It’s here! Introducing: Beyond The Contour‘s Top 100 golf courses in Canada. This list represents the very best golf in the country. Out of just over 2,300 golf courses, our panel of eighteen of some of the most astute architecture enthusiasts and well-travelled golfers identified the beau monde. Coast-to-coast—from Victoria, BC to Port Blandford, Newfoundland—and everything in between, each province is represented at least once (sorry Yukon, NWT, and Nunavut).
To view how we ranked the golf courses, click here.
To view the courses that just missed our top 100, click here.
To read “Changing of the Guard and a Letter To The Past,” click here.
Course write-ups courtesy of Andrew Harvie & Zachary Car unless otherwise stated.
Each photo is given credit unless otherwise stated, as such it belongs to Beyond The Contour.
100. Point Grey
17th in British Columbia
Duncan Sutherland, Riley Johns
Photo credit: Par Six Golf
Like nearby Marine Drive and Shaughnessy, Point Grey is set in the boujee neighbourhood of Point Grey on the shores of the Fraser River, but the interactions with the actual river are limited, coming only into the golfers view on the short par 4, 4th, and again briefly at the 7th tee/6th & 15th green.
Instead, the golf course primarily plays inland, where it deals with some of the more subdued terrain. The obvious highlights come when the routing takes the golfer back into the hillside where the clubhouse sits. The 11th and 18th play back into the hillside, while the 1st and 12th tumble down.
In recent years, Riley Johns, whose résumé includes working for Tom Doak and Bill Coore, renovated the 8th-10th to make way for a new driving range. This led to a more creative style of golf, and one in which we hope to see translate to the rest of the golf course.
9th in Quèbec
Albert Murray, Stanley Thompson
Photo credit: courtesy
An unusual ensemble for Stanley Thompson, featuring six par 3’s, six par 4’s, and six par 5’s, Lachute stands out amongst his large catalog for that exact reason, and likewise a part of why Lachute is worthy of being amongst Canada’s Top 100.
The par 4 cast, while slightly thinner, are a strong grouping nonetheless. From the opening 460 yard brute, to the short 358 yard 12th, there is a bit of everything mixed in. A handful of par 5’s, including the gargantuan 3rd immediately followed by the short 4th, are particularly of interest.
Like a majority of Thompson golf courses, the one-shot holes are always good, and the same rings true at Lachute. Among the group, the 2nd, long 5th, and short 13th are the most enticing to our senses.
16th in British Columbia
Mike Gardner & Alex Duthie, Ted Locke
Upcoming Work From:
Photo credit: The Golfing Canuck
One would think that “Vancouver Golf Club” would be situated in the actual city limits of Vancouver, but that is not the case here. Instead, founding members elected to set up camp in Coquitlam, some 24 kilometres from the city centre. As such, the course benefitted with a hillier property, and one could argue better golf.
The dramatic property is evident on the opening stretch, where the 1st-3rd tumbles down the mountainside. As does the monster 6th, which reveals one of the best city views in the country. The 18th reveals the same view, a laborious par 4 working its way back down to the clubhouse with the Lower Mainland in the background.
Sure, the back nines routing, which primarily works its way east/west, gets a bit redundant at times, but those who play Vancouver will fall in love with more than its idyllic setting.
97. Friday Harbour
47th in Ontario
Doug Carrick & Scott Vanderpleog
Photo credit: Bringfido
The second-newest course on our list, and a great representation of Doug Carrick’s ability to change with the property, The Nest at Friday Harbour is mostly played in the manufactured rolling hills and then concluding in the wooded forest.
The golf course attempts to base its style off the links land across the pond, but instead ends up being closer to the TPC Network south of the border. Regardless of minor discrepancies, the rumpled terrain provides some excellent golf. The short 2nd, for example, cut above its surroundings and narrowing towards the back, is not only an exquisite par 3, but among the “first in class” short 3’s in Canada. The same could be said for the par 5, 7th, a gambling par 5 with bunkers seemingly eating into the fairway before ending at the base of the Friday Harbour lighthouse.
Perhaps the most interesting feature of Friday Harbour is the bunkering, which is directly cut into the fairways and seems to draw inspiration from the Melbourne Sandbelt.
96. Chateau Whistler
15th in British Columbia
Robert Trent Jones Jr.
Photo credit: Golfpass
Perhaps more than any other golf course on this list, Chateau Whistler’s bracing start—highlighted by the ridiculous par 4, 3rd climbing up the mountainside—provides the most difficult opening four hole stretch on the top 100. Yet it’s once Robert Trent Jones Jr. transports us to the top of the mountain that we see the benefits. That is not to say there is no difficult golf to be found coming home. The par 3, 8th with a massive rock outcropping right and water left is incredibly demanding, but the par 5’s on either side provide an interesting juxtaposition: the 7th slides downhill, while the short 9th climbs abruptly. The inward stretch of golf is much more user-friendly working its way down the hillside back towards Whistler Village, but we are partial to the one-shot holes, which offer two distinctive looks at downhill par 3’s.
8th in Quèbec
Willie Park Jr., Stanley Thompson, Darrell Huxham
Upcoming Work From:
Jeff Mingay & Christine Fraser
Golf has been played at Beaconsfield since 1902, but the golf course we see and play today is courtesy of Stanley Thompson post-World War Two. Thompson was brought in to renovate Willie Park Jr.’s layout, set to be segregated by Highway 20, and as a result, Thompson took most of Park Jr.’s routing and reversed it. Those wishing to see what Park’s original Beaconsfield would have looked like should spend a couple extra minutes on the putting green near the 1st, which remains the only green left.
