Canada’s Top 100: The Near Misses (No.’s 101-125)

Making a top 100 is the créme de la créme in the country. With over 2,300 golf courses in the country, there are lots of golf courses to celebrate in Canada! The list of 25 golf courses below are great layouts that just missed the elusive number, yet still loved by our panel. Here are Beyond The Contour‘s near misses: the courses we ranked from 101st to 125th.

To view the methodology on how we ranked the golf courses, click here.


Course writeups courtesy of Andrew Harvie & Zachary Car.

Each photo is given credit unless otherwise stated, as such it belongs to Belong The Contour.

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125. Le Maître

Mont-Tremblant

13th in Québec

Architect:

Gene Bates with Graham Cooke & Darrell Huxham

Year Built:

2001


A popular getaway for ClubLink members from Ottawa and Montreal, Le Maitre’s setting is undoubtedly among is most spectacular in eastern Canada. The golf course itself, a 2001 Graham Cooke and Gene Bates collaboration (with Fred Couples’ name and signature attached to sell real estate), has its own identity in the landscape, with large mounds, holding ponds, and an odd mix of waste areas and flashy, fingered bunkers.

The course is best where Cooke and Bates applied restraint and let the land dictate the golf, such as on the mid-length par 4, 3rd, the leftwards sweeping 11th around a sharp hillside to a green draped naturally over the land, and the par 3, 17th with a deceiving roll short of the green that partially obscures the tee shot. 


124. Rideau View

Manotick

59th in Ontario

Architect:

Howard Watson & Robbie Robinson

Year Built:

1958 & 1961

Ongoing Work From:

Ian Andrew

Photo credit: The Golfing Canuck


A joint venture from Robbie Robinson and Howard Watson in 1958 and 1961, who constructed the front and back nines three years apart, respectively. As a result, the golf course is solid, if slightly unspectacular, with its strength being more the sum of its parts rather than the individual holes themselves. That is not to say, however, that there are not a few standouts among the eighteen: favourites include the sharp-bending 7th with a pair of well-placed bunkers along the inside that dictate the strategy from the elevated tee; the severely canted—and controversial—9th green; and the strong run from 11th to 15th, highlighted by the long par 4, 12th playing uphill to a blind surface.


123. Taboo

Gravenhurst

58th in Ontario

Architect:

Ron Garl

Year Built:

2002

Upcoming Work From:

Jack Nicklaus Design

Photo credit: courtesy


Florida based architect Ron Garl only has a couple of Canadian golf courses, but his Muskoka excursion through the swampy, rocky land remains his best effort.

In fact, the swamp and rock do most of the talking here, which is a nice change of pace from some of the other standout Muskoka golf courses. Garl’s restraint in not only the routing, which remains walkable, and hazard selection puts an emphasis on fun.

Take the sandy par 3’s at the 3rd and 12th, both playing entirely over a waste bunker, a concept rarely found in a region such as the Muskoka’s.

Fear not, traditional Muskoka rock lovers, as the 18th employs a massive rock outcropping akin to a Leven template that’s sure to satisfy your craving.


122. Lambton

Toronto

57th in Ontario

Architect:

Tom Bendelow, Rees Jones

Year Built:

1902

Photo credit: XGD Systems


With a résumé that includes Tom Bendelow, Stanley Thompson, and Donald Ross, it’s no wonder Lambton is held in high regard. Yet it is Rees Jones’ golf course we see and play today.

The golf course is situated on the Humber River and Black Creek, maximizing its interactions with water on the 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th, 10th, 12th, and 14th. Surprisingly from Rees Jones, centreline bunkers are employed twice on the 7th and drivable 13th, which asks the golfer to avoid them on their tee shot and layup, respectively.

The finishing three holes are a gruelling finish of this stout 7,100 yard layout. Is there a Canadian Open in Lambton’s future?


121. Crowsnest Pass

Blairmore

16th in Alberta

Architect:

Les Furber, Gary Browning

Year Built:

1995

Photo credit: Visit Lethbridge


What started out as a Les Furber design quickly became a Les Furber & Gary Browning child following a land swap with one of the local mines. The switch allowed the golf course to go up into the mountainside more and leave the highway holes in history. Now, the golf course is better, with more interesting playing corridors and interest around the greens.

