Crunching the Numbers

How we determine Ontario’s Top 100 courses


With more than 750 courses, Ontario is, by far, Canada’s richest golf landscape. Its varying topography—from the dramatic plunges off the Niagara Escarpment to the rocky outcroppings of cottage country, and from the heaving hills of Toronto to the spectacular rivers of Northern Ontario—has provided multiple canvasses for some of the continent’s finest golf architects.

Placing those masterpieces in order from 1 to 100 is a complicated task—one we take very seriously. The process requires two essential ingredients: a transparent and carefully derived formula and a battle-tested panel of experts. As for the latter, we’ve assembled a list of 71 players of varying talent levels—some playing professionals, such as the PGA of Canada’s No. 2-ranked player, Danny King; some avid public players, such as John Wilczynski, who has played more than 700 courses across this province; and even some veteran members of the media, such as Hall of Famer Lorne Rubenstein. What they all have in common—young or old, man or woman, and whether they live in Ottawa, Windsor or Sudbury—is a wealth of playing experience across this great province of ours. In fact, of the reference list of 277 Ontario courses that we provided to our panel—they are not required to pick off the list, but no unlisted course was chosen—our average panel member has played more than 140 of those courses.

To determine the final scores, each panel member was required to fill in their top 60 picks. Each selection was assigned a value, more heavily weighted for a top-five pick: 75 points for a first-place vote, 71 for second, 68 for third, 65 for fourth, 62 for fifth, 59 for sixth, 57 for seventh, 55 for eighth, 53 for ninth, 51 for 10th, and then gradually descending by one point from there, ending with a single point for 60th. Total scores for every course was tallied, and then divided by the number of panel members who actually played the course. Each score you see on our Top 100 listing is the “average score per panellist that has played the course.” That prevents this from being a popularity contest.

All selections were inputted electronically, with those picks randomly confirmed at varying points with panel members, and reviewed by certified management accountant Robert Kloet of Hamilton.

Further ensuring integrity to the final tabulations was a rule that no panellist that is a member or a client of a course may vote for that course. That means that ClubLink members couldn’t vote for, say, Rocky Crest or Glen Abbey, or that a member of St. George’s could not select that venerable layout among their top 60. To protect the average value of those tracks, however, courses that were ineligible to be selected by a panel member were also not listed as having been played by that panel member.

To add transparency. to the process, we have published the top five selections of each panel member HERE.

We provided panel members with no guidelines in making their selections. They were the 71 finest experts in the field we could assemble, so we weren’t about to tell them what qualified as great and what didn’t. Beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder. As the project’s two managers, Brent Long and Ted McIntyre, like to say, “Some prefer van Gogh; others Rembrandt. Far be it for us to tell you which is better.”

That said, we fully expect that you’ll be happy to inform our panel what you think they got wrong. In fact, we welcome it!

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