Especially noteworthy is a clever routing here, which plays up and down a limestone quarry around the clubhouse. Certain holes fall off (1st, 12th), others play up (9th, 11th) while others sit at the bottom and use the topography as a backdrop (18th, and Thompson’s famous “Quarry” par 3, 15th). Across the highway is less inspiring, but upcoming work from Jeff Mingay & Christine Fraser is sure to restore one of Thompson’s most ambitious projects.
94. Terra Nova
2nd in Newfoundland & Labrador
Robbie Robinson & Doug Carrick
1981 & 1989
Photo credit: Wikipedia
How many golf courses can lay claim to playing over an active waterfall? That’s the case at the par 3, 18th at Twin Rivers. A benefit of being in the lesser-populated Newfoundland & Labrador allows the golf course to interact with nature more than perhaps any other layout on the list.
There is some tranquility taken away from the Trans-Canada Highway running through the middle of the layout starting at the 6th, yet the golf course continues to provide notable features. Indeed, one would be hard-pressed to find another golf course other than Cypress Point featuring back-to-back par 3’s and par 5’s—the 11th & 12th beautifully spread apart at 157 and 243 yards, while the 15th/16th offers a chance to make up strokes at 510 and 543 yards respectively.
Those who make the 2-hour drive must avoid “Mary, Joseph, and Jesus,” a group of three bunkers near the 16th green that can wreck a scorecard.
93. Stewart Creek
14th in Alberta
Photo credit: Breaking Eighty
Following in the footsteps of golf’s great architects like Stanley Thompson and Robert Trent Jones Sr.—each building courses nearby—is never an easy feat, but that reputation is even harder to live up to when it is in the Canadian Rockies. Calgarian architect Gary Browning managed to rise to the occasion with his magnum opus.
Holes such as the par 5, 6th, with its incredibly canted fairway bleeding into a split upper/lower layup area have a one up on the flatter golf courses in the valley, while the 11th, with its centreline tree and the ability to play left or right, is unique in its own way. The opening par 4 is among the single best ways to stand a round of golf in the Great White North.
13th in Alberta
In recent years, many of the private clubs without much historical pedigree began to struggle. Golf architecture had become stale and as a result, less interest in playing. Such is the case at Derrick, or that was until Jeff Mingay and George Waters came in and completely turned the property on its head.
Gone are the days when interesting golf is a fleeting thought at Derrick. In fact, it is scattered throughout the entire property. The 4th, a tricky drivable par 4 shows Mingay’s mind is busting with brilliant ideas. Ditto for the 6th, with its almost Dell style green sunken into the surroundings. In complete contrast, the 11th features a centralized nipple near the green that deflects shots away from the middle of the green.
Such action undertaken as Mingay’s complete overhaul of a property to bring exciting golf back to a club should be celebrated, as evident by its debut placement on any top 100 list in Canada.
46th in Ontario
Upcoming Work From:
Martin Ebert & Tom Mackenzie
Photo credit: courtesy
What has been usually thought of as a Stanley Thompson design is actually a George Cumming layout, though Thompson touched bunkers up here. Regardless, the bones are good enough for international architects Mackenzie Ebert & Tom Mackenzie to take on a renovation job.
In truth, Oshawa features everything that makes an old school layout great. The rumpled fairways meandering around a tantalizing property make for good golf, and when paired with a natural creek, the recipe for fun was sitting right there.
Perhaps the highlight of the round comes on the stretch from the 11th to the 13th, dubbed “Oshawa’s Amen Corner” by members, or the par 3, 18th, playing to a green set at the base of a natural amphitheatre fronted by Oshawa Creek.
90. Redwood Meadows
12th in Alberta
Stan Leonard & Phillip Tattersfield
Ongoing Work From:
Photo credit: courtesy
Owned and operated by Tsuu T’ina Nation, Redwood Meadows is hewn through the pines and foothills of southern Alberta. The golf course is most noted for the consistency of the golf without any major offences or quirks, while the personality of the routing comes from the contrast between the forested hills on the front nine and the interaction with Bragg Creek on the back nine. In particular, the golf course concludes with a brutish pair of holes to make for an unforgettable finish starting at the 614 yard par 5, 17th—a three shot hole for all but the longest of hitters. The finishing long two shotter, maxing out at 14 yards under 500, with bunkers on the left guard the best angle to the green, it is a classic finish that leaves a good, yet stern taste in one’s mouth.
We submitted our ballots before any of us could lay eyes on Gary Browning’s work, but we hope the renovation has only added some shine to this unassuming golf course. -Ben Malach
11th in Alberta
Robert Trent Jones Sr., Gary Browning
Photo credit: courtesy
Following the devastating floods in 2013, Kananaskis was completely washed away, and as a result, Robert Trent Jones Sr.’s golf courses were gone. Thankfully, the provincial government was keen on restoring what had been lost, and controversially, local architect Gary Browning was selected to handle the job. Brownings work mostly brought back what had been lost, but softened many of Trent Jones features in the name of playability (something RTJ Sr. was not particularly known for).
Fans of the old layout will remember the excellent stretch of golf starting at the par 4, 3rd until the wild par 5, 6th as the routing prances its way between the Kananaskis River and an assortment of small creeks. The golf course closes on a gambling long par 5, where matches can be won or lost with a variety of shots.
88. Priddis Greens
10th in Alberta
Bill Newis, Wade Horrocks
Photo credit: CREB
Being far enough from downtown Calgary makes Priddis Greens an oasis away from the bustling city, yet close enough that it has always been a staple on lists such as these. As a result, the club hosts two eighteen hole layouts, but we see the spacious Hawk routing as the preferred of the two.
The opening five holes are mostly up on the top of the property near the clubhouse until the dramatic par 4, 6th, and it is this drop into the valley that poses some of the most interesting questions for Bill Newis. The solutions to such questions provide some of the most exciting golf holes, such as the elaborate 8th and the heroic 11th. In recent years, southern Alberta architect Wade Horrocks has touched up the golf course, but the fact remains that the par 5, 18th continues to be a disappointing finish to an otherwise pleasant golf course.
45th in Ontario
The concept of large-scale golf courses was foreign in Canada post-Stanley Thompson, but at the turn of the century, Rod Whitman and Doug Carrick individually began to expand playing corridors and build big golf. As a result, Magna remains one of the first examples of a big ballpark post-World War Two. In fact, at times, the scale is overwhelming, such as the 15th where the par 5 tumbles down the hillside left, or playing in the valley near the end of the front nine.
Those who find their way onto this very exclusive, small membership golf club will notice how difficult the opening stretch is: a demanding dogleg right long par 4 followed up with an all-carry par 3 over water.
86. Talking Rock
14th in British Columbia
Graham Cooke & Wayne Carleton
Photo credit: courtesy
A routing from Les Furber and a golf course from Graham Cooke and Wayne Carleton is not only a unique collaboration, it is the only original project they both worked on. And yet, Talking Rock provides such a fun joyride through the mountains of the Interior, we almost wish there was more opportunity for future projects.
The golf course itself has fallen victim to more intensive marketing schemes of other golf courses of nearby resort towns of Kelowna and Kamloops to the point where Talking Rock flies way under the radar. Similarly, the town of Chase is like the golf course: subdued, yet pleasant; almost hidden to anyone who has not been, but a favourite among those who have.
The closing four holes provide one of the most rambunctious third acts of any golf course our panel has seen… in the most exciting way possible.
44th in Ontario
Photo credit: Visit Northwestern Ontario
Perhaps separation from most of McBroom’s catalog in the Muskoka and Greater Toronto Area helps provide a more clear outlook on Whitewater, but there is no denying the quality of golf he left on the shores of the Kaministiquia River. The routing brings the golfer to the river twice: once on the front nine for the demanding par 4, 4th, and again using the river as the backdrop for the par 3, 13th. While most will remember the interactions with the water, the 2nd, 6th, and 15th all provide inspiring inland holes that keep the golfer engaged.
What perhaps is most striking about this northern Ontario golf course is McBroom’s bunker style, which is somewhere between Tobaino and Öviinbyrd in terms of how dramatic it is. Yet, the balance between those two extremes, and the added artistry in what shapes, patterns, and groupings he chose make this not only among the best bunkering in his own catalog, but in Canada.
84. Marine Drive
13th in British Columbia
A.V. Macan, Jim Urbina
Upcoming Work From:
In an ideal world, an architect has ample room to choose the best piece of ground to lay a routing on top of, but at Marine Drive, A.V. Macan only had 92 acres sandwiched between the hillside above the clubhouse, and the Fraser River. And yet, Marine Drive is a perfect example of ideal not always being more fascinating, at least when dissecting an architect’s strengths.
In truth, Marine Drive is a testament to Macan’s ability to fit golf in on a small site. Aside from the small acreage suitable to build on, the routing itself has some distinct features to stand out: four of the five the par 3’s play into the corners of the property (the 16th does not), and the finishing six holes dance down and out of the hillside, cultivating with the downhill dogleg left tee shot with the clubhouse looming in the background.
The surrounds, fall offs, and rolls of the greens at Marine Drive only add a cherry of one of Canada’s great golf courses.
83. Dakota Dunes
3rd in Saskatchewan
Graham Cooke & Wayne Carleton
In a country dominated by the Canadian Shield and the Boreal Forest, sandy soils ideal for golf are difficult to come across. Thanks to a surplus in Saskatchewan, Dakota Dunes has the privilege of grounds ideal for golf, and as such, the golf ended up being of quality.
Astutely, our panelists were fond of the strong set of par 4’s: the tumbling long par 4, 4th through the pseudo dunescape; the blind 5th; the maze of bunkers at the 8th; the demanding 12th; and the gambling, drive and pitch 13th are all incredibly diverse.
Interestingly, the course ends on a 3-5-3-5 finish, highlighted by the signature drop shot 15th and a massive blowout bunker behind the 18th green.
82. Port Carling
43rd in Ontario
Photo credit: Golf Town
Golf is played on a variety of properties that provide an interesting puzzle for architects to solve. On a property as severe as Port Carling, Thomas McBroom’s solution to the problem had to be clever. His decision? Route the golf holes directly into the hillside, making this mere, 6400 yard golf course play noticeably longer (and more difficult) than it lets on.
Of the notable holes, the short par 4, 7th would be suitable in a “Best in Muskoka” list, and likewise for the par 3, 16th, which reminded us of “Wishing Well” at Capilano.