Those who were fond of the old layout should not panic. The current 6th/old 13th remains, yet improved around the green from Mr. Browning, as did the 8th, which has essentially stayed the same. The new holes are mostly the star of the show though, with the heavily forested 11th, the tiny par 3, 12th, and the magnificent quasi-drivable par 4, 16th being absolutely stellar. The 17th is of the original Les Furber quirk, while the 18th does everything but avoid the cliché of the uphill finishing hole.


120. Lakeview

Mississauga

56th in Ontario

Architect:

Herbert Strong

Year Built:

1922

Ongoing Work From:

Cam Tyers

Photo credit: Sky Snap


Courtesy of Herbert Strong’s brilliance/madness, Lakeview provides one of the best daily-fee options for golfers looking to experience the Golden Age of Design. While Toronto Golf Club plays above and over its meandering stream across Dixie Road, Lakeview seems to get up close and personal, benefitting from the interactions on the 1st, 5th, 8th, 12th, and the closing three holes. In fact, Herbert Strong’s routing is so clever that readers might not even realize the golfer interacts with the stream early in the round.

The real star of the show, as typical with Herbert Strong’s golf courses, is the wickedly contoured greens. On one’s maiden voyage, the three tiered 9th, or even the turtleback 5th may stand out, but the 15th, which falls away from the golfer, or the 18th perched high above like a Knoll template are some of the recurring favourites. As one of our panelists mentioned: “Incredible greens.  In my opinion that is a major trump card which vaults this course ahead of those with just great views.”


119. Predator Ridge

Vernon

21st in British Columbia

Course:

Predator

Architect:

Les Furber, Doug Carrick

Year Built:

1991

Photo credit: courtesy


The land between Kelowna and proper Vernon is quite hilly and rocky, yet the Predator course manages to find a small parcel of land that seems suitable for golf. In fact, Predator Ridge’s Predator course sticks out amongst the other British Columbian golf courses because of its distinct identity. Gone are the towering evergreens and cart-only golf, traded in for wispy golden brown natural grasses and a (mostly) walkable golf course (it gets difficult at times, but do-able). We will not call it faux-links, but there is something idyllic about standing on 10 green and taking in the surroundings of the natural grasses and the surrounding holes.

Among the collection of Les Furber’s best golf holes, the short par 3, 13th, without a bunker, has some wicked contour that makes for some devilish pins, and the par 3, 17th tucked into the hillside is inspiring. Doug Carrick’s work in recent years has softened some of the extreme features found on the opening four holes to make for a better experience.


118. Château Montebello

Montebello

12th in Québec

Architect:

Stanley Thompson, John Watson

Year Built:

1929


The term “good bones” is often tossed around, yet it perfectly summarizes Château Montebello, once considered Thompson’s sixth-best course. Years of neglect have kneecapped this great course, and now, there is likely not a more exciting candidate for a proper restoration in Canada.

Even amidst all of the overgrown, deterioration and the out-of-place remnants of dreadful renovations, Thompson’s brilliance continues to shine. Among the standout holes, the unique 1st with two large rocky outcrops that shield most of the fairway from the tee is an exciting opening hole, the rugged par 4, 2nd with a wild quasi-hog’s back fairway and a devilish green set perilously against another rocky outcrop, the brilliantly deceptive par 4, 11th, and the par 4, 15th with a clever bunker complex along the inside of the dogleg all vouch for why “The Toronto Terror” is Canada’s greatest architect.


117. Gorge Vale

Victoria

20th in British Columbia

Architect:

A.V. Macan, Les Furber

Year Built:

1927

Photo credit: Jeff Mingay


Somewhere in between the flatter golf courses down closer to the ocean and the hilly properties up the mountain, Gorge Vale is a strong routing from A.V. Macan, which takes full advantage of the land movement of the site.

Macan’s routing is a true shotmakers playground, where the small and undulating greens working around the hillsides make the golfer play a wide array of shots. Also sprinkled in, a plethora of half-par holes provide a unique pacing, and a round of golf made for betting at this player club.

Perhaps the most identifying feature of Gorge Vale comes on the 423 yard par 4, 12th, where the Veterans Cemetery (God’s Acre) National flanks the right side of the hole.


