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A Comparison Of Lists: The Similarities, Big Differences, And Questions

Another year, another Top 100 list. Just as we counted down in February, SCOREGolf is back for 2022/2023’s Top 100 in Canada. Naturally, hot takes have polluted the social media airwaves. Cries of “overrated” or “how could this be top 10?” have flooded comments, Twitter threads, discussion boards, and various discourse in person… and yet, rarely are they objective in their assessment. With that being said, comparisons between Beyond The Contour‘s Top 100 and SCORE‘s Top 100 has quickly become one of my favourite things to track. Here is what we found.

Exclusively ranked courses

A whopping 21 different courses between the two rankings this year. 21% of the list is different in courses represented alone. Here are the courses that are exclusive to each list.

SCOREGolf 2022/2023

  • Dundas Valley, 99th
  • Credit Valley, 98th
  • Le Maitre, 97th
  • Kananaskis (Mt. Lorette), 96th
  • Taboo, 95th
  • Bayview, 92nd
  • Glen Abbey, 91st
  • Predator Ridge (Predator), 90th
  • Royal Montreal (Red), 89th
  • Copper Point (Point), 88th
  • Eagle Ranch, 85th
  • Bear Mountain (Valley), 82nd
  • Deer Ridge, 81st
  • Nicklaus North, 80th
  • Wildfire, 76th
  • Copper Creek, 74th
  • Dundarave, 73rd
  • Northern Bear, 70th
  • Black Bear Ridge, 63rd
  • Windermere, 58th
  • Glencoe (Forest), 51st

Beyond The Contour 2022/2023

  • Lachute (Thompson), 99th
  • The Nest at Friday Harbour, 97th
  • Terra Nova (Twin Rivers), 94th
  • Derrick, 92nd
  • Oshawa, 91st
  • Redwood Meadows, 90th
  • Priddis Greens (Hawk), 88th
  • Whitewater, 85th
  • Marine Drive, 84th
  • Dakota Dunes, 83rd
  • Waterton Lakes, 80th
  • Elmhurst, 76th
  • Thornhill, 75th
  • Oakdale (Thompson/Homenuik), 73rd
  • Pine Ridge, 72nd
  • St. Charles (Ross/Mackenzie), 68th
  • Kelowna, 62nd
  • Grand-Mére, 61st
  • Kawartha, 44th
  • James Island, 28th
  • National GC of Canada, 15th

Off the bat, remote courses favoured better on Beyond The Contour‘s list. Our best guess? Size of the panel. SCOREGolf operates with roughly 100 panellists, while Beyond The Contour‘s is roughly a fifth of that. James Island, for example, is one of Canada’s most exclusive golf courses, yet it hit the critieria to qualify for our list. With SCOREGolf, 10 panellists are not playing James Island in seven years. Additionally, Grand-Mére, St. Charles, Pine Ridge, Elmhurst, Waterton Lakes, Whitewater, Terra Nova, and Lachute are not in traditional golf destinations, and likely do not meet the criteria to qualify for SCOREGolf.

On the other hand, SCOREGolf favours the “established” courses, likely because their panel (and website/magazine) is far more established than Beyond The Contour. Courses like Glen Abbey, Northern Bear, Predator Ridge’s Predator course, Nicklaus North, Windermere, and more have been associated with these lists for decades at this point. Seniority matters when you are the voice of Canadian Golf. On our end, the “red-headed stepchild” comes out, and we lean towards off-beat choices.

Biggest Drops, SCORE to Beyond The Contour

  • Stewart Creek (30th on SCORE, 93rd on Beyond The Contour: 63 spots)
  • Kananaskis, Mount Kidd (34th on SCORE, 89th in Beyond The Contour: 55 spots)
  • Port Carling (40th on SCORE, 82nd on Beyond The Contour: 42 spots)
  • Big Sky (42nd on SCORE, 81st on Beyond The Contour: 39 spots)
  • The Pulpit (23rd on SCORE, 52nd on Beyond The Contour: 29 spots)
  • Rocky Crest (36th on SCORE, 65th on Beyond The Contour: 29 spots)
  • Mickelson National (20th on SCORE, 46th on Beyond The Contour: 26 spots)
  • Bigwin Island (33rd on SCORE, 59th on Beyond The Contour: 26 spots)
  • Talking Rock (62nd on SCORE, 86th on Beyond The Contour: 24 spots)
  • TPC Toronto, North (54th on SCORE, 78th on Beyond The Contour: 24 spots)
  • Georgian Bay (53rd on SCORE, 74th on Beyond The Contour: 21 spots)

This is, of course, misleading. Mickelson National, for example, is an excellent golf course worthy of a high ranking. After all, we have it 46th! Talking Rock is another example. A true favourite of anyone who plays, and certainly deserving of being in the Top 100. Each one of these courses are well worth playing, but there are some differences in where we see them in the upper-elite of Canada’s best golf courses. The biggest difference? Stewart Creek, with a whopping 63 spots between where we rank it vs SCOREGolf.