In recent years, McBroom, who lives nearby, has updated the layout. With an improved golf course—notably the eye-candy bunkering—Port Carling feel much newer and closer to the current Thomas McBroom style than his past archetypes.
81. Big Sky
12th in British Columbia
Bob Cupp & John Fought
Photo credit: Whistler Wired
As opposed to other British Columbian courses, most commonly dancing up in the mountains on rather hilly terrain, Big Sky sits at the base of Mount Currie through the marshy flatland below. As a result, comparisons to the Low Country in South Carolina or Florida are apt, though sitting in the base of a beautiful mountain range certainly provides a pretty spectacular setting.
Given how flat the property is, the talented duo of Bob Cupp and John Fought relied on green complexes to shine. For example, the 5th, a short par 3, is a devilish little one shot hole on the banks of the Green River with rolled edges surrounding the green. The 8th has a wonderful kicker slope over the bunker short, while the 16th repels balls off the left (with water right). Isn’t it impressive what two great architects can do with a flat site?
80. Waterton Lakes
Waterton National Park
9th in Alberta
Bill Thomson, Stanley Thompson
Upcoming Work From:
LOBB + Partners
Photo credit: Toronto Golf Nuts
Perhaps the most shocking inclusion if one has not been to Waterton Lakes, it can be difficult to describe what makes this windswept layout such a joy to play. Indeed, the saying “if you know, you know” applies to Waterton Lakes in the purest sense. The joys of playing in the mountains of southwest Alberta—practically in Montana—cannot be understated, but the rambunctious nature of the layout gives way for the most entertainment. In just the four opening holes, the golfer is met with two drivable par 4’s (one of which plays to a Dell style green) and a long, blind par 3. From there, it is easy to see how this layout, winding its way around the meadows and the forested property high above the valley, is different.
If there is one takeaway from Waterton Lakes, it is that golf is supposed to be fun. Gambling, addictive golf courses like this should be celebrated.
79. Royal Mayfair
8th in Alberta
Stanley Thompson, Ted Locke, Les Furber
Photo credit: courtesy
Out of any province not named Ontario, Alberta had the most influence from Stanley Thompson. Edmonton in particular benefitted from being the Capital city, and as a result, Royal Mayfair still stands tall amongst his big catalog of great golf courses. In fact, Thompson’s graceful mosey through the tall evergreens on the shores of the North Saskatchewan River remains one of the best member courses in the country, only slightly tainted by recent work from Ted Locke and Les Furber.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Mayfair is the variety presented on the two three-shot holes: the 3rd bends dramatically to the left backed up with a slew of bunkering the closer the golfer gets to the green; and the 14th, bending to the right narrowing to a cheeky to a cheeky green complex tucked into a cozy pocket of the property.
78. TPC Toronto
42nd in Ontario
Photo credit: SCOREGolf
The north course at the very popular Osprey Valley facility is almost overwhelming, where the theme is big, and then even bigger in the scale of the fairway width, bunkering, and greens. Given the sheer size of the golf course, a lesser architect might lose the plot or perhaps build golf holes devoid of strategy, yet Doug Carrick is almost textbook in the play lines, angles, and concepts.
Holes like the par 5, 13th, with its heavily canted fairway to the right demonstrate this perfectly, or the long par 4, 2nd, with bunkering cut into the hillside left and the green accepting shots better from (you guessed it), the left. When the golf is best comes when the land talks, as it does on the blind tee shot over a ridge at the 16th, or the gentle drop to the par 3, 14th, said to be inspired by Alister Mackenzie’s Royal Melbourne.
41st in Ontario
Stanley Thompson, Doug Carrick
Photo credit: courtesy
Those driving back from Niagara Falls might notice a bit of golf on Lake Ontario to the left, and that’s Burlington, which is one of only a handful of golf courses on the Lake, though only the par 4, 17th is on the lake and used as a backdrop of the short 16th.
Without the lake as a real factor, most of the interest at Burlington comes from the micro-movement in the ground, such as the ridge on the 3rd/4th/5th/11th/12th or the extreme fall offs around the 9th. The macro-undulations, such as the gully the 1st & 2nd straddles, or the valley the 13th plays down into and the 15th plays over, are most appealing.
In addition, Burlington is one of four golf courses on the list to end on a par 3.
3rd in Manitoba
Donald Ross, Ron Pritchard with Dan Philcox
Photo credit: courtesy
An old saying in the architecture community rings true yet again at Elmhurst: Donald Ross and sand are a dangerous combo. As is Donald Ross when he’s routing a golf course. In fact, on Google Maps, it can be difficult to figure out the routing, though while playing it makes sense.
The sharp bunker edges, courtesy of Ron Pritchard’s master plan and the talented trio of shapers in Riley Johns, Trev Dormer, and Dan Philcox, beautifully capture of the essence of a “hazard,” and more specifically, a Donald Ross hazard. Steep grass faced bunkers with flat sandy bottoms are intimidating from the 1st hole, and specifically pop on the par 5, 5th.
Other than the seductive bunkers and creative routing, unusual features, such as the small ditch to the left of the 14th green and the fall-away green on the 17th are unusual and rare, yet incredibly stimulating in practice here. Ditto for the gambling short par 4, 18th, which is an underutilized trope in the golf architecture world.
