Thursday, February 22, 2007

10 Places I want to Play and Why - Part 1 of 2

First off there is no mention of Augusta National - yes I would play there in a heart beat - but I’m well beyond ever hoping that will happen. So my essential 10 courses are made up of courses I know I can get on and am very eager to see.

1. Sand Hillls – Coore and Crenshaw

This is our generation’s landmark course. If it didn’t announce the latest movement in architecture, then it certainly put the exclamation point on the fact that this was the next great movement in golf architecture. The course is also a great example to architects about the importance of patience in trying to find the best routing. With so many options, and 100’s of excellent holes to choose from, the tough part was finding the best routing – and they did. It’s rare that a course has no dissenters and that is why this course is high on my list.

2. Royal Melbourne – Alister Mackenzie

The course was conceived on a massive scale, it makes perfect use of the topography, the green contouring is some of the finest the game has ever seen, it has one of the smartest short fours in the game, it may be the best bunkered course in the world, and it blends perfectly into the surrounding land. This course is very close to perfect. The main reason I personally want to visit the course is the bunkering technique, they are so beautiful, so well blended and so well detailed – they may be the best example of bunker construction in golf.

3. Prairie Dunes – Perry & Press Maxwell

There may be no course that blends better into its surroundings than this one. The course creates a very blurry line between the edge of the golf course and the beginning of the native grasslands that the course was developed in. No course embraces and respects the natural environment like this one – it is a great example in a more enlightened time of what’s right. To top if off the original nine has some of the best green contouring in golf and may have been the best nine holes course the world has ever seen.

4. Swinley Forrest – Harry Colt

The golf course is short and a par 68, but it may is probably the best course in the London Heathland area. The golf course is all about ambiance and excellence. This has one of the greatest collections of natural par threes in golf, something I have begun to think is one of the great secrets to routing. Colt may have concentrated on the threes, but the golf course offers an almost perfect progression from the opener to the closer without one falter along the way. Colt called it his least bad course – which to my ears may be perfect – despite the unconventional par.

5. Lawsonia Links - Langford and Moreau

There are two things that attract me to this golf course. The first is the similarities to the work of Raynor and MacDonald. The count features big bold greens and massive pushed up features that are so obviously created, yet the course manages to blend out into the surroundings. The second attraction is the massive scale of all the golf holes and the feature work. Working in a large scale is dangerous because it really exaggerates mistakes, but when it is done like Lawsonia it becomes an awesome experience that overwhelms the player. I have always admired San Francisco Golf Club, and this would be another lesson into the most elusive design idea.

The next 5 will come next week – tomorrow’s blog will be on something else

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Best in Canadian Golf – My Choices

I was surfing last Friday night when I ended up at the Score Reader’s Choice Awards and it got me thinking I should offer my best of Canadian Golf List. I hope this will spur some people on to go and explore some of these great courses and holes that they might not have otherwise seen. Score had a tendency to regionalize their choices and I will respect their system and do the same.

Best Course
Atlantic- Highland Golf Links
Quebec- Beaconsfield Golf & Country Club (this was a very tough choice between 4 different courses)
Ontario- St. George’s Golf & Country Club
Central- Jasper Park Lodge Golf Course
British Columbia- Capilano Golf & Country Club

Best ResortJasper Park Lodge Golf Course

Best Golf Destination – Saskatchewan (value and quality is unmatched in Canada)

Best Scenery – Furry Creek Golf Course
Best Service – Angus Glen (10 years without a drop in quality)

Best Condition – Dakota Dunes (on his budget, it was exceptional)

Best Value
Atlantic- Northumberland Links
Ontario- Allandale (Barrie)
Central- Dakota Dunes
(I couldn’t make a fair choice in other two regions)

Best Clubhouse
– Capilano Golf & Country Club

Best Par 3
Atlantic- 4th at Northumberland Links
Quebec- 15th at Beaconsfield Golf & Country Club
Ontario- 15th at Catarqui Golf & Country Club
Central- 4th at Banff Springs Golf Course
British Columbia- 6th at Greywolf Golf Course
*One special one to seek out – 8th at Uplands

Best Par 4
Atlantic- 2nd at Highland Links
Quebec- 7th at Mount Bruno Golf Club
Ontario- 2nd at St. George’s Golf & Country Club
Central- 4th at Banff Springs Golf Course
British Columbia- 7th at Capilano Golf & Country Club
*Best short par four – 7th at Scarboro Golf & Country Club

Best Par 5
Atlantic- 15th at Highland Links
Quebec- 10th at Laval-sur-le-lac Golf & Country Club
Ontario- 14th at Summit Golf & Country Club
Central- 8th at Waskesiu Golf Course
British Columbia- 18th at Capilano Golf & Country Club

Best Practice facility – Coppinwood Golf Club

Best Halfway House – Highland Links

*Special Places to Seek Out
Atlantic- Green Gables
Quebec- Braeside Golf Club (turn of the century golf)
Ontario- Allandale (9 holes of Thompson as it was – just the sand is missing on few bunkers)
Central- Waskesiu (the best fairway contours next to highlands)
British Columbia- Victoria Golf Course (a series of holes on the Pacific Ocean)

*Best Local Rule – The Raven Rule at Mountain View Golf Course (Yukon) (essentially a stolen ball is replaced without penalty)

*personal additions