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Canadian Architecture Review: Doug Carrick

Part of an ongoing series looking at Canada’s current crop of golf designers.

On the Carrick: Talking with Doug Carrick at The Carrick in Loch Lomond, Scotland, in 2006

On the Carrick: Talking with Doug Carrick at The Carrick in Loch Lomond, Scotland, in 2006

Architect: Doug Carrick

Years in industry: 22

Key courses: Eagles Nest GC (Maple, Ont); Greywolf GC (Panorama, B.C.); Bigwin Island GC (Muskoka, Ont.)

Recent projects: Cobble Beach Golf Links (Owen Sound); Muskoka Bay GC (Gravenhurst,Ont.); The Carrick (Loch Lomond, Scotland); New nine at Predator Ridge; Turnberry GC in Brampton, Ont.

Quote: “When you stand on the tee, you know exactly what you need to do. Then it is just a question of whether your abilities match the demands of the hole.”

Strengths:

  • Carrick’s strategies, including uses of chipping areas and carry bunkers, as well as width in his fairways, make his courses fun to play
  • Among the most productive and reputable architects in Canada for almost 20 years
  • Clients like Carrick and find him easy to work with

Weaknesses:

  • Carrick seems to invest a great deal in the length of his courses, increasing budget sizes and inevitably green fees as well
  • Many low handicap players feel his work, with their wide fairways, is too easy (see Bigwin Island, Magna)
  • Not the consumate salesman or self promoter in an industry that demands it. While Carrick has his fans, one has to wonder what he might have accomplished had he been blessed with Thomas McBroom’s ability to pitch himself.

Overall: Carrick’s work has had a tendency in the past to repeat key elements, as the architect very much enjoys building strategic courses that focus on carry angles, wider fairways and chipping areas around greens. His best courses, like that at Angus Glen South and Eagles Nest, show a flair for the dramatic and the ability to channel both aesthetic appeal and playability. However, his course at Angus Glen North, a collaboration that will host the Canadian Open next year, has been derided by critics as being a clash of styles and was overhauled by Davis Love III in preparation for the 2007 Canadian Open.

His recent creation, Cobble Beach Golf Links in Owen Sound, shows Carrick willing to experiment, and in turn create an exceptional course with wild rumpled fairways contours that are comparable to those seen on some of Canada’s classic tracks, like Highlands Links or Westmount Golf and Country Club. His newest course, the long delayed “The Carrick” next to Loch Lomond Golf Club in Scotland opened last year and could be the breakthrough that pushes him forward and onto the international scene. With the departure of associate Ian Andrew in 2006, much of the firm’s key restoration/renovation work has been largely placed in the hands of associates Cam Tyers and Steve Vanderploeg, working with clubs like St. George’s and Islington.

What’s possible: With his work in Scotland and Austria, Carrick should have had more exposure in Europe. But strangely that hasn’t happened. That said, after building several courses in which he took few risks, Carrick seems to be willing to break the mould recently with work at Muskoka Bay and Cobble Beach. With the slowdown in the market, it’ll be interesting to see how much new work Carrick undertakes going forward.

Grade: New work: A-; Renovation work: B

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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.

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