Monday musings: Bear Mountain to close course; Firth goes to Mississaugua, while Main out at Beacon; and new Nike gear

Bear Mountain: Could one of its courses disappear?

Some thoughts for a Monday when I’ll be on a plane heading to Orlando for a Nike junket. Initially the trip was scheduled for New York, but moved to Orlando because of the storm. The trip is also giving me the chance to see Streamsong, the new 36-hole public resort in Florida with 18 holes by Tom Doak and 18 by Bill Coore that is getting hype akin to, well, Cabot Links among others. More on that later in the week.

In the meantime, interesting to see a report that Bear Mountain, which currently has two courses on SCOREGolf’s Top 100 in Canada, may be preparing to close one of them and build houses on it. The resort has been in receivership and apparently the move is afoot to rezone one of the courses to increase revenue. CTV reports:

And over the past year, the resort has slashed the price of a round of golf in an apparent bid to draw more business.

But, what the company plans to with its land, neither it nor the City of Langford will say – at least, not now.

The company is inviting people to an open house on November 14th to learn about its “proposal for re-envisioning its properties and golf courses.”

Sources in the real estate industry believe that includes developing one of its golf courses and replacing it with single family homes and condominiums.

People living on the mountain know changes could be on the way.

Don’t be surprised if this happens. The first course at Bear Mountain, which I did a short review on, was better than expected, and the second course has also been well received. That said, the first course would probably yield some pretty nice housing — so don’t be surprised if that’s the one that gets the bulldozer treatment.

Interestingly, we haven’t seen too many courses disappear in Canada, unlike the U.S. There’s the second course at Stewart Creek that could disappear, but that’s about it. However, there have been courses in the Toronto area turned into housing (see Kleinburg, among others).


Dennis Firth: New director of golf at Mississaugua G&CC

Changes keep occurring at Toronto-area clubs. First Scott Dickson, the former Shaughnessy pro who landed at Mississaugua G&CC, jumped ship after a single season to go to Royal Montreal, ruffling a lot of feathers among the membership of that blue blood club with his exit. Then Ian Leggatt announced he was taking over as director of golf at Summit, and hired Magna’s Chris Dyke as his head pro (this whole situation is fascinating). Mike Harris, head pro at Donalda, left to coach curling and finally it was announced that long-time Beacon Hall pro Phil Hardy was resigning.

Well, the deck has been shuffled. Dickson is now at Royal Montreal, and his replacement was announced today as Dennis Firth, the head pro at Coppinwood, and one of the game’s bright young minds. Firth’s departure from Coppinwood comes as the club’s former owner, Paul McLean, is reportedly preparing to reacquire the Tom Fazio-designed facility. That said, Firth’s move doesn’t sound like it has anything to do with the changes at Coppinwood — just a great opportunity for a young pro — though it’ll be interesting to see what impact it has on Kevin Thistle, the club’s GM who has a financial stake in Coppinwood. Dennis has been a friend of mine for some time, but having watched him operate both Angus Glen and Coppinwood, the move to Mississaugua comes as no surprise, and that club is better for having him.

On the other hand, Phil Hardy is still head pro despite resigning. After some apparently heated internal difficulties, Beacon Hall’s board resigned, GM (and Ontario PGA president) David Main was shown the door last week, and Hardy’s resignation? Well apparently there was a change of heart and he’s no longer leaving, and in fact now has membership marketing as part of his responsibilities as well as staying as head pro. Main, another one of the smart guys in the business (and likely the only PGA of Canada pro with an MBA), will surely land on his feet.


I’m off to Orlando to see the 2013 Nike line, including their much-hyped new red driver that apparently Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy have shot commercials for. Fox Sports is reporting the McIlroy deal is done, and he — along with Nick Watney and Kyle Stanley — are part of a new commercial for the driver. Not sure if I’ll get the chance to hit it while I’m down — the sessions last a day and go through woods, irons, ball and clothing — but it’ll be interesting to see whether Nike can gain some traction with its new line up of players and equipment. After all, the company has had the best player in the world playing its equipment for more than a decade without making a huge dent in the club market. Will McIlroy make a difference?


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Jeff Lancaster

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9 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Well Robert it is always a shame when a golf course has to close for whatever reason but honestly if it’s the Valley Course at Bear Mountain they are doing the golfing world a huge favour. Quite possible the most uninspiring and unrealistic course I have played in many years. Again a golf course that is built on a ridiculous landscape, more asphalt than an LAX runway and greens with up to seven tiers. You were right when you said it was doubtful that Jack Nicklaus himself had anything to do with the design as he would never want his name associated with the actual features of this “circus like” fiasco. Detonate it and build some swanky over priced homes there that “is” the Bear Mountain experience for sure!

  • Reginald, I’m interested to know why Paul would be let go? Other than the usual complaining by members that have no clue about grass, the course is in amazing shape.

  • Wayne, it is in great shape if you are into rampant thatch, a shallow root system and hardpan lies just off many greens. Over watered and green doesn’t equal great shape.

  • ah, fall in Ontario, the show then the moving of Pros!
    Congrats to Phil Hardy! still one of the best (although I don’t like his track) gents in our business!

    Robert, an MBA running a successful private golf club – that’s worse than a banker running Bear Mountain.

  • Bear Mountain, instead of bulldozing 18 holes for an even larger profile of unsold real estate creating an even larger glut, could split the difference and gain an identity at the same time. Bear Mountain is (at least I think?) a Resort Community, and needs more ‘community’. Young and old.

    Redesign 18 holes into some real estate, and build a kick-ass 9 Holer Par 3 in between. With the elevation changes, you would get some killer tee and green locations and a broader demographic using the Resort.

    Industry people keep talking about building these. Bear Mountain seems like a logical spot to me.

    Does HSBC still own Bear Mountain? Or parts thereof…Surely they of all investors can afford to spend a little now for the potential payoff down the road.

  • Reggie

    You r absolutley correct as Brantford Golf might be the most overwatered golf course in N.America. The green speeds are kept at 6-7, the ball leaves “pitch” marks in the fairways during the heat of summer and a tree removal program must be given a serious push forward. The later is not the supes fault as the trees were planted by a HOF member that lacked any foresight but it is indeed green.

  • I can’t comment on slow green speeds — they were plenty fast when I visited Brantford this summer — but tree removal is key. They could have probably used more adventurous bunkering, but that’s wasn’t coming from Graham Cooke.

    Overall still a really great course.

  • Just a quick note to congratulate Dennis Firth on his appointment. While I’m sure that Kevin was sorry to see him go, I’m also pretty confident that he would be supportive of the opportunity.

    Dennis is a first class guy who has worked hard to build his reputation as a solid teacher and professional. The members at Mississauga will not be disappointed.

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