116. Riverside

Rothesday

2nd in New Brunswick

Architect:

Donald Ross, Ron Pritchard

Year Built:

1937

Photo credit: courtesy


Donald Ross’ prolific New England career ended up bleeding over to the Maritimes a handful of times, and thankfully, Riverside, near St. John, New Brunswick, remains. American Ross expert Ron Pritchard is partly to credit here, who brought back Ross’ bunker style on numerous holes, like the short 8th.

In reality, the hilly property sloping towards Kennebecasis Bay lends itself to great golf. Holes like the short par 5, 2nd, with its attractive bunkering scheme near the green and the dry ditch running up the left is old world cool. The same can be said about the 3rd with its heavily canted fairway, the pushed up green at the 16th. Fans of exquisite ending one-shot holes will be fond of the brilliant par 3, 18th at Riverside, tumbling down the hillside with the Bay in the back and a deception bunker short.


115. Black Bear Ridge

Corbyville

55th in Ontario

Architect:

Brian McGee

Year Built:

2005

Photo credit: courtesy


One of the few homemade efforts in the country, owner-turned-architect Brian Magee put his own vision in the dirt.

Magee’s first and only foray into architecture is commendable, though somewhat of a mixed bag. On holes such as the 4th, 7th, 14th, and 15th he practiced exemplary restraint, allowing the tumbling land to be the prominent feature; however, on holes such as the awkward 1st with a tree that overhangs the right half of the green, the 6th with a centre-line hazard that is entirely off-scale, the strange 11th, which was originally a par 6, and the sharply-climbing 16th where Magee painted himself into a corner with the routing, one wonders if consulting a professional architect would have greatly enhanced the overall product. Nevertheless, Black Bear Ridge is still an excellent option, and among Canada’s best.


114. Bear Mountain

Langford

19th in British Columbia

Course:

Mountain

Architect:

Jack Nicklaus

Year Built:

2003

Photo credit: Marriott Hotels


The original of the two golf courses at Bear Mountain, the Mountain golf course lost the fight with housing developments, which eventually led to a re-route and the 19th betting hole being included in the proper routing (now the 14th hole, pictured above).

As opposed to the Valley course, which goes for the more rugged, blown out bunker style, the Mountain is slightly more polished, instead electing for the grass face style bunkers. As such, some of the “stadium” aspects of the TPC Network are used here, such as the island green par 3, 10th and the difficult uphill finishing hole.

The uphill par 5, 13th and par 3, 16th round out a very impressive finishing six holes among the “best in class” of the Golden Bear’s catalog.


113. Wildfire

Lakefield

54th in Ontario

Architect:

Thomas McBroom

Year Built:

2003

Photo credit: courtesy


Located in the heart of cottage country north of Peterborough, Wildfire features a wonderfully varied layout that traverses woodland, marsh, open-field, and Canadian-Shield. The course is best where the land is most dramatic, such as on the wildly tumbling par 5, 4th, the clever and strategic par 4, 5th, the climbing 6th which features a number of exposed boulders all along the right side of the landing area and a green that sits wonderfully over the rumpled terrain, and, best of all, the bite-off-as-much-as-you-can-chew par 5, 12th over the corner of the marsh.

In short, there are very places in the country more pleasant to play golf at than Wildfire.


112. Islington

Etobicoke

53rd in Ontario

Architect:

Stanley Thompson, Ian Andrew

Year Built:

1923

Photo credit: courtesy


Islington sits in the golf-heavy West End neighbourhood of Etobicoke, often overlooked given its proximity to Weston, St. George’s, and Toronto Golf Club. Such a shame, as Islington not only has its own identity, but very strong merits to stand on.

The golf course itself is rather playful, effortlessly dancing around a beautiful property for golf highlighted by Mimico Creek (which dominates the back nine). As expected with a Thompson golf course, the one shot holes stand out, but some of Ian Andrew’s work, such as the green on the par 3, 6th and the wicked interpretation of the redan on the par 5, 5th, are intriguing.

As an added benefit, Islington features one of the best closing holes in the province, set against the Mimico Creek heading directly at the clubhouse with the Bloor Street skyline in the background.


111. Dundarave

Cardigan

3rd in Prince Edward Island

Architect:

Dr. Michael Hurdzan & Dana Fry

Year Built:

1999

Photo credit: SCOREGolf


On an attractive property near the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Dr. Michael Hurdzan & Dana Fry’s Dundarave was known as being overly difficult, with a large surplus of bunkers and heavy costal winds. Thankfully, bunkers have been filled in, and the remaining red sand bunkers continue to intimidate.

