[photopress:The_Rock_faldo.jpg,full,alignleft]On Thursday I’m taking advantage of the unusually great weather to drive up to Muskoka and get a peak at the newly renovated The Rock Golf Club.
The problems were massive. Since the project started with a routing by David Moote, followed by a design by Brit Stenson (and the very occasional presence of Nick Faldo), the course struggled with contrasting visions. Moote’s routing emphasized tight playing areas, and utilized a series of holding ponds in order to meet approvals. Too bad many of these design features — which factored heavily in Stenson’s reworking — became such a central part of the course.
Right from the start — or should I say the first hole — there were clearly some issues with The Rock. But the Marriott hotel chain was involved in the project, which essentially meant the problems had to be fixed. After a 2006 season with fewer and fewer players, but before the new hotel on the property had commenced, the decision was made to close the course and bring Stenson and Faldo back to rework it.
I must admit to being surprised that Faldo and Stenson were invited back after all the issues with the course in the first place. Faldo was overheard during his opening round speaking about adjustments to the course. That’s not a good sign given that it had just opened.
Anyway, fairways have been widened apparently, and made less severe, including alterations to some of the worst offenders, like #3, and #16, or at least that’s my understanding.
But what interests me even more than the design changes is whether or not a course can be relaunched effectively in this market. Can the owners of The Rock, and Marriott, convince public golfers that their product rivals that of Deerhurst, Muskoka Bay, Bigwin Island, Rocky Crest and the like? If they can’t, then it won’t matter how much they’ve spent on redesigning the course.
Truthfully, I’m skeptical. I think that once you screw up a course’s routing and initial design, you’ll be hard pressed to ever make it a strong course. However, I’m willing to be proven wrong.
After tomorrow, I’ll have a better sense of which way this one will end up.