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Random Notes for a Friday: Goodwood a go? Cypress Returns?

Goodwood: When will it open?

Goodwood: When will it open?

I was up at Angus Glen Golf Club near Markham yesterday to have lunch with my good friend,director of golf Dennis Firth. I bumped into him talking with the inimitable Kevin Thistle, top dog at all things golf that happened to be owned by Gordon Stollery. The conversation was mainly about the state of the economy and how Angus Glen was getting by (quite well, Thistle said, with tournament bookings up over last year) and finally to whether Goodwood will open this year.

You’re forgiven if you don’t recall what Goodwood is, or are concerned it sounds like the on-screen moniker of a late-1970s porn star. The fact is that the grow-in of Goodwood might be the longest in golf history. I toured the course for the first time in 2006 and a handful of pro golfers played it during the Canadian Open in 2007 that was held at Angus Glen. The discussion at the time involved an uber-high initiation model with entrance fees of more than $200,000. But 2007 became 2008 and nothing happened with the course. It just sat there, like some rare first-edition book that is placed behind glass but never read.

Not sure what happened net. Stollery has still not made a decision on what to do with the course, but Thistle said there is likely to be some tournaments at the course this year while they sort out the business model. Could there be members? Sure, he said. At what price? No one seems certain of that.

The course, developed by Martin Ebert and Tom Mackenzie (formerly of Donald Steel’s firm), looks like a less muscular Coppinwood and is built on similar terrain. I was surprised by the awful cart paths that show up far too prominently (Fazio hides his exceptionally well, which is not the case at Goodwood), but the remainder of the course looks very cool, with big rolling hills and lots of fescue.

I’m not convinced on first glance that the new course is Top 10 in Canada or anything, but it looks intriguing and it’ll be interesting to see a course in Ontario by designers whose names aren’t McBroom or Carrick for a change.

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Having played Cypress Point last month, I was intrigued at a little piece on information that doesn’t appear to have caught the attention of the golf intelligentsia yet. That’s right, there are rumours that Tiger will make an appearance at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am next year. But bigger still is the talk that the much maligned Poppy Hills could be replaced by the much more intriguing Cypress Point, which GolfWeek said in its latest issue was the best course in America.

According to an article in a Monterey paper, the Cypress talk might just be, well, talk:

Those reports have rekindled buzz on the Internet that Poppy Hills Golf Course, which joined the AT&T Pro-Am rotation in 1991, could be replaced by one of three other venues ” The Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula Country Club, Cypress Point Club or Bayonet.

“We’ve had no conversation with Cypress; the tour did look at Bayonet, and the Shore Course could be of interest,” said Ollie Nutt, president and chief executive officer of the Monterey Peninsula Foundation, which hosts the tournament. Nutt declined to go into details, saying only, “We’re always looking and listening. All three courses could be competitive courses.”

Cypress was long a part of the tournament when it was known for its affiliation with singer Bing Crosby. It dropped out of the rotation in 1991 after concerns were raised about its exclusionary membership policy. Apparently, according to newspaper reports, that has changed. The Shore Course at Monterey, which I also played last month and is the last work of the late Mike Strantz, is also a more interesting option than Poppy Hills.

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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.

10 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I thought the issue was that the PGA Tour dropped courses that didn’t allow female members. Didn’t they drop Butler National at the same time as host of the Western aka Motorola aka whatever? That is also a reason why there would be no point in The National (of Canada) trying to play host to the CanOpen.

    So they now allow female members? Or does the PGA Tour not care about membership policy anymore?

  • thanks for the goodwood update. its been awhile!

    i haven’t seen the cartpaths, but i’m sure that Martin Ebert would object to your equation of his work with the Faz @ Crappinwood.

    do they have legal rights to the name “Goodwood” yet? i remember hearing there was some issue at some point.

    also, who develops a golf course WITHOUT a business plan? apparently gord stollery, but really… i’d love to ask Martin how that impacted his design decisions…. you might be able to get away with some different choices on a private course than you would a public/resort/CCFAD course.

    phil.

  • Wayne: Good question. I actually don’t know if Cypress is men’s only. Anyone?

    The National should add female members, but I still think the club wouldn’t want to host a Canadian Open. The RCGA would love to see it there though…

    Phil: I think you raise a valid question about the lack of a business plan. I don’t get it either.

    Re: Fazio and cart paths. Regardless of what one thinks of Tom Fazio’s work, he’s the king of hiding cart paths. No one is better. Clearly Ebert doesn’t have the same experience. Then again, why did they need full cart paths all the way around this one anyway. Why did Coppinwood for that matter?

  • re: cart paths…

    you make a good point… fazio likely has more experience, having built more courses in cart-centric north america.

    why did they need them? thats a good question, and likely linked to the “business” model or lack thereof. If Stollery has any inclination to operate Goodwood like Angus (ie/ double shotgun tournaments 5 days a week), he’d likey need cart paths. I’d guess then, it was a client driven request.

    In fact, knowing Martin’s background, I doubt he would ever insist on cart paths if he had his choice. The Faz? i’d have my doubts.

    Which begs the question – how can Faz be “the king” of hiding cart paths, and still produce such sterilized, inoffensive, yet uninspiring golf? and yes, i’ll include Coppinwood.

  • I think Cypress has women, but I don’t think they have minorities.

    The course is too short and has no interest in the PGA Tour.

  • http://www.nytimes.com/1990/12/31/us/quayle-to-keep-golfing-at-men-only-club.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

    Vice President Dan Quayle said today that he cut short a golf outing at an all-white country club last week because playing there might have looked bad. But he said he would continue to play at a club that excludes women.

    Questioned by reporters while on his way to visit American troops in Saudi Arabia, Mr. Quayle said the Cypress Point Club in Pebble Beach, Calif., did not discriminate. But he said he canceled a round of golf at the club Friday after public criticism of him for playing there the previous day because “perceptions are important.”

    His press secretary, David Beckwith, had said the Vice President was unaware of the racial controversy surrounding Cypress Point when he played there on Thursday. But today’s comments by Mr. Quayle marked the first time that he had personally addressed the issue substantively. ‘I Didn’t Know’

    Cypress Point was recently forced to drop out as a host of the 1991 A.T.&T. Pebble Beach National Pro-Am because of a new rule by the Professional Golfers’ Association barring clubs that do not have members of minority groups from being a tournament host. Cypress Point has no policy barring black members, and it allows blacks to play as guests. But it has been unwilling to give blacks priority on a long waiting list for membership.

    Asked how he could not have known of the issue, which has been highly publicized in the golf world, Mr. Quayle said today: “Very few people knew about it. They knew about it in California. I didn’t know about it. I don’t have time to read a lot about golf these days.”

  • Not sure if Goodwood even has a clubhouse yet. The present 18 may not make the top 10 and the cart paths were constructed with speeding traffic along, but the potential of a real links style fescue’d fairway 9 hole in the future sounds like fun.

  • word is martin wanted fescue on all 27, but had to settle for the third nine. is the final 9 going to be a reality? from memory, it looked like perhaps the best of the 3!

  • RT…

    Did you get your invoice from Cypress yet? Intersted to know what the #1 course in the world charges as an “unaccompanied fee”

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