Stanley Thompson Book Launch; State of Private Golf Pt.2 and New Post Column

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.

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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.

10 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Rob,

    Thanks for the link on how to order the book. Just called and left a message to get my copy. Can’t wait to receive it. May be as close as we get to a Thompson course for a while given the April forecast.


  • RT, what’s wrong with oval-style bunkers? Most of the classic links courses are full of them. You prefer kidney shaped like 99% of the courses in North America?

    Is your issue with “oval-style bunkering” or “oval-style Graham Cooke bunkering”?

  • would agree hurzdan and mcbroom try too hard when it comes to bunkers. How many bunkers really need the fingers with fescue on them. The National has great oval shaped bunkers that are a penalty because of thier location not their shape.
    I would say most of my complaints about Cooke’s bunkering is based on location not shape.

  • Everyone should try hard when it comes to bunkers.

    HenryE — there’s a difference between classic bunkers with character, and the characterless ones Cooke creates. There’s no reason you can’t have style and strategy, now is there?

    In the end, I hate designers who have one unappealing style. It is the reason I have a hard time with RTJ.

  • Robt.

    The members at Brantford are not entirely in agreement with this new “associate members program” for 2007 and have been disappointed and vocal with the Board on such.

    Nor Mr. Matte for that matter and maybe that has more with the status of the “program” in 2008 rather than his assessment.

    The few fairway bunkers that Cooke finished on # 2 before the course closed last yr were quite large with some movement but the bunkers around the green were oval in shape so I think the jury is still out as to his overall work at Brantford so far

    Snowman 8

  • Robert:

    I’ve seen some of the work being done by Graham Cooke at Brantford and you couldn’t be more wrong about the bunkering. It’s disturbing that a person in your position would make such a bold statement without first seeing the work. Rather irresponsible.


  • Stephen: I’d bet dimes to dollars I’ve seen more of Cooke’s work than you have — and his bunkering is pretty damned similar course to course.

    I’ll get to Brantford soon and then we can discuss.


  • Robert:

    My note made no mention of any course other than Brantford so I don’t see how you being well-travelled is relevant. You commenting on the changes without having seen them is, in my opinion, irresponsible. As far as the wager… times to dollars? You got me. No bet.


  • I think I’ve seen enough Cooke “renovation” work at this point to have a pretty good sense of what he’s doing with the course — and of his bunker style. You’re right, I haven’t seen what he’s doing currently at Brantford, but having seen nine or ten other courses he’s renovated, I’m familiar with his style, which doesn’t vary much from course to course. Nothing irresponsible here — just a pretty good idea of what Cooke has done based on what he has done pretty much everywhere else.

    Bloody shame about cutting down the fairway contour on the 9th. I guess Brantford’s nearly 100 year-old course that has been highly regarded needed to be changed — at least that’s what the latest greens committee thinks. Maybe the next group of doctors, lawyers and piano salesman will think differently.

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