Aside from the difficulty, the golf holes themselves are pleasant. The routing takes the golfer out to the Brudenell River for the par 3, 5th, signature 8th, and demanding 9th, then oddly turns inland. Regardless, the gambling par 4, 16th is among the better short holes in the Maritimes.


110. Clear Lake

Wasagaming

4th in Manitoba

Architect:

Vic Creed, Stanley Thompson

Year Built:

1928


Routed through the hilly terrain of Riding Mountain National Park, Clear Lake is a great representation of our National Parks: adventurous, yet beautiful; peaceful, but something to see around every turn.

Perhaps those who yield difficulty as one of the main merits might not find Clear Lake as appealing as others on the list. After all, it is only nine yards over 6,300, and a rating of just under 70. Those who assume, well, we all know the saying.

The collection of short 4’s here are excellent, with the clever 1st tilting away from the golfer, the devilish 8th deceptively narrowing around the green, the revealing 9th, and home bound 18th all creating chances to make great scores. Beware: the brute 2nd, rumpled terrain, and the demanding par 5, 13th will keep everyone humbled, but not without a few birdies. Perhaps the lesson of a wonderful place like Clear Lake is match play reigns supreme, and scorecards be damned.


109. Green Gables

New Glasgow

2nd in Prince Edward Island

Architect:

Stanley Thompson, Robbie Robinson, Thomas McBroom

Year Built:

1939

Photo credit: Evan Schiller


Set near the Gulf of St. Lawrence on the Lake of Shining Waters and in the Greenwich Prince Edward Island National Park, Green Gables is just one of a couple opportunities Thompson got to work near (or on) the ocean, but unfortunately the oceanfront holes have since been lost.

What remains is an interesting mix of Thompson, Robinson, and McBroom’s heavy-hand, but nonetheless, chock full of quality. The routing itself is quite interesting: the front nine wraps around itself on some mildly undulating terrain, while the back wanders out to the Lake of Shining Waters before climaxing on the epic par 3, 16th with Thompson’s own version of C.B. Macdonald’s fingerprint template.

To round out the strengths at Green Gables, it is one of the few golf courses to end on back-to-back gambling par 5’s.


108. Crimson Ridge

Sault St. Marie

52nd in Ontario

Architect:

Kevin Holmes

Year Built:

2000

Photo credit: courtesy


One of two Northern Ontario golf courses to make the top 125, Crimson Ridge is small-time architect Kevin Holmes best work. The routed is set into the rocky hillside to the north of Sault Ste. Marie, which is immediately evident on the dramatic 1st tee shot playing directly downhill over the East Davignon Creek.

The golf course has a plethora of holes worth noting, including the 2nd, a bending par 5 that slings itself down the hillside, the gambling 8th, and the two short 4’s at the 9th and 11th. Those with a camera dare not leave it in the camera for the signature par 3, 17th.

With all that is positive about Crimson Ridge, perhaps the most impressive aspect is the golfer begins their round and finishes on a downhill tee shot. Not only a compliment to the routing, but Kevin Holmes vision.


107. Copper Creek

Kleinburg

51th in Ontario

Architect:

Doug Carrick

Year Built:

2002

Photo credit: Carrick Design


Yet another Doug Carrick golf course in the GTA, although distinctively carrying its own identify separate from the trio at TPC and Eagles Nest (a compliment and highlight). Copper Creek’s routed initially takes us down into the East Humber River valley on the outward nine, before finishing in the flats above the valley on the inward nine.

We prefer the opening nine, where the short and clever 3rd entices the golfer, the 4th toboggans down the hillside, the narrow 5th offers reprieve from the width, and the par 3’s at the 6th and 8th are equally engaging. The 12th and 15th are both interesting par 4’s to highlight what makes Copper Creek great.


106. Heron Point

Alberton

50th in Ontario

Architect:

Thomas McBroom

Year Built:

1991

Photo credit: RBC Canadian Open


A popular choice for those discussing the best course under the ClubLink portfolio, Heron Point came early in Thomas McBroom’s career, which is both an asset and a downfall. The routing works itself around Dunmark Lake, where both nines come to a heroic conclusion over the lake to the base of the clubhouse.

