Canada’s Top 100 Public: Anti-Climactic Endings & Future Prospects

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On this website, we enjoy Top 100 lists, and we certainly do not feel like we are lying to you by posting them. Truthfully, they are a fixture in golf course discussions at just about every facility, and we want to contribute, nay, further, kindle, ignite those discussions.

Top 100 Public lists are deserving of much more attention than just the standard Top 100 lists. After all, everyone can play the golf courses, and if you play 5 of the golf courses for 25 years, you could, in theory, finish the list. We couldn’t say the same about our Top 100 list, which includes private golf courses: James Island? Good luck. Goodwood? Mount Bruno? The big tickets that almost nobody gets.

With the release of our Top 100 Public list today, as compiled by the Beyond The Contour panel (details here + full list here), keen observers will notice one main takeaway: the order is the exact same as our Top 100, even though the list dropped twelve months after the Top 100. Perhaps this is rather anti-climatic; realistically, someone could have taken the Top 100 and the “Near Misses” and compiled Canada’s Top 50 Public Golf Courses, at least as judged by the BTC panel. Not quite the ideal reveal of a list.

No. 23, Tower Ranch

There is a rather simple reasoning for this: the data did not change. Rather than having a running tally and counting those courses our panelists saw for the first time in 2022, we cut the data off after the 2021 golf season. If we were going to publish a Top 100 list in January 2022, and have the order of the public courses change twelve months later, does that not slightly undermine the order of the Top 100? In my view, that can confuse those. If Jasper Park is the 2nd best public course on our Top 100, and slips to 5th, the list weakens. If Fairview Mountain suddenly appears at 30th on our public list (it is 61st public, for context) but is nowhere to be found on our Top 100, would they not feel cheated? I know I would be confused by the ranking if everything changed twelve months later.

A small panel allows us the freedom to do this. Our criteria did not change for either list—it is the same process, with the same lack-of-set categories, nitpicky questions, and random numbers that complicate the system. 17 panelists contributed, but they really didn’t have to do anything: we took the same data from the 2022 Top 100. The data is cycled through in two-year cycles, meaning whatever we get for the Top 100 is also what we put out for the Top 100 Public. When we send out the ballot this fall, that data will not only help us put together the 2024 Top 100, but also 2025 Top 100 Public.

No. 50, Lakeview Golf Course

Perhaps it is rather boring that Lakeview is the 50th best public golf course and the 120th best golf course in Canada (but still 50th public). Maybe someone wanted to see Cabot Cliffs and Cabot Links switch, but they remain the way they are on our Top 100. Simply put, our goal is to put out useful, fresh, and interesting information. If that sacrifices some of the “wow” factor in selling these lists because something changed from list-to-list, so be it.

Looking ahead, however, there will be some small changes to both lists. Not only are we expanding the panel to 30 people, to include more voices, more backgrounds, demographics, opinions—all that good stuff—but we are also going to include nine hole golf courses in the ranking system. Will any make it? That is a great question. Should any? I can think of a few for both. We are not exactly sure how it will work. Currently, we are working out the kinks in the system, but come this fall, raters will see a ballot with a handful of some of Canada’s best nine hole golf courses, a first for any ranking, worldwide.

Uplands, a Stanley Thompson nine hole golf course in Toronto


  • 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!

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