Hamilton Golf and Country Club
Some argue that Hamilton Golf is the country's best golf course. That was the take of Score (http://www.scoregolf.com/rankings/index.cfm?), the golf magazine which recently put the course ahead of the likes of St. George's and the National.
To be clear, I'm on the Score panel and I've played pretty much every golf course in Canada that has even a passing opportunity at ranking No. 1.
Hamilton is good -- very good. I'd clearly rank it among the top courses in Canada -- and feel it likely deserves a spot on Golf's Top 100 in the world.
But, as my friend Ben Cowan-Dewar (who runs a neat site called www.golftravelinformation.com) says, there are still problems with Hamilton. The course, a fine Harry Colt design, is missing the detail work which would put it comfortably in the Top 100 in the world. The bunker work, done by the American firm of Ault, Clark and Associates, is haphazzard. It simply doesn't look like the work Colt did at some of his other high profile courses, like Muirfield in Scotland. It isn't even as interesting as Toronto, another Colt design.
However, I doubt Hamilton will do anything about it -- the course and its members are still basking in the glow of the gushing reviews they received for the 2003 Canadian Open and probably are happy enough with the Score ranking. Why, if you're already regarded as the best course in Canada, would a course make more alterations?
Well, take a look at St. George's -- where Ian Andrew reworked all of the bunkers in the style Stanley Thompson envisioned. It makes the course more dramatic -- and quite clearly the best in Canada. If Hamilton considered a similar bunker job, the course would certainly rival St. George's.
It all comes down to detail work, something most courses overlook and occasionally just ignore.