Richard Zokol and Mike Devries in Toronto … Exceptional Eagles Nest … Responding to O'Hara!

It has been a busy week for golf in Toronto. There were the Score Awards on Monday, with the likes of Lori Kane and Jon Mills checking in at Angus Glen, and the CJGA was at Magna and Beacon Hall. In tow was Richard Zokol, noted tour pro and businessman, who works with the CJGA.

I sat down with Richard on a rainy day earlier this week and talked about his new golf course project in the interrior British Columbia called Sagebrush. You might consider it Redtail West — that’s how Richard sees it.

From the Sagebrush website, Zokol gives an indication of what

[Zokol’s] objective was to create a private sanctuary, a place to appreciate the golfing lifestyle beyond the bounds of the conventional, city-based club. Above all, he wanted to create an impeccably designed and maintained golf course that would be truly playable while in harmony with the environment around it. For this vision of a natural course, he had much to draw on from his years as a pro golfer. He knew of the special appeal in courses like Redtail in Ontario, Sand Hills in Nebraska and Friar’s Head in New York.

We’ll see how it goes — but Dick has a very clear vision for his golf course, something often lacking in most new golf course projects.

American golf architect Mike Devries was also in town on Monday, as one of five architects pitching to get the restoration job at Rosedale Golf Club. You might not know Mike, but he once worked for Tom Doak and created the widely acclaimed Kingsley Club in Northern Michigan. Now there’s a course that I could join — and if it weren’t ten hours away by car, I damned well might. It’ll be interesting to see who gets the work at Rosedale — where more than eight architects have had a kick at the can in the past. All five architects who interviewed for the job were American…

Speaking of new golf courses, Lorne Rubenstein has a piece on about Martin Eberts and Fiddler’s Ridge, the new course owned by Angus Glen owner Gordon Stollery that should open next year.

Played Eagles Nest today for the first time this year. The course continues to grow on me and I do believe it is among the finest modern courses in Canada. It was in fine shape all-around, the best since it opened in 2004. My only question is this: Why did Doug Carrick use two distinctive bunker styles around the course (blowouts and sod walls)? In that respect it is similar to Dakota Dunes, but Doug’s work is superior to the marginal bunkers created by Wayne Carleton (lots of ovals!). However, the blowouts at Eagles Nest still look too artificial, even in the third season….

Interesting article out of Hawaii, where a judge ruled a player could not be held liable for hitting another golfer with a ball by accident. The judge’s ruling was pretty clear:

It is “common knowledge that not every shot played by a golfer goes exactly where he intends it to go,” the ruling said, adding there wouldn’t be much “sport” in the “sport of golf,” if golf balls went exactly where the player wanted.

The intriguing bit is whether this will have any impact in Canada. It is a badly kept secret that golf courses are being sued regularly (as are the architects working at them) for accidents that occur on site. Seems to me golfers should be taking a degree of personal responsibility when they walk onto a course — and suing should be the end result of every unfortunate accident.

Got a note today from Ron Bala, the creator of the “O’Hara” ads for Coppinwood that I’ve been outspoken about — and not in a positive way.

Ron writes:

“As the creator of the OHara campaign for Coppinwood, I am pleased the small space ads that appeared more than a year ago captured your attention. But how on earth did you divine your opinion about them? Last time you mentioned OHara, you admitted that you hadnt seen the ads.”

Actually I saw the O’Hara ads far too often — they were regularly in the Globe and Mail (I’m a subscriber!). I just thought they communicated a strange message: Golfer plays nice golf course. Hits great shots. Apparently falls in love. As for the viewer of the ads, they just saw a lot of the backside of Mr. O’Hara.

Ron disagrees:

“It would be self-serving for me to tell you that they were created to express Coppinwoods pure golf experience and generated a ton of membership interest,” Bala posted on G4G. “Well, why not, this is a blog after all!”

Indeed it is. I still don’t like the ads, but apparently they weren’t aimed at me anyway. Glad to hear they hit their mark.

Expect to see a full review of Coppinwood with photos of all 18 holes in the next few days.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

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