Course Preview: Dragon’s Fire (Carlisle, Ont.)
Designer: Boris Danoff
The golf market in and around Toronto is largely saturated. Too many courses compete for the dollars of too few. New courses seemingly enter the fray every year.
Interestingly, the most recent are those that are catering to the value-priced model, namely Piper’s Heath, the Graham Cooke-designed track near Milton, and this year, Dragon’s Fire, a course created by the one-time co-owner of Royal Ontario, Brian DeCunha, and the designer of that facility, Boris Danoff.
In an attempt to create some buzz for the course, DeCunha launched a contest allowing people to name it. Admittedly Dragon’s Fire is far from the most inspired name I’ve heard, and it immediately reminds me of Falcon’s Fire, a Rees Jones-design in Florida. I wish courses would either embrace simplicity or at least be different. Dragon’s Fire logo is akin to that of Mystic GC near Ancaster — and truly the neither the name nor logo will set it apart. Which, I guess, doesn’t really matter except in the world of marketing. And while that interests me, it isn’t the point of this discussion.
What interests me is whether another course — even one in the sweet spot of $50 to $90 — can be sustained in a market full of similar courses. The question will be whether this one is better than its competitors in the market — places like Copetown Woods, the previously mentioned Piper’s Heath, Crosswinds, Watsons Glen, and even Black Diamond and Timber Ridge. It doesn’t even have to be signficantly better — just better. Better customer service. Better conditions.
And a better design. And that’s the point I’m unsure of. In my mind, designer Boris Danoff has shown he can step up to this. Of course he was working with constraints at his other courses — working under Ted Baker at Royal Ontario, and working on an odd project at Thundering Waters, a course that has not been particularly well received.
What can we tell from the photos of Dragon’s Fire? Hard to say for certain. There’s more roll to some of the holes than I expected, but others seem pretty standard fare — water bordering par-3s, grassed down bunkers with flat bottoms.
I’ll have a better sense when I head out to see this one in May.
Until then — check out these photos from last fall.