Terry Smith, superintendent at Tobiano Golf Course, was as pleased with SCOREGolf magazine's annual golf course rankings as he was with the kind words he received last month from U.S. Golf Association advisor Larry Gilhuly.
Tobiano, located west of Kamloops, was ranked 10th in SCOREGolf's annual Top 100, which was announced last week. The five-year-old course, which was designed by Thomas McBroom, had been ranked 16th in the previous rankings.
"Top 10 has always been our goal," Smith said. "That's a pretty big deal for us."
National Golf Club of Canada in Woodbridge, Ont., was ranked No. 1, ahead of two more Ontario courses - St. George's in Etobicoke and Hamilton Golf and Country Club. Four Western Canadian courses were in the top 10, including Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, Capilano in West Vancouver and Fairmont Banff Springs.
The Club at Sagebrush, located above Nicola Lake near Merritt, was ranked 11th. Predator Ridge, near Vernon, had its two courses ranked - the Ridge course was 25th, while the Predator track was 70th. Salmon Arm was ranked No. 82.
Of the top 10, five are private courses - including the top three - while 13 of the top 20 are exclusive private tracks. Tobiano is a public course.
For any superintendent and grounds crew, there is a definite advantage to working at a private club.
"The type of player who plays here tends to do a little more damage than a player at a private course," Smith said. "And also, some of these courses are super-exclusive. Sagebrush limits itself to about 5,000 rounds a year; we're shooting for 35,000."
Despite this, the golf course at Tobiano continues to receive accolades from around North America.
Last month, Tobiano brought in Gilhuly, who is a part of the USGA's Turf Advisory Service, to evaulate the course's agronomy programs. Gilhuly, like most people who set foot on the course, was impressed.
"Ownership wanted to see if what we're doing was economical," Smith said. "(Gilhuly) was blown away with what we've done with how little we have."
Gilhuly went on to tell Smith that Tobiano's greens were the best he had seen in Canada and the second-best he had seen in North America.
The biggest thing Gilhuly liked about the greens, according to Smith, is that they remain pure bentgrass, free of the poa annua that will often take over golf course greens.
"It's been five years, and there's still no poa anywhere," Smith said proudly.
Part of the reason for that, Smith said, is that he resists the urge to aerate the greens in the spring, which is commonly done by most superintendents.
"It's my belief that aerating the spring promotes poa," he said. "Golf courses that do it in the spring do it because they feel they have to."
Smith and his crew aerate in the fall, once the golf season is dying down, which is a notion to which Gilhuly subscribes.
"Bentgrass is the ultimate, and to keep them that way is our goal," Smith said.