Intro to Canadian Golf Architecture Review:
Blame it on Stanley Thompson.
It has been more than a half century since the death of Canadas greatest golf designer, and contemporary golf architects are still being held up and compared to the countrys foremost purveyor of smart greens, wild bunkers and clever routings. Since many of his courses, places like Highlands Links in Cape Breton and Capilano in Vancouver, remain held in places of high esteem, Thompson remains the mark against which all other designs are compared.
Thats not to say some terrific, world-class golf courses havent been built over the past two decades. After a fallow period following Thompsons death in 1953 dominated by inexpensive and often suspect designs, Canadian golf architects have emerged to demonstrate they are capable of being among the best in the world. Led by the duo of Thomas McBroom and Doug Carrick, who both made their splash on the Canadian golf scene in the early 1990s, Canada has witnessed an almost unprecedented period of new golf courses. In some cases tens of millions have been spent creating new courses, like Eagles Nest GC, Tobiano GC and Glen Arbor, that target high-end golfers looking for a country club for a day. In other instances, green palaces like Magna Golf Club or Domaine La Forest have sprung up, creating golfing retreats for the ultra-wealthy elite. Along the way there has also been room for development of the affordably-priced local track, courses like Timber Ridge in Brighton, Ont.
But just how good are Canadas multitude of golf designers? More than 30 operate across the country, so how does a developer decide who to turn to? Like the country itself, the golf design talent is scattered across all of Canada, and theres seemingly a golf architect for every type of project.
The goal of this series is to look at the work of each Canadian golf designer, and give some sense of their scope of work and success to date. I’m also looking at the possibility of what they might accomplish given what I’ve seen of their portfolio. I’ll do one architect per day, in alphabetical order:
Subject: Ian Andrew
Best Courses: St. Georges G and CC (restoration); Muskoka Bay GC (with lead designer Doug Carrick)
Current Projects: New nine holes at Saskatoon G & CC; Restoration work at Donald Rosss Plymouth Country Club in Massachusetts; Restoration of Stanley Thompsons Highland Links, a top 100 course in the world
Quote: It is not the architects job to make the game difficult – it is the architects job to make the game interesting.
- Best in Canada at golf restoration. His work has been heralded by American architects like Tom Doak and Gil Hanse.
- Historical knowledge, research skills and knowledge of classic golf courses from around the world are unrivaled in Canada.
- Starting to gain significant work in the U.S. market. Currently works with a handful of clubs in several US states
- Lack of solo design work makes him a question mark when it comes to new courses.
- Original work in Saskatoon is, well, in Saskatoon, limiting its exposure
Overview: Canadas best restoration architect, Andrew left Carrick Design in 2006 after more than a decade to start his own firm. The move has been successful, with about 30 clients in the Andrew Golf portfolio, including courses in the Northern U.S. Andrew has been responsible for some outstanding bunker restorations in recent years, including exceptional jobs at St. Georges, Scarboro, Weston, and Cherry Hill. His research is beyond reproach and his focus and perspective have made him in demand across the country.
Though many wont immediately recognize Andrews new course work, he was a central figure in the creation of Ballantrae Golf Club, the new nine holes at Nobleton Lakes and at Muskoka Bay GC near Gravenhurst, Ont.
Whats possible: Certainly the architect in Canada who is best versed in the history of the game and golf architecture, an original Andrew solo design could well be something unique and unexpected “ or will he try bring too many ideas at once. Only time will tell.
Overall: A for renovation work. B for collaborations on new work.
Tomorrow: Ted Baker (Lionhead)