Pick of the month: Doug Carrick, Canadian golf course architect. Never heard of him? Well, shame on you. He’s the hottest designer in Canada and along with Tom McBroom shares honors as the nation’s best. With 19 courses on home soil to his credit and two more under construction, he’s fast at work elevating Canada’s golf scene, starting in his native Toronto, where six of his finest creations dot the landscape. With the possible exception of Chicago, Toronto has more top-notch public courses than any other major North American city — and Carrick’s are among the best.
In the hills of Caledon 20 miles northwest of downtown Toronto lies Osprey Valley , where 11 years ago Carrick built Heathlands , a compact, links-style course walled in by fescue-covered mounds. He returned in 2001 to craft the fancifully named Hoot and Toot Courses. Hoot, dropped into a rolling expanse of sandy, pine-dotted wastelands, is a cross between Pine Valley and London’s heathland courses. Carrick gouged huge pits from the land and filled them with 10,000 tons of local sand, creating a raw, untamed links. Toot, by contrast, is a refined parkland spread, a handsome design that fits its glacier-carved landscape hand-in-glove. With its heaving fairways, Toot could pass for the Scottish Highlands. Green fees: Heathlands, $46-$56; Hoot, $70-$80; Toot, $63-$73. 519-927-9034; www.ospreyvalleyresorts.com.
Equally spectacular is Angus Glen . The facility’s original layout, designed by Carrick in 1994 and now called the South Course , is a firm test on roller-coaster terrain marked by sharp elevation changes, numerous wetlands, and a very strong collection of par 4s. At 7,432 yards from the tips, its 76.0/143 Course and Slope Ratings give a fair indication of its resistance to scoring. The course hosted the 2002 Canadian Open.
The facility’s North Course , a collaboration between Carrick and Jay Morrish that opened two years ago, is a grand links-style track marked by broad fairways and sod-walled bunkers, its enormous greens embraced by flowing swales and grassy hollows. .A strategic tour de force — the stacked-sod bunkers used to signpost the .course are distinctive — the North Course will itself welcome the Canadian Open in 2007. Can you think .of another 36-hole public complex capable of hosting a national championship on either of its courses? Green fee: $80-$110. 905-887-5157; www.angusglen.com.
Carrick’s newest offering, Copper Creek , is a multitheme course unveiled last August. The 7,097-yard layout has 11 good holes on elevated tableland, three very good holes stretched across a meadow, and four exceptional holes routed 80 feet below the clubhouse in a valley skirted by a river. Carrick moved plenty of dirt to provide interest on the upper holes, but left well enough alone in the valley, where interconnected ponds and towering white pines delight the eye. Green fee: $100-$140. 905-893-3370; www.coppercreek.ca.