagine playing an intact Thompson course with bunkering every bit as good as St. George’s, but with a bit more room to enjoy your game. Go to Kawartha, this is ‘The” hidden gem in Canada with wonderful terrain, really tough par threes, lots of short fours and all the fives are reachable and exciting holes to play. This is a great example of Thompson’s traditional approach of mixing fun and difficulty in even measure.
29 Lake Joseph
In certain moments, I would call this the best that Muskoka golf has to offer, and in others instances there are holes that truly make you question the routing. I think at times Tom took a few more risks than normal and many of those moments work well, other times it doesn’t, but I’d still rather play there than Rocky Crest any day.
30 London Hunt
31 Georgian Bay
32 Osprey Valley (Pine Barrens)
33. Ottawa Hunt
OK so some of the greens are over the top – 5 have already been rebuilt back since Lorne’s article criticizing the course during the Women’s Canadian Open, but underneath all that is a great rolling property with beautiful undulating fairways and lots of interesting shots. I think the course has been dismissed because of the criticism in the past – and yes a few greens are still too much – but otherwise this is still a course worth seeing.
34. Deerhurst Highlands
35. Thornhill
Another course with so many great holes, and yet never gets the attention it deserves. Find a better and more varied run of holes than the 9 through 13. The 17th was always a weak point but Cam Tyers did a wonderful job making changes and the rest of the courses is pretty strong. There are average holes, but none are bad, which can’t be said of many far higher ranked courses on the list. I prefer the course to many of the modern courses that draw far more attention.
36. Rocky Crest
37. Greystone
38. Cherry Hill (worked at)
39. Bond Head (south)
I must admit I go back and forth on this course. I love sections of it like the 2nd and 4th and struggle with other areas like the opener and finishing holes on the front nine. The back nine opens well but a few holes are a bit much like the 15th which has no options around the green. Largely strong, but a little overshaped for my taste.
40. Mad River
Great set of greens, many interesting holes like the 2nd and 6th while others like the 4th hold back the design. I always wondered about the routing on the back nine and whether that was the ideal way to deal with the property. Many great holes out there but others like the finisher leave you a little under whelmed.


Anonymous said...


No Muskoka Bay? No Ridge at Manitou? No Oakdale, Taboo or Mississauga?

Anonymous said...

No Pulpit?

henrye said...

Bond Head overshaped - agreed. Ditto for Bigwin to some extent & Magna even more.
Still wondering about the multi-dimensional St. George's, which everyone seems to feel is the best.

Anonymous said...

Muskoka Bay was left off due to a clear conflict of interest. I have not seen the Ridge at manitou.

There are a few popular clubs that I don't really care for from Magna to Mississauga to The Pulpit.

Ian Andrew

Evan said...

I think your list more acurately represents the best in Ontario. Obviously everybody has different tastes, but for anybody wishing to find out about the great courses in Ontario I think they should use your list as a guide. I would love to see a list done entirely by architects. Hopefully most of them have sought out many courses for reference.

I think the main problem with "Best Of" lists is that not everybody that has played many golf courses is qualified to compare their merits, and many people that are qualified, haven't played enough courses.
One thing to nit pick though. You keep forgetting the last "a" in Cataraqui. Time and time again.

Keep up the good work,

Ian Andrew said...


I do - oh boy - your right over an dover too!

We need to meet to play,


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