Friday, March 03, 2006

Kawartha Golf and Country Club - Stanley Thompson 1931

The 18 hole with the 12th in th background, the photo is from the early 1930's.

Yesterday was a big day for me, Lorne’s article, I got a cheque, and Kawartha Golf & Country Club gave me the go ahead to complete the remainder of the large projects. After this stage - only drainage, tees and the practice facilities remain.

Kawartha was designed by Stanley Thompson in 1931 for the General Electric Corporation “and their friends”. This commission was right after some of his most important courses were completed - Royal York (now St. George’s) being the most recent - and his stature was riding high. The interesting thing about 1931 was that I was the first quiet year for Thompson and this was his only major commission. The remaining work we know about were two renovations and a miniature golf course. We know he had lots of time available to be on site, and his best men were all likely at Kawartha. Kawartha was opened in 1932.

The 18th today after restoration. The back right bunker is 10' deep!

I was commissioned to do a master Plan for Kawartha a couple of years ago and it primarily focused on restoration of the golf course. For me personally this came at a perfect time, right after working with St. George’s, and I was well prepared for the work. Kawartha has been one of the finest clients I have ever had, they have directed me when needed, but mostly trusted me throughout. I care deeply about getting Kawartha right, I owe it to the club.

The first year was a bunker renovation and restoration program. The only reason I say renovation as well, is that I had to make decisions on some of the holes where I had no photos. This was not ideal, but I used what I found on site and in the ground as a guide. The contractor Donnie Robb was as patient and helpful as he was talented in his recreation of Thompson’s grandeur. I have enclosed photos of this work.

The 14th, with the "octopus bunker" on the left, and one of my favourites on the right.

This years work is to fix the only two holes that were altered. The 5th green will be rebuilt and returned back to the style of the original green. The contours and the size will once again match the rest of the course. The third hole which had the fairway completely moved and changed to create a dogleg (and add difficulty and length?) will be returned back to the original corridor. The containment mounding will removed and the option to go directly at the green will be returned. The hole will once again be a risk and reward short par four.

My intent is to write more profiles of the places where I’m working and detail what I am doing in the field. I’ve been leaving all my field drawings with contractors for years, I will try photo them to post them as I go.


Chris said...


I was going to ask you sometime if the small horseshoe-shaped greenside bunker that was recently added to the left side of the 12th green was sympathetic restoration, but I can see from the old b&w photograph that it was originally there. Well done.

Anonymous said...

Amen re:Kawartha. Just don't make it too good, or the rediculously low fees will go up. Bunker to right of 11 green is my favorite anywhere.

Glad to see 3 is going back to original state...what a mistake the change was. 5 green used to be quite flat, just tilted slightly. Is this the "original"?


nocurling said...

ian, great to see you working on kawartha. how much of the restoration will involve removing trees to give it a similar look to what it had originally?

also, the last time i played it (admittedly many years ago) they had added a new tee on 14 way back in the woods to create a dogleg. is this being maintained?

lastly, is there any way to get a picture of the current 18 from the same spot as the old picture was taken?

peter woodcox
olympia, wa.

Ian Andrew said...


Most of the tree removal is done already, with just a few selected holes remaining. The widths are excellent, so there is little need to widen out the course further. The next stage would be removals to feature better trees - that will come later.

I tried to take the same photo, but the trees are in the way.

The back tee on 14 still has not been built - some fill is back there - but that project will comne down the road. The tree removal on the corner was done though.

Anonymous said...

on hole #5 there is a spot about 30 yards back and to the left of the tee deck,was this ever used as an additional tee deck?