Biggest Drops, Beyond The Contour to SCOREGolf

  • Cataraqui (48th on Beyond The Contour, 94th on SCORE: 46 spots)
  • Lookout Point (25th on Beyond The Contour, 71st on SCORE: 46 spots)
  • Rosedale (29th on Beyond The Contour, 68th on SCORE: 39 spots)
  • Scarboro (36th on Beyond The Contour, 72nd on SCORE: 36 spots)
  • Maple Downs (39th on Beyond The Contour, 65th on SCORE: 26 spots)
  • Waskesiu (64th on Beyond The Contour, 83rd on SCORE: 19 spots)
  • Algonquin (42nd on Beyond The Contour, 60th on SCORE: 18 spots)
  • Laval, Green (60th on Beyond The Contour, 78th on SCORE: 18 spots)
  • Tarandowah (58th on Beyond The Contour, 75th on SCORE: 17 spots)

The Closest Amongst The Two

Variance is difficult as opinions change based on the demographic of panellists. What about the courses that are ranked the closest in the two lists? Must be within 5 spots. Here are the courses SCORE & Beyond The Contour see eye-to-eye on.

  • Cabot Cliffs (no change)
  • St. George’s (no change)
  • Jasper Park Lodge (no change)
  • Öviinbyrd (no change)
  • Muskoka Bay (no change)
  • Eagles Nest (no change)
  • Cabot Links (+/- 1 spot)
  • Capilano (+/- 1 spot)
  • Banff Springs (+/- 1 spot)
  • Westmount (+/- 1 spot)
  • Predator Ridge, Ridge (+/- 1 spot)
  • Riverside (+/- 1 spot)
  • Cape Breton Highlands Links (+/- 2 spots)
  • The Paintbrush (+/- 2 spots)
  • Humber Valley (+/- 2 spots)
  • Coppinwood (+/- 2 spots)
  • TPC Toronto, Heathlands (+/- 2 spots)
  • Ottawa Hunt, Gold (+/- 2 spots)
  • Brantford (+/- 2 spots)
  • Toronto (+/- 3 spots)
  • Blackhawk (+/- 3 spots)
  • Sagebrush (+/- 4 spots)
  • Weston (+/- 4 spots)
  • Cherry Hill (+/- 4 spots)
  • Royal Colwood (+/- 4 spots)
  • Beaconsfield (+/- 5 spots)

25% of the respective lists are within 5 spots of each other, 21% of the list features exclusive golf courses to each list, and 20% of the list moves more than 17 spots between the two lists. As a result, 34% of the list moves 5-16 spots.

Combined List

With two lists such as this, the “average” is almost as fun as the individual lists. With 21% different courses between the two, if one course is represented on one and not the other, they’ll receive a fill-in grade of 125th in Canada. From there, the two scores are averaged. In the case of Cabot Cliffs, St. George’s, and Jasper, which are ranked 1-3 on both lists, the average will be easy. With Stewart Creek, Lookout Point, or Scarboro, it might be different than expected.

