I continue to be humbled by all the amazing golf courses we’ve been able to play and write about over the years, and looking back on 2017, it was no exception. Our 2017 journeys took us to the California desert, Vancouver Island, the Monterey Peninsula, Ontario, and the Canadian Rockies. Needless to say, there was no shortage of tremendous courses to discover for the first time.
To come up with my list of the Top 10 new courses I played in 2017, I took into consideration a combination of course architecture, playability, value, routing (i.e. is it walkable?), course conditions, customer service and overall experience. Ultimately, these rankings are intended to answer the question — how much fun did I have at each course?
And after much contemplation, here they are:
10. Crown Isle Resort, Courtenay, British Columbia, Canada (review coming soon)
Crown Isle has a lot of good things going on. A beautiful resort experience where our room was a 15 second walk from the first tee. The golf course played host to the Canadian Tour Q-school in 2017, but is a layout that can be enjoyed by all skill levels.
9. Bear Mountain Resort – Valley Course, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Commonly referred to as the more approachable of the two courses at Bear Mountain, the Jack Nicklaus layout is by no means tame. Dramatic elevation changes, undulating greens, and intimidating bunkering makes this rugged layout a fun but stern challenge.
8. Bear Mountain Resort – Mountain Course, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Typically considered the flagship course at Bear Mountain, the Mountain Course is named aptly, and provides a unique mountain golf experience with many dramatic holes, beautiful scenery, and even an island green. If you’re not on your game, you may want to pack a few extra balls.
7. The Vintage Club — Mountain Course, Indian Wells, California, USA
When it comes to playing golf in the California desert, I’m not sure if it gets much better than The Vintage Club. As one of the hardest tee times to get in the Palm Desert area, I felt very fortunate to be a guest at this private club, and the Mountain Course did not disappoint.
6. Pasatiempo Golf Club, Santa Cruz, California, USA (review coming soon)
This Alister Mackenzie gem is a haven of unique architectural features and dramatic bunkering, making it very popular among the architecture junkies. Better bring your ‘A’ game to Pasa, as it can be downright punishing for anyone not hitting it solid. Also bring your wallet, as I think it’s a bit overpriced.
5. Storey Creek Golf Club, Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada
This charming, down-to-earth course designed by Les Furber is not only a fun, challenging, and walkable course with bald eagles soaring overhead, it provides some of the best value on this list. A no-brainer to tee it up here when visiting Vancouver Island.
4. Magna Golf Club, Aurora, Ontario, Canada
This private club with only 270 members is another tee time that I felt very fortunate to have. The course features wide undulating fairways, large greens, and dramatic bunkering that shouldn’t be underestimated. The course doesn’t get much love in the mainstream rankings, probably because it doesn’t cater to course rankers.
3. Kananaskis Country Golf Course – Lorette Course 2.0, Kananaskis, Alberta, Canada
The incredible comeback of Kananaskis Country Golf Course after the devastating 2013 flood has golfers in Alberta and beyond buzzing. We had the opportunity to play a preview round here in September prior to the official opening happening in Spring of 2018. Golfers will not be disappointed. A special place run by passionate individuals committed to providing the best value in Alberta.
2. Poppy Hills Golf Course, Pebble Beach, California, USA
At the end of the day, Poppy Hills is just damn fun. Plenty of width, strategy, and beauty, while not lacking challenge. This is a golf course that can be enjoyed in many different ways, by many different skill levels. For the price relative to the big-name neighbors, Poppy is one of the best plays on the Monterey Peninsula.
1. St. George’s Golf and Country Club, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
It was an easy decision for me to rank St. George’s in the #1 slot. This Stanley Thompson gem is one of Canada’s best courses and definitely one of the most interesting and fun layouts I’ve ever played.
Here’s to a great 2017 season and looking ahead to an even better 2018!