Early McBroom’s style is apparent, with smaller bunkers and sharp ridges dividing the greens into tiers. The routing is quite strong though, starting in the meadows and ending in a forested and swampy stretch. Our personal favourite is 12-14 routed in a triangle.


105. Northumberland Links

Pugwash

4th in Nova Scotia

Architect:

Robbie Robinson & Bill Robinson

Year Built:

1964 & 1988

Photo credit: courtesy


Set on a gorgeous site on the Gulf of St. Lawrence and down the road from the popular Fox Harb’r Resort, Northumberland Links benefits from being able to see the Gulf (and PEI) from almost every hole.

While not a traditional Links, there are certainly elements Robbie & Bill tried to recapture, such as many low-lying greens, and of course the interaction with the coast. Although limited to “Lobster Pot,” the 204 yard par 3, 4th—an odd choice to come that early in the golf course—it sticks in the golfers mind throughout the round.

Our panelists identified the 441 yard par 4, 16th, which is flanked by a creek up the entire left-hand side working its way back towards the Gulf and PEI, as one of the better holes on property.


104. Beverly

Copetown

49th in Ontario

Architect:

Robbie Robinson, Doug Carrick

Year Built:

1957

Photo credit: The Golfing Canuck


If there was one word to describe Beverly, its old school. Indeed, a golf course as pleasant as this must not be susceptible to being over-described, when in reality such joys are discovered upon ones maiden voyage.

One aspect of Robbie Robinson’s career we all take for granted was his ability to craft greens that provide interest. Beverly stands as one of his best designs, and given its high status, the green complexes are rollicking with a smile on the golfers face… or, perhaps a frown if one is above the hole.

Perhaps our favourite aspect of Beverly’s routing is how it uses the natural topography to slowly crescendo towards the end of the round, letting the golfer working their way into the golf course, yet ending on a high note.


103. Bear Mountain

Langford

17th in British Columbia

Course:

Valley

Architect:

Steve Nicklaus for Nicklaus Design

Year Built:

2009

Photo credit: The Golfing Canuck


Sites as hilly and rocky as Bear Mountain’s valley course shouldn’t produce such great golf, and yet, Steve Nicklaus’ creative problem solving provides an exhilarating loop outside of Victoria.

The use of rocky outcroppings is sparsely used in British Columbia (outside of maybe the Ridge at Predator Ridge), and draws more inspiration from the Canadian Shield of Northern Ontario. Pairing with the elevation change of a mountain golf course and you get a rocky roller coaster of a golf course—in the most fun way possible.

The golf course climaxes on the long “S” shaped par 5, 15th hole, which climbs slightly back up against a pond left, but the par 3’s are particularly noteworthy throughout.


102. Glencoe

Calgary

15th in Alberta

Course:

Forest

Architect:

Robert Trent Jones Jr.

Year Built:

1987 & 2015

Photo credit: Allsquare Golf


Built by the great Robert Trent Jones Sr.’s son a few years after helping his dad on nearby Kananaskis’ project, Glencoe is one of the best shotmakers golf courses in Canada. To no one’s surprise, the Forest has earned a reputation as a players golf course, with many current and former Golf Canada Team Members calling this golf course home.

What makes Glencoe so difficult? The scorecard length is a brute at 7500 yards, but demanding iron shots are to be found here, playing over expansive and creative bunkering. The surrounds themselves repel balls further away, providing difficult chip shots—often playing to downslopes—to the golfer.

Of course, difficulty is both a compliment and stigma based on who you talk to, but there is no denying the quality of the 2nd, 3rd, 9th, and the finishing three holes.


101. Camelot

Cumberland

48th in Ontario

Architect:

Thomas McBroom

Year Built:

1991

Photo credit: courtesy


Located on a bluff overlooking the Ottawa River, Camelot features an intriguing mix of parkland, faux-links, and, even, precipitous holes. Much like the land it traverses, though, the golf course is rather uneven, with the highs being extremely high and the lows being low. The best parts of the layout include the par 4, 2nd which requires the golfer to avoid the same diagonally running creek off the tee and on the approach, the short but treacherous par 4, 3rd, the downhill 9th with a clever kicker up the right and a deceptively hidden green, the plunging par 3, 11th featuring small green cut into the side of a steep hill, and the picturesque 12th overlooking the river and Gatineau hills beyond.

We continue to question the motivation of holes such as 8th, 14th, and the truly odd 16th, but the positives far outweigh the negatives.


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