40th in Ontario
Stanley Thompson, Doug Carrick
Photo credit: courtesy
Those who keep up with history will recognize Thornhill as the location of Byron Nelson’s record-setting 11th straight PGA Tour title in 1945. A cool memento, but the actual architecture, courtesy of Stanley Thompson, shines nearly 80 years later. In fact, a young Stanley Thompson managed to find golf holes on a rather small and hilly property before any of his “big five,” a testament to the talent brewing.
In fact, Thornhill follows many of Stanley Thompson’s “ideal golf course” principals for the front nine. The golf course opens with a manageable par 4, without a par 3 until the 5th to avoid congestion, and a single par 5 in the second half of the nine after the first par 3. The back nine throws the script out—for the better—and finishes on a high note.
74. Georgian Bay
39th in Ontario
Jason Straka for Hurdzan/Fry Design
Photo credit: Straka/Fry Design
As the name suggests, Georgian Bay Club sits in close proximity to Georgian Bay, overlooking the gorgeous body of water. The setting is obvious from the get-go, with Lake Huron acting as a backdrop on the par 3, 3rd, but the scale of the golf course is the biggest takeaway for most.
The combination of large green complexes and inviting fairways provides a sense of comfort, yet the immediate juxtaposition of the massive, flashed faces and sharp shaping take some peace of mind away. Oftentimes, most of the excess width comes on the outside corner of the doglegs, rarely being the preferred route to the green, yet still allowing golfers to lose fewer balls than normal.
The architecture community often gets wrapped up in the household names building big golf courses with width, yet Georgian Bay is a nice reminder that other firms do it well, providing a different outlook on the same archetypes we are used to.
38th in Ontario
Thompson & Homenuik nines
Stanley Thompson, Ian Andrew
Photo credit: courtesy
Recently awarded the 2023 and 2026 Canadian Open, readers can take solace in knowing the Canadian Open did not influence our ranking, though we suspect Oakdale will become better knowing in the coming years across the nation.
The forthcoming hype for Oakdale is long overdue, but Ian Andrew’s recent work on Stanley Thompson’s original layout is a key factor. Many will be surprised at the subtleties that make this layout challenging. Canted fairways make it difficult to hold fairways unless the golfer works it into the slopes.
As an added benefit, Black Creek touches numerous holes on property. Oakdale is another fine example of what a noteworthy architect, fruitful contours (no matter how big or small), and a meandering creek is a recipe for success.
72. Pine Ridge
2nd in Manitoba
Tom Bendelow & Donald Ross
Photo credit: courtesy
Directly across the street from No. 76 Elmhurst and also having the privilege of calling Donald Ross the architect at large, Pine Ridge stands as the better of the two for our group of panelists.
If Elmhurst feels closer to some of Ross’ best parkland work, Pine Ridge draws similarities to the sand hills of North Carolina. Devilish false fronts and roll offs are a key component of the charm of the routing. The wickedness of Ross is beautifully demonstrated on the frighteningly titled green at the 1st; or the famous/infamous par 3, 9th, up to perhaps the most extreme upside bowl green in the country.
Whether the credit belongs to Ross’ renovation or Tom Bendelow’s original golf course is a mystery, but back-to-back par 3’s at the halfway mark, the Biarritz green on the 15th, or the handful of greens running away from the line of play are among the most unique features to be found in northeast Winnipeg.
37th in Ontario
Nicol Thompson, Robbie Robinson, Ian Andrew
Upcoming Work From:
Rod Whitman & Keith Cutten
Photo credit: courtesy
Brantford Golf & Country Club dates back to the 1870s, but the golf course we play today is courtesy of Brantford’s Head Professional and Stanley Thompson’s brother Nicol in 1919. The property itself is quite dramatic, starting up in the flats above Grand River before diving into the bottom of the valley on the 3rd & 4th hole.
Most of the golf course itself stays well below the height of the clubhouse, though many of the highlights come when the routing works itself into the hillside. The golf course really hits its stride starting at the par 4, 7th working its way back uphill, making way for the 8th, 9th, and 10th to play in the hillside before the 11th falls off.
Rod Whitman & Keith Cutten’s upcoming work will be the firm’s introduction to Ontario, surely breathing life into this venerable old school layout.
70. Cobble Beach
36th in Ontario
If a golf course has an “Eden” and a “Redan” template, one would likely think it’s a C.B. Macdonald or a Seth Raynor. And yet, Cobble Beach is a Doug Carrick design with both. The “Redan” par 3, 8th and “Eden” par 3, 17th are of course notable golf holes that stand out amongst the crowd, but many of the holes that play away from the Georgina Bay are charismatic as well.
The par 5, 7th, tumbling down towards the Bay cresting over the hill is a beautiful par 5 entrenched in its surroundings. Likewise to be said about the long par 4, 13th, also working its way back down towards the Bay crossing a ravine. As expected on a Carrick, the green complexes are good, if a rather subdued to match with the pseudo-links style of Cobble Beach.
69. Royal Ottawa
7th in Québec
Tom Bendelow, Willie Park Jr., Neil Haworth
An old-school club like Royal Ottawa ought to have an old-school, quirky golf course to match the vibe… right? That is absolutely the case of this Gatineau club, interestingly situated across Ottawa River from downtown.
