Canadian Architecture Review: Boris Danoff

The latest in a continuing series on Canada’s golf designers.

Dragon's Fire owner Bryan DeCunha and golf designer Boris Danoff discuss plans in 2007.

Dragon Fire's DeCunha (left) and designer Danoff (right)

Boris Danoff

Years in business: 20

Recent work: Dragon’s Fire GC, Carlisle, Ont., Queenston Quarry (Niagara-on-the-lake)

Key course: Thundering Waters, Niagara, Ont.

Quote: “I have worked with many great architects from around the world and Bo is one of the
very best I have ever seen “John Daly


  • Work at Dragon’s Fire demonstrated interest in making courses playable, walkable.
  • Very current with aesthetic trends in the industry.
  • Ambitious — left Ted Baker’s firm to take on Thundering Waters project


  • Courses demonstrate little regard for strategy and ignore shot values.
  • Difficulty of his courses designed for Ted Baker (Royal Ontario, for instance) results in slow paced rounds.
  • Work at Thundering Waters has not been well received and the course has already had a significant renovation, reworking several holes.

Overview: Formerly an associate with Ted Baker who worked on Loyalist near Kingston, Royal Ontario in Milton and Royal Niagara in Niagara-on-the-lake, Danoff left the firm to create Thundering Waters in Niagara Falls. The course, apparently co-designed with John Daly, has turned off many who expected a wider course, and instead received a target-style facility. His more recent work at Dragon’s Fire, with its wide fairways and heightened playablity, is a significant improvement. However, he still has a lot of naysayers out there who have little positive to say about his work to date.

What’s possible?: Until Dragon’s Fire, there was little suggestion Danoff could rise up the food chain of golf designers in Canada. That course has been well received, but it comes at a time when few new courses are likely to get built. A project called Queenston Quarry in Niagara-on-the-lake (what is it with Niagara courses and this guy?) is stalled in approvals.

Overall: C

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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.

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Sir:

    “Shot values” is a very common but nebulous term. Perhaps you could cite an example of a hole or two that Mr. Dannof has designed that lacks any sort of shot value or strategy.

  • Sure — the opener at Royal Ontario is a good example, as are several holes on the back nine. There are the mirror-image 9th and 18th holes at the same course, both of which utilize the same shots.

    I recall a conversation with touring pro Alan McLean after playing Thundering Waters. He was convinced the designer — who he didn’t know — had little understanding of hazard placement or hole design.

    I’m sure there are others that would say otherwise. Danoff’s most recent, Dragon’s Fire, had less of this.

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