In one of the worst kept secrets — if everyone is aware of it is it really a secret? — Laval-sur-le-lac, the exclusive club outside of Montreal, will announce on Tuesday that it is closing its modern 18 (with nine holes by Graham Cooke and nine by Howard Watson) and has hired Ian Andrew and Mike Weir to entirely rework the course. The project will start this fall.
It is surprising that an announcement has taken so long — the club’s members voted to approve the deal last year. Andrew has written about it extensively on his blog — see this post for discussions he had with Weir at the Masters — and it is clear the course will be different, with lots of short grass surrounds. The goal is to make the course playable for members, while being able to ramp it up for pros, potentially for the RBC Canadian Open in 2017, which would also be the last year of RBC’s deal for the Canadian Open, assuming it renews.
For me, there is some personal interest in Weir and Andrew finally announcing a gig. After all, I was hired a few years back to help Weir make his decision on what architect to go with when he decided to get into design. I spent most of a year working with Weir, IMG Sports and its managing director, Brad Pelletier. Of course Weir hired Andrew just as the economic downturn occured, making it very difficult to find a new project. The potential of reworking the Les Furber course at Predator Ridge is still there, I suppose, and I think the firm would have a good shot at working in Cuba. But in Canada, like the U.S., golf design is slow. That’s sort of why this is big news.
For Andrew, a friend, it is an opportunity to put many of his strong opinions into practice. Already established in Canada and the U.S. as a restoration expert, a successful redesign at Laval — which includes a reworked routing — would show what he is capable of. For Weir, whose career has spiraled downward in the last year, perhaps it gives him something to take his mind off his troubles, a new place to focus his energy.
According to reports, the course will be completed next year and open in 2013.