Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Question of the Week 3 - Which Thompson would you most want to restore?

The old 4th green at St. George's

If you had a chance to restore any Thompson course which would it be? Would your choice be influenced by the amount of information available (ie. sketches, routing plans, photos, personal accounts, etc.) that would allow you to restore the course as accurately as possible? Or would you prefer to work on a course that has been apathetically" (props to CP) renovated by others so that you could restore it to its former self? Jeff Mingay

Let’s look at some of Stanley’s best courses to help make that decision.

While I would dearly love to fix the 3rd hole at St. George’s to finish the job, the rest of the course is essentially restored for the most part. I was very fortunate to have that opportunity and I still feel it was the most important contribution I have made to golf. I would love to return the 4th and 15th to the tough par fours they were but that is not in the cards, so St. George’s would not be my choice.

Highland Golf Links is definitely a strong contender because it is quite intact, and fairly easy to restore. The so called restoration by Cooke made a bit of a mess to the bunkers and introduced some of the worst paths in history, but most of that can be fixed without major surgery. What Highlands has going for it is the quality of old photos and other background information, so this would be a good candidate.

Jasper from around 1930

Jasper Park would be fun because this is likely the most intact and well preserved course and they also have a great collection of plans and photos available too. I would love to work there just for the shear joy of being on that property. As much as I’m in love with Jasper, I would choose another if I had to select one. Plus they need the least help of any of the clubs.

Banff Springs is an interesting one since so much has been altered. I have to believe that all the photos and plans are still in the Fairmont archives. While restoration would be fun, it will only happen if Thompson is made “a person of historic significance”, so that the Parks Services would see to a “restoration” actually taking place. The greens are a dicey issue with the Mercury and the number of rebuilds but the rest could be returned. I will pass until they stop tinkering with the original works.

Capilano has the least information and only limited interest in “true” restoration. The layout is stunning, but this is an easy one to pass on.

Westmount is the course with 15 Thompson holes and 3 outstanding Robinson holes which exceed the originals (kudos to Robbie). Here is an interesting one to consider, the historic information is a bit sketchy, but the potential is far higher than many of the clubs listed before. The original bunkering is gone completely, the challenge of recreateing that from scratch would be a challenging test that I would relish. Tree removal and a bunker restoration/renovation would put this “easily” back in the top 10, definitely a top contender.

The rest don’t really jump at you. Cataraqui has had most of the work done, so there is not a lot to do. St. Thomas, a spectacular hidden gem is half Thompson and half Robinson; while one of the finer layouts in Canada, restoration is a questionable route.
And finally former great layouts like Montebello are essentially gone.

13th at Highlands without the trees

My choice would be Highland Golf Links. It would be based on the thorough collection of photographs, memories, and other information that would make an accurate restoration easily achievable. It would also be a pleasure to undue one of the worst [so called] “restorations” done where the architect did not do his research or care about accuracy. Highland Links could be everything a great restