Do two golf courses cost $40M? Apparently not…


Yesterday I discussed an article that I’d read on Bond Head, the ambitious 36 hole facility located north of Toronto. I really tapped into the final segment that accompanied the story that listed the club as costing $40 million (including clubhouse).

The amount supposedly sent became discussed on both and on this site yesterday. Among those involved in the discussion were golf architect Doug Carrick. Bond Head’s lead architect, Jason Straka, also called to discuss some of the discussion. You get the point.

Carrick took issue with the insinuation by one of Bond Head’s management team that some designers had sent their “minions,” to pitch for the business instead of coming themselves.

To set the record straight, our firm was never invited to submit a proposal on this project. I met with the owner of the land Jim Cerswell, approx. 15 years ago to discuss his plans for a golf course on his property. I was disappointed that we were not asked to bid on the project years later when they finally went ahead. Also for the record, when we are invited to look at a new golf course project, I always go to meet the prospective client myself. I dont just send my minions (a very distasteful term I would never use)

On the other hand, Straka, an affable fellow with a sharp mind for design, wanted to make it clear he didn’t spend $40 million building two golf courses. Not even close, he noted. Those costs included acquiring all the land for the project, the development of infrastructure and the massive clubhouse (which seems too large to me, but I don’t host the tournaments there, so who knows?).

“It wasn’t even close,” he said when asked about whether he’d spent

[photopress:Jason_bondhead2.jpg,full,alignright]Bond Head designer Jason Straka

enough to sign Vernon Wells for three seasons. However, he had no remarks about whether the Blue Jays should pay Wells $40 million.

Secondly, some posters on brought up the issue of the fact 500,000 cubic yards of soil were pushed around during the construction of both courses. To the average person this sounds like a big number, but realistically most golfers have no idea what this figure means.

Though Straka is no minimalist when it comes to design (and doesn’t claim to be — the Hurdzan/Fry firm does like to move dirt: see #1 at Devil’s Pulpit), he said last night that a lot of the earth moved was due to the ponds discussed in the article on Bond Head.

All of this is secondary to whether Bond Head is doing well or not. According to many in the industry, the club successfully poached a lot of corporate tournaments away from Clublink, not surprising considering they had former Clublink corporate sales type Jamie King running their tournaments operation. The course was busy the three times I was on site over the summer and talk is the club did more than 30,000 rounds on the two courses, a big jump from last year when they only less than 10,000 rounds. Take into consideration the North Course was only open for part of the summer as well. With that in mind, it would look like Bond Head had a good growth year.

It will, however, be interesting to see what the club does next. Nigel Hollidge, the club’s new GM, certainly achieved a lot in his first full year. But can Bond Head grow its round count to 45,000? And if so, who are they going to be taking rounds from — because the industry certainly isn’t growing that quickly.

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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.

1 CommentLeave a comment

  • I guess Bandon Dunes, Pacific Dunes and Bandon Trails was a steal at less than $20 million for the 3 courses, all top rated in the US of A. I’ve never been to Bond Lake (it was an OPP station when I left Canada) but maybe the clubhouse has gold in its foundation.
    45,000 rounds is not too many for 36 holes in Toronto area, at least it didn’t used to be until every farm became an upscale golf course.
    What happened to that greenbelt around Metro?

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