Last night more than 100 people showed up at St. George’s for the launch of photographer Mike Bell’s book on Stanley Thompson. The book lists the articles as being written by “Canada’s top golf writers.” That included the likes of Hamilton Spectator reporter Garry McKay, Ian Cruickshank, Brent Long, David McPherson and myself. The group largely wrote essays on individual Thompson courses. It was a fun exercise and by glancing through the book last night, it seems to have translated well.
The gathering included golf designers Bob Moote, Ian Andrew and Doug Carrick, as well as Parks Canada historian Ken Donovan, who has extensively researched Highlands Links. Beyond that, the group at the event included numerous top pros at Thompson courses, as well as GMs and other officials.
The book, which is a large coffee table-style tome, can be purchased for $80 by heading to Mike’s website, Photoscape.
State of Private Golf Pt.2
Spoke with a couple of GMs and pros at the event last night and it was interesting to get their take on the state of the game within the private ranks. Toronto Ladies GM James Pearson said the club is down a few dozen members following a $5,000 assessment for recent renovations conducted by golf architect David Moote. Interestingly, when I called Pearson a few years ago to ask to walk his course, I was told they had no interest in having the media see it. His remark came soon after SI writer Rick Reily came to the club and lampooned it in light of the Martha Burke/Augusta controversey. Now, with the club down members, it has nominated itself in the “Best New Remodel” category in Golf Digest’s course ratings awards. So I’ll finally get to see one of the few Thompson courses I’ve yet to tour.
I also spoke with Denis Matte, the GM at Brantford G&CC. Matte said the club is now full, primarily through an “associate program” that allows golfers to pay the dues for a single year without initiation. However, that doesn’t mean it will be full next year. “That’s just the way things are going,” he said, noting the club is in a strong financial position. Too bad about the course, which is destined to get some fine oval-style Graham Cooke bunkering in the near term after the Montreal designer was hired to rework the course. A bloody shame.
Finally, Phil Kavanagh, the pro at Islington, was at the event. The big net is up at Islington and hopefully it finishes the ongoing fight with the neighbouring Sammut family. Kavanagh said the netting is not nearly as intrusive as one might expect. Hard to imagine you can hide something 200 feet long by 80 feet high, but Kavanagh assured me it wasn’t a huge issue and had been well received.
My National Post column has returned for the year, and will appear in the paper on Thursday. The first column, on Zach Johnson, appeared today and can be found online here.
Here is a taste:
If you believed everything you read in the media in the past few days since Zach Johnson’s decisive victory at the Masters, one might start to think he was some sort of local yokel kid driving an RV who happened to get lucky when Tiger Woods had an off week.
However, the image being built around Johnson in the past few days doesn’t quite mesh with the truth.
Sure he’s from small-town Iowa, the kind of place more likely to be the subject of a John Mellencamp song than home to a golf star. And yes, he drove his RV from Augusta to Hilton Head this week with his wife and baby in tow to tee it up in the Verizon Heritage (he shot a one-under-par 70 yesterday, seven strokes off the first-round lead). But he’s not some John Daly prototype. He’s not a backwoods redneck who lucked out when Tiger and Phil Mickelson couldn’t find the fairway for four days.