  1. Cabot Cliffs (1)
  2. St. George’s, (2)
  3. Jasper Park Lodge (3)
  4. Cabot Links (4.5)
  5. Capilano (5.5)
  6. Hamilton, West/South (7)
  7. Cape Breton Highlands Links (7)
  8. Banff Springs (7.5)
  9. Toronto (8.5)
  10. Paintbrush (10)
  11. Sagebrush (11)
  12. Westmount (12.5)
  13. Blackhawk (13.5)
  14. Öviinbyrd (14)
  15. Beacon Hall (14.5)
  16. Memphrémagog (18.5)
  17. Mount Bruno (20)
  18. Coppinwood (20)
  19. Victoria (20.5)
  20. Muskoka Bay (22)
  21. Greywolf (22)
  22. Goodwood (23)
  23. Shaughnessy (23)
  24. Calgary (23.5)
  25. London Hunt (28.5)
  26. Humber Valley (29)
  27. Tobiano (30)
  28. Predator Ridge, Ridge (31.5)
  29. Weston (33)
  30. Mickelson National (33)
  31. Summit (35)
  32. Pulpit (37.5)
  33. Laval, Blue (39)
  1. St. Thomas (40)
  2. Redtail (40)
  3. Cherry Hill (42)
  4. Royal Montreal, Blue (42)
  5. Essex (43)
  6. TPC Toronto, Hoot (44)
  7. Links at Crowbush Cove (44)
  8. Bigwin Island (46)
  9. Mad River (46.5)
  10. Royal Colwood (47)
  11. Wolf Creek, Links (47.5)
  12. Lookout Point (48)
  13. Rosedale (48.5)
  14. Mississaugua (49.5)
  15. Eagles Nest (50)
  16. Rocky Crest (50.5)
  17. Algonquin (51)
  18. Maple Downs (52)
  19. Scarboro (54)
  20. TPC Toronto, Heathlands (55)
  21. Ottawa Hunt, Gold (56)
  22. Port Carling (61)
  23. Wolf Creek, Old (61.5)
  24. Big Sky (61.5)
  25. Kananaskis, Mount Kidd (61.5)
  26. Stewart Creek (61.5)
  27. Ridge at Manitou (62)
  28. Tower Ranch (62.5)
  29. Riverside (63.5)
  30. Georgian Bay (63.5)
  31. TPC Toronto, North (66)
  32. Tarandowah (66.5)
  33. Laval, Green (69)
  1. Burlington (69)
  2. National Golf Club of Canada (70)
  3. Brantford (70)
  4. Cataraqui (71)
  5. Royal Mayfair (72.5)
  6. Waskesiu (73.5)
  7. Talking Rock (74)
  8. James Island (76.5)
  9. Royal Ottawa (76.5)
  10. Cobble Beach (78.5)
  11. Kawartha (84.5)
  12. Vancouver (87.5)
  13. Glencoe, Forest (88)
  14. Point Grey (89.5)
  15. Magna (90)
  16. Fairmont Chateau Whistler (91)
  17. Windermere (91.5)
  18. Grand-Mére (93)
  19. Kelowna (93.5)
  20. Black Bear Ridge (94)
  21. St. Charles, Ross/Mackenzie (96.5)
  22. Beaconsfield (97.5)
  23. Northern Bear (97.5)
  24. Pine Ridge (98.5)
  25. Oakdale (99)
  26. Dundarave (99)
  27. Copper Creek (99.5)
  28. Thornhill (100)
  29. Elmhurst (100.5)
  30. Wildfire (100.5)
  31. Waterton Lakes (102.5)
  32. Nicklaus North (102.5)
  33. Deer Ridge (103)
  34. Bear Mountain, Valley (103.5)

In truth, SCOREGolf‘s Top 100 this year is a vast improvement over recent years. Waskesiu, Tarandowah, Talking Rock and Vancouver are in. Even Royal Montreal’s Red course debut has us jealous. Certainly a great “B” side from an era under-represented at the top in Canada (rightfully so, or not).

Still, one has to wonder what SCOREGolf sees in those mid-modern golf courses clinging onto the list (à la Glen Abbey, for example). Yes, they had their time and heyday in Canadian Golf. Also true, those days are long gone. Glen Abbey, while a suitable course to host the TOUR, has not been particularly riveting in some time, and with advancements in access to knowledge on golf architecture (The Fried Egg, online books, Golf Club Atlas, etc), one has to wonder if the days of modern golf built for championships is done. Likewise for resort towns, where golf is the centrefold of a housing development. No interest in stimulating golf. Rather, the concept of “shooting a good score” is the premise of many of these layouts, should the housing not contrive the layout further.

One big question, however, is how much will excluding The National Golf Club of Canada affect SCOREGolf? Beyond The Contour has it 16th; Top 100 Golf Courses has it 13th; Golf Digest has it 2nd; Golfweek has it 14th best modern; and of course, SCOREGolf had it 2nd in 2020. Yes, the membership policy excludes women from joining, but the ramifications are yet-to-be-seen.

Regardless, 2022/2023’s list is a worthy step in the right direction to getting the courses that should be ranked onto the list. From here, it is all about getting those that should not be on, off. From there, getting the order (ish, it will never be perfect) close. Consider this a success!

Author

  • Andrew Harvie

    Based in Toronto, but having lived in Alberta, British Columbia, Montana, Arizona, and Texas, I have been lucky enough to see over 400 golf courses and counting!

1 thought on “A Comparison Of Lists: The Similarities, Big Differences, And Questions

  1. Great summary Drew. I find it very interesting to compare all the lists available as well. I frequent Top 100 Golf Courses and write a fair number of reviews there nowadays. And as you noted in your summary, many ScoreGolf raters are travelling around their home location or to resorts across Canada rather than seeking out relatively unheard of courses like Northumberland Links, Grand Mere, Kenogamis, or Lachute to name a few. While conditioning wont be up to par with a private club, it is these types of courses which build the foundations for golf in Canada. As I learn more about courses in Canada it is the tracks off the beaten path that drive me to explore the country more and more.

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