While the loss of the excellent par 3, 2nd for safety issues was sad to see, the routing still takes full advantage of one-shot holes. So much so, in fact, that the 11th and 12th have back-to-back 3’s in a set of quintuplet short par holes. Granted, many of the old school clubs rely on the par 4’s to do the heavy-lifting. At Royal Ottawa, the tumbling piece of land makes way for tighter landing areas where the golfer is best suited to play to, making the yardage feel (and play) longer.
We are always partial to a finishing hole set at the base of the clubhouse overlooking those that play the 18th, and Royal Ottawa has one of the best.
68. St. Charles
1st in Manitoba
North & South nines
Donald Ross & Alister Mackenzie, Mike DeVries
1919 & 1929
Upcoming Work From:
Such an extreme juxtaposition in the style of two nines is typically not a winning combo, yet Alister Mackenzie & Donald Ross’ architecture perfectly compliments each other at this Winnipeg club. The reality, of course, is a star-studded cast usually produces a quality result.
Mackenzie’s nine came a decade after Ross rolled through town on his way to Banff Springs, and to our group, the better of the two. Mackenzie’s ability to route a golf course takes centre stage, with a gathering point after the 4th/6th deciding a creative way to get nine holes in. Fans of Mackenzie’s work will particularly like the wildly contoured 2nd and the ridge running through the 8th, among other neat subtleties.
The Ross nine gets the benefit of playing in close proximity to the Assiniboine River, though it would rarely come into play. The green on the 2nd, 3rd, the entire 9th hole, and the contours on the 7th (minus the awkward tee shot) are enough to propel “St. Chuck” to Manitoba’s #1 ranking.
67. Ridge at Manitou
35th in Ontario
Like No. 65 Rocky Crest, The Ridge at Manitou is much more reserved than earlier McBroom efforts, but a little more dramatic terrain posed a difficult routing question. As a result, the routing is much more a wandering soul working its way through the rocky, swampy terrain.
The par 5’s are something of an anomaly with five total, but rarely do golf courses have such a collection of three-shot holes. The 1st, playing through a rocky outcropping shoot and the par 5, 18th tumbling towards Manitouwabing Lake bookend the golf course brilliantly, while the 10th covers some of the more undulating terrain in 578 yards.
Of the collection of par 4’s, the drivable 2nd and long, rolling par 4, 8th seem to be the most common standouts amongst our contributors.
66. Tower Ranch
11th in British Columbia
Many of the modern golf courses in the Okanagan Valley are draped over the hillside high above the flatter valley bottoms, but the majority are poorly executed and unsuitable for golf. That may have applied to Tower Ranch had Thomas McBroom not found flatter portions of the mountainous terrain to route golf holes on.
The peculiar choice to route the initial three holes directly down the slope is unique, but the routing benefits from it by allowing golfers to ease into the round. Most of the middle portion of the golf course climbs uphill, best highlighted by the long par 4, 6th and short uphill 11th, which then sets up the drama coming home.
The two tee shots on the 13th and 15th play across a canyon are dramatic, but we tend to be partial to the par 3, 12th with an attractive bunkering scheme, and the par 5, 17th side-winding its way to an infinity green. The par 4, 18th playing around a bunker reminiscent of the Himalayas bunker at St. Enodoc, is a great way to end a thrilling round of golf.
65. Rocky Crest
34th in Ontario
Muskoka golf is best suited to sitting in a cart, but first time visitors to Rocky Crest will be happily surprised to notice it is completely walkable. A great reminder that the terrain at Rocky is not overly hilly, and certainly a positive in our eyes.
Those looking for drama will absolutely find it at the par 5, 6th with its massive rock outcropping, or the par 3, 8th playing across a ravine, or the drivable par 4, 15th. Perhaps the biggest compliment to Rocky Crest is what it does away from the Instagrammable moments. The par 3, 14th is a clever little short par 3, though the illusion of the bunkers some 30 yards short is lost after playing the 13th.
2nd in Saskatchewan
J.K. Atkinson, Stanley Thompson
Golf in the British Isles feels as if they just laid a blanket of grass over the rumbled, sandy terrain and enjoyed playing over the natural contours. Sans the sandy base, Waskesiu provides the same excitement—a true rarity in Canada. In fact, it would be difficult to find a golf course that ties into its surroundings better than Waskeiu as it so elegantly dances in Prince Albert National Park.
Whether Stanley Thompson actually contributed to the design remains contested to this day, but if he did, a handful of holes would fit right in with some of his best holes. For example, the dramatic short par 4, 11th plays up and over a ridge before falling sharply downhill to a green cut on grade. For most, a wedge awaits, but the green’s severity insists that the ball must land short.
If one is not a fan of rumbuctious terrain, blind shots, fun, drama, and of course, good golf, they must avoid Waskesiu, but to our liking, it fits right at home on a Top 100 list.
1st in Saskatchewan
Bill Kinnear, Graham Cooke & Wayne Carleton
The old school country club’s in bigger cities are not like this. In fact, Riverside is distinctly “prairie:” down to earth, yet friendly; welcoming, yet those who cross it will be punished.
There’s very little here that jumps off the page and immediately makes the golfer fall in love, but if we’re being honest, we prefer a wine that lingers in our mouth longer. Subtleties like small ditches just shy of the green make it punitive not having home course advantage. On the other side, the 1st’s wildly contoured fairway favours no one.
