If you were to create your perfect golfer from tee to green using only Canadian golfers, whose driving abilities would you take? Whose putting skills? Whose silky-smooth swing? Let’s break down what the ultimate golfer might look like when comprised of some of Canada’s very best.
When it comes to hitting off the tee, it’s not hard to find a few names. One that comes to mind is Taylor Pendrith. Pendrith is currently one of the heaviest hitters on the Korn Ferry Tour circuit. For the 2020-2021 season, his average driving distance is 319.9 yards. Currently ranked fourth in driving distance on the Korn Ferry Tour, he is just over 4 yards off the first-place number. Back in September of 2020, Pendrith made his major debut at the U.S. Open where he finished third in average driving distance among some of the best in the world.
A decade ago, Graham DeLaet was making similar impact on the PGA Tour. In his first season back in 2010, DeLaet ranked sixth in driving distance with a 305.7-yard average. Between 2012 and 2017, DeLaet routinely ranked inside the top 40 in the same statistic. In 2013, DeLaet had the fourth longest drive on the PGA Tour that season, hitting one drive 420 yards.
If we’re talking about driving excellence, Brooke Henderson’s name must be there. For the past five seasons, Henderson has ranked inside the top 25 on the LPGA Tour for driving distance. Last season, she matched her career high ranking of eighth, with an average driving distance of 266.784 yards. However, she doesn’t just bomb the ball – there’s something to be said about her accuracy as well – Henderson ranked 35th for driving accuracy last season. Currently, Henderson is ranked sixth for average driving distance at 278.654 yards.
One of the best Canadians to ever play the game, Stan Leonard won three times on the PGA Tour and eight PGA of Canada Championships. At one point in the 1940’s, Leonard’s tee shots were already averaging 275-280 yards, according to a 1948 Maclean’s article.
On the LPGA Tour, Dawn Coe-Jones had enviable irons. Between 1992 and 2000, she almost routinely finished inside of the top 25 for greens in regulation percentage, and for the two seasons where she was outside, she was still in the top 60 on the LPGA Tour.
Over on the PGA Tour, Stephen Ames’s approach shots were also enviable. Between 2004 and 2008, Ames consistently finished inside the top 50 on the PGA Tour when it came to strokes gained: approaching the green. In 2004, he also finished 24th for greens in regulation.While on the PGA Tour Champions, between 2015 and 2019, Ames consistently finished inside the top 35 in greens in regulation. At his most recent win at the Principal Charity Classic on the Champions Tour on June 6, Ames led the field in greens in regulation with 87.04 per cent – nearly four per cent clear of Fred Couples in second.
Before Ames, there was Dave Barr. Between 1987 and 1994, Barr was consistently in the top 15 for greens in regulation percentage on the PGA Tour. In 1988, he ranked second with a 73.63 per cent average, and in both 1989 and 1992 he finished third.
One of Canada’s best current golfers, Alena Sharp has been playing on the LPGA Tour since the mid-2000’s and was a member of Team Canada at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Over the course of her career, Sharp’s greens in regulation percentage have been impressive. Between 2007 and 2011, Sharp finished inside the top 50 on the LPGA in greens in regulation, and between 2007 and last season, she’s only ranked outside of the top 65 at the end of the season three times. She’s currently ranked 48th in the category this season.
It wouldn’t be a list comprising of some of Canada’s best golfers if Mike Weir weren’t on it. Currently on the PGA Tour Champions, Weir has the best sand save percentage out of anyone with 67.44 and is ranked at 15th in scrambling at 61.70 per cent. Between 2005 and 2014, while playing on the PGA Tour, Weir was ranked in the top five of sand save percentage four times. Twice, Weir had the best strokes gained: around the green number on the PGA Tour – in 2005 with .521 average strokes gained, and again five years later with .559 average strokes gained.
With two wins on the PGA Tour, Nick Taylor is one of Canada’s best current male golfers. In 2017, Taylor was ranked 58th in strokes gained: around the green, 33rd in scrambling, and 16th in scrambling from the rough. In 2018, Taylor was ranked inside the top 30 in scrambling and sand save percentage, and just last season, he ranked 21st in scrambling from the fringe.
With four wins on the LPGA Tour, Lorie Kane is one of the best Canadians to play the game. Between 1997 and 2005, Kane had some of the best greens in regulation statistics on the LPGA Tour – never failing to fall outside of the top 25, including sixth in 2001. Accompanying that, between 1997 and 2011, Kane also had some incredible sand saves statistics, finishing inside the top 25 six times and in 2011 she was ranked second with a 63.33 percentage.
Sandra Post is one of the most legendary golfers to come from Canada. Post was the first Canadian to play on the LPGA Tour, and won eight times. In an article from Maclean’s from 1968, Post herself says that putting is the best part of her game.
On the PGA Tour, Mackenzie Hughes’s putting is top-notch. In 2020, Hughes finished eighth in strokes gained: putting with a .681 average and had the ninth best overall putting average at 1.566. In 2019, Hughes sunk the longest putt of the season when his putt from 85’8” out found the hole. The year before that, he had the 16th longest successful putt, and in 2020 he held the 20th spot. He’s currently ranked third in avoiding three-putts with only 19 occurrences in 70 rounds of golf.
Adam Hadwin is another name that comes to mind when talking about putting. Back in 2016, Hadwin had one of the hottest putters on the PGA Tour. He ranked 11th in strokes gained: putting, fifth in putting average, 25th in one-putt percentage, and 12th in three-putt avoidance. In 2017, he ranked 26th in strokes gained: putting, and 11th in one-putt percentage.
Moe Norman is a legend in the golf universe. Known for his incredible golf swing, Norman had enviable accuracy that is still talked about today – nearly 70 years after playing in his first PGA Tour event.
George Knudson is another golf legend, and he achieved an incredible eight wins on the PGA Tour. And, like Norman, Knudson was known for having an incredible swing – playing a huge role in his accuracy.
Currently, Corey Conners is one of the best Canadian golfers on the PGA Tour and a big part of his success is due to is his accuracy. In 2020, Conners placed 20th in driving accuracy percentage and sixth in greens in regulation percentage. In 2019, he ranked 42nd in driving accuracy percentage and first for greens in regulation percentage. That season, when he did miss, it wasn’t by much – he ranked fourth in distance from the edge of the fairway with an average of 19’8”. Currently, he’s ranked 10th in greens in regulation, with 69.71 per cent.
With two wins on the LPGA Tour, Gail Graham is one of Canada’s best. Winning in 1995 and 1997 – Graham’s driving accuracy was consistently enviable. Between 1992 and 1997, Graham routinely ranked inside the top 60 on the LPGA Tour in driving accuracy. In 1996, she even ranked 21st.
So, who would you choose to create your ultimate Canadian golfer?