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18th hole at National Golf Club of Canada
18th hole at National Golf Club of Canada

Short Game: National comes out on top, again Add to ...

It doesn't seem to matter who does the ranking, the National Golf Club of Canada always seem to come out on the top.

In its first-ever rating of Ontario golf courses, Fairways Magazine has judged the all-male private club in Woodbridge as the best in the province.

It edged Hamilton in Ancaster and St. George’s in Toronto. Westmount in Kitchener and Devil’s Paintbrush in Caledon rounded out the top five.

The magazine’s panel of 70 experts considered 750 courses across Ontario for the ranking. The top 100 list was released in digital form this week and will be available in print next week.

It’s perhaps no surprise the National topped the list. The George and Tom Fazio design also led ScoreGolf magazine’s 2012 ranking of courses Canada-wide and consistently rates at the top of any best-of discussions.

The top eight courses are private, making No. 9 Muskoka Bay in Gravenhurst the best of the public bunch.

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FULL DISCLOSURE: I was among the 70 panelists. In its ranking issue, Fairways listed the top five favourite Ontario courses for each panel member to help make the process transparent. Here are mine, in order: Devil's Paintbrush in Caledon, Hamilton in Ancaster, Redtail in Port Stanley, the National and Beacon Hall in Aurora.

My Globe and Mail colleague Lorne Rubenstein chose these five as his faves, again in order: Devil's Paintbrush, the National, Goodwood in Goodwood, Redtail in Port Stanley and Toronto in Toronto.

Guess you know where you'll find us when we're having a "staff meeting:" at the 'Brush.

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HOMETOWN HAPPENINGS: BlackBerry maker Research In Motion is taking a greater role this year in the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic in Waterloo, Ont.

The Waterloo-based tech company, a secondary sponsor last year during the LPGA Tour event’s inaugural edition, will stage a community program tied to the tournament. Activities are to include a clinic for juniors featuring defending champion Brittany Lang, a pep rally-like party at Waterloo Town Square and a family zone at tournament venue Grey Silo.

The Classic begins July 11.

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SHARP AGAIN: Alena Sharp hasn't fared well on the LPGA Tour this season, missing the cut in all four of her starts, but she's showing no signs of struggling on the second-tier Symetra Tour.

She shot three-under-par 69 on Thursday in the opening round of the Symetra Classic in Charlotte and was tied for fifth place. Isabelle Boineau of France led after a 67.

This is Sharp's second Symetra start of the year. She was the runner-up at the VisitMesa.com Gateway Classic in February and is still within the top 10 of the tour's money winners this season.

It's also the first of five consecutive weeks on the road for Sharp.

Isabelle Beisiegel of St. Hilaire, Que., was the next lowest Canadian in Charlotte, a shot behind Sharp in a tied for 10th.

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GO BIG: The Vancouver Golf Tour’s marquee event is moving into June and increasing its purse to attract a deeper field.

The Saputo Vancouver Open, which last year was played in late August and early September, is scheduled to begin June 13.

It is to be played again on the Vancouver Park Board’s three championship courses: McCleery, Langara and Fraserview.

The event will fall between the PGA Tour Canada’s season opener in Victoria and its second event in Calgary.

The timing makes it an attractive option for PGA Tour Canada players who are passing through Vancouver between the two events.

The purse of $125,000, by far the largest on the Vancouver-based mini-tour, is close to what the PGA Tour Canada offers at each of its eight events: $150,000.

“Positioning our event the week of June 11-15 will guarantee we get the best professional field in the seven-year history of our event,” VGT commissioner Fraser Mulholland said.

B.C. pros expected to play include defending champion Eugene Wong, Nick Taylor, Cory Renfrew, Bryn Parry, Ryan Williams and James Allenby. Organizers are also trying to lock in such international players such as Chileans Hugo Leon, Horacio Leon and Martin Ureta.

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