Like a great story trying to stick the landing by tying up loose ends, Riverside ends on the epic 388 yard par 4, 18th sitting high above the North Saskatchewan River valley directly to the left. It is a fitting conclusion to one of the most unassuming clubs in the country, and yet, that is all part of its charm.
10th in British Columbia
A.V. Macan, Graham Cooke & Wayne Carleton, Jeff Mingay
A melting pop of architects coming together is not always a winning combination, and realistically, Kelowna was a bit of a mess until Jeff Mingay’s work. Years later of trying to blend the Les Furber, Graham Cooke/Wayne Carleton, and the original A.V. Macan, and the results speak for themselves: Kelowna is a major player.
Part of the benefit of playing in the bottom of the valley is more subtle terrain in comparison, but there is more than enough interest in the land here to give way to interesting golf. Holes like the 5th and 8th narrow in landing areas that make it difficult to find the fairway, whereas the 16th or even 1st play to generous landing zones. Some greens are perched high above the surroundings, like the 7th and 15th, while others, such as the 11th and 13th, sit on grade. The variety in shots is the ethos of the golf course.
We would be doing Kelowna a disservice if we did not mention the epic 444 yard par 4, 10th, among the best long par 4’s in the province.
6th in Québec
C.H. Alison & Walter Travis
1917 & 1922
The duo of Hugh Alison and Walter Travis are not exactly likely to turn up in Shawinigan, Quebec, but given this placement on our list, Canada is lucky that they did. In fact, their collaboration here is one of the couple properties they both touched, including Milwaukee, Sea Island, and oh, Pine Valley.
Walter Travis was the first to lay hands on this originally Albert Murray golf course, and when Alison showed up five years later, he had to figure out a way to interweave Travis’ seemingly polar opposite style with his. What remains in a master class in compression and release: Travis’ fierce style opens the golf course with the first five bruisingly introducing the golfer to Grand-Mere before Alison offers a reprieve at the 6th. Travis is back from the 9th & 10th before Alison brings us home starting at the 11th.
Of the notable highlights, the 4th is among the best short four’s in the country, while the stretch from 13 through 17 seems to draw inspiration from Alison’s time at Pine Valley.
5th in Québec
Willie Park Jr., Ian Andrew
Willie Park Jr. was actually quite prolific across the country, but he called Montreal home during his time in North America (at one point, he was even Mount Bruno’s head professional). Somewhat surprisingly, Mount Bruno and Laval’s Green course are the only two remaining Park Jr.’s in greater Montreal.
All the classic calling cards of a Willie Park Jr. are to be found at the Green. Smaller, devilishly contoured greens that make the best putters question their prowess. A modest length by today’s standards, but a thought-provoking layout requiring the golfer to strategically plot their way around.
Is this the best “B” side golf course in the country? There is most certainly an argument for it.
59. Bigwin Island
33rd in Ontario
Part of the rating process is to ideally put aside any outside influences and only focus on the golf course, but at Bigwin Island, is that possible? The experience itself is part of the lure of such a place, where the golfer takes a ferry to the island in order to play Doug Carrick’s north Muskoka gem.
Naturally, the golf itself is quite good at a place that carries so much weight. Carrick’s width exposes the golfer to a sense of comfort, until greenside where the bite matches the scale. Oftentimes, the angles matter and a prerequisite to a good result requires a bold shot closer to hazards.
In a golf course full of standouts, the 6th and 18th are dramatic and obvious fan favourites, but we’re also fond of the sweeping par 4, 14th, working its way down the hillside.
32nd in Ontario
A pseudo-links experience in the rolling hills near London, Tarandowah is rightfully coined “Tarandowah Golfers Club.”
The rugged nature of the golf course is accredited to Dr. Martin Hawtree, who brought his consulting and design experience from many storied Irish and Scottish links courses to this rural Ontario farmland. As expected, many trademark links characteristics can be found here. Small, distinctly difficult pot bunkers coupled with firm fairways and whipping fescue in the wind would grant an exemption for anyone who thinks they’re in the United Kingdom.
Some of the best moments occur when the landscape appears to trick the eye, such as the par 3, 3rd, tucked behind a small ridge, the par 5, 15th seemingly going on forever, or the slew of bunkering on the final hole. Upon repeat visits, one realizes the secrets in the dirt are part of the charm of Tarandowah. -Alex Hunter
57. Ottawa Hunt
31st in Ontario
South & West nines
Willie Park Jr., Dr. Michael Hurdzan
Routed over a wonderfully rolling, sand based property, Ottawa Hunt’s “Gold” Course (the South and West Nines) was recently overhauled by Michael Hurdzan’s firm, and the reception has been largely positive, especially on and around the greens, where his firm eliminated and softened many of the tiers and swales that Thomas McBroom introduced in his prior renovation of the course in the mid-1990s. Some might argue that the two new holes—the 13th and the 14th, which were built to accommodate the new range—are awkward and out of place; however, there is no denying that they have added drama and excitement, particularly the drop shot par 3, 13th to a glover-leaf green fronted by a water hazard.
Otherwise, Hurdzan’s effort highlighted and further emphasized the strengths of Willie Park’s original layout. The collections of par 4s is varied and thought provoking, especially on the front nine, where the land is best. The par 5, 6th, with a diagonal tee shot across a hazard to a thin strip of fairway, is another highlight.
