Anyone who has spent time with Canadian golfers knows that they love to sing the praises of the late architect Stanley Thompson, who built golf courses across Canada during the first half of the 20th century. Golfweek’s Best course raters also have taken a shine to Thompson. He is responsible for 10 of the top 30 courses on the Classic list (pre-1960) of Golfweek’s Best Canadian Courses, including four of the top five. Nine are solo designs, and on one he shares the credit.
Thompson’s masterpiece, Highlands Links, holds down the top Classic spot in Golfweek’s inaugural critique of Canadian architecture, while The National Golf Club of Canada, a collaboration of the late George Fazio and his nephew Tom, leads the Modern list.
Doug Carrick is the preferred architect of the Modern era, with eight designs among the top 30, followed by Tom McBroom, who placed five signature or co-designs on the Modern list.
One architect with whom readers might want to acquaint themselves is Rod Whitman, who has three courses on the Modern list. Whitman is at work on heavily hyped Cabot Links in the town of Inverness on Cape Breton Island. Mike Keiser, the visionary behind Bandon Dunes Resort, is spearheading the development of Cabot Links, which will open 10 holes in July and the full 18 holes in 2012.
Though Canada is almost equal in total land mass to the United States, it seems clear that our course raters feel most at home in Ontario. Canada’s most-populous province accounts for 32 of the 60 courses on the lists – 14 Classics and 18 Moderns.
The timing of this list comes as most Canadian courses are preparing to open over the next month. With that in mind, it is our hope at Golfweek that this list will serve not just as a source of debate among architecture buffs, but also as a travel guide for those eager to see the best that Canada has to offer.