56. Wolf Creek
7th in Alberta
Canada never got a Pete Dye design in his illustrious career, but if he ever ventured north, Wolf Creek’s Old course helps us visualize what it might have looked like. In truth, Rod Whitman built the Old during his tenure under Mr. Dye, and a result, small, heavily-contoured greens and railway ties define the Old.
Granted, the benefits of such a captivating golf course are far bigger than Mr. Dye’s shadow. Rod’s own perspective on golf architecture is evident. The golf course effortlessly balances the two landscapes by weaving its way in between: the open, links-inspired landscape on the 1st-3rd, 5th-10th, 15th, 17th-18th, and the tight tree lined golf holes at the 4th, 11th-13rd, and 16th. Among the many standout holes, the par 5, 5th playing over a ravine, the demanding par 4, 9th, and the short par 5, 11th stand tall in Rod Whitman’s impressive body of work.
55. Mad River
30th in Ontario
Bob Cupp’s résumé is not overly long in Canada, but the three of his four original designs made this list—Mad River sitting in the middle. No. 81 Big Sky and upcoming Beacon Hall usually do not receive common talking points on how difficult the layout is, but at Mad River, golfers of all skill levels often talk about the demand on one’s game.
Of course, some may take us pointing out the difficulty of Mad River as criticism. Such is not the case. In reality, the difficult layout provides a great sense of balance. The stretch starting at the drivable par 4, 6th, continuing at the short par 3, 7th, and ending on the par 4, 8th balances out the demanding 2nd and 9th. The same could be said on the back nine: the 10th and 13th come early before the demanding closing stretch featuring a 237 yard par 3, a 612 par 5, and a 460 yard par 4.
54. TPC Toronto
29th in Ontario
A longtime favourite of many, the Heathlands is oldest of the trio of Doug Carrick’s designs at this highly popular public facility about forty-five minutes north of Toronto, in Caledon. Big, brawny, and difficult, the set of par 4s here is particularly strong, with the strategic 2nd featuring a cleverly placed fairway bunker that must be contended with in order to gain a view of the green, the downhill 3rd with a perched green featuring a troublesome false front, the sweeping 15th with a green guarded by sprawling bunker short and to the left, and the low-lying 13th being most noteworthy.
What elevates the Heathlands to the upper echelon of Carrick’s catalogue, however, are the putting surfaces, which are among the most undulating, devilish, and interesting he has produced, the kind we wish he had not omitted to build on most of his later courses.
Common criticism has centred primarily on the out-of-place holding pond that guards the greens of both the par 5, 9th and the dramatic drop-shot 10th, and our contributors agree that it interrupts the flow and feel of the course, though the holes, themselves, are not weak. A minor criticism in the grand-scale of what’s good at this fan favourite.
28th in Ontario
George Cumming, Donald Ross, Stanley Thompson, Doug Carrick
With such a dramatic property and perhaps the golf course with the most notable architects in Canada—which includes Stanley Thompson, Donald Ross, Robert Trent Jones Sr., Doug Carrick, George Cumming, and more—it is easy to see why Mississaugua is one of the staples in Canadian golf.
The routing crosses the Credit River no less than five times, spaced out beautifully at the 7th, 10th, and then ramping up at the 12th, 13th, before the final interaction at the 15th while climbing out of the valley.
As we begin to work our way inside the top 50 and those that just missed (like Mississaugua), the macros are always enticing: the 9th, for example, is entirely flanked by the Credit River up the right, or the conclusion working its way to the base of the clubhouse. The micro’s, such as the topography on the 2nd or the green site selection on the 16th, is where Mississuagua really grabs the heart of the golfer and sets itself apart.
52. Pulpit Club
27th in Ontario
Dr. Michael Hurdzan & Dana Fry
To the keen observer, the Pulpit course at the Pulpit Club is the grandfather of the golf-heavy region of Caledon an hour northwest of downtown Toronto. That, and it was also a monumental moment for Dr. Michael Hurdzan & Dana Fry’s career as golf architects.
As first holes go, not many get more dramatic as the Pulpit, tumbling down the hillside to this par 5-converted-to-a-4. From there, most of the front nine routing fights its way back up to the top to make for a similar star to the back nine.
Of particular interest, Pulpit features a ton of concepts untested in architecture. As a result, a lot of interesting design principals are on display: the triple fairway, for example, is dramatic and unique, but has strategic value in each route; the three-leaf clover green on the par 3, 3rd is epic; finally, the par 4, 7th actually doglegs around a small cemetery. How many golf courses can showcase this much creativity in the concepts presented?
51. Crowbush Cove
1st in Prince Edward Island
Few architects get the opportunity to truly work seaside, and that in itself is an advantage over its contemporaries, but Crowbush gets the privilege to fly the flag for Thomas McBroom.
Weirdly enough, Crowbush is a bit like The Ocean Course at Kiawah in that it plays by the sea, but the interactions with the ocean are fleeting. In fact, only the 8th and 16th play directly by the ocean, but the ocean is not in play or even directly a factor.
Instead, the golfer feels the effect of the ocean with the coastal winds, putting a heavy-toll on the golfer’s ball-striking. Forced carries become difficult around the swampy hazards like the 11th, while even the shorter holes liker the par 3, 17th, playing to the top of a knob fully exposed to the wind, become much more difficult.
Such limitations of an Oceanside property with limited coastline require an out-of-the-box approach, but McBroom was up to the task and Crowbush Cove remains one of Canada’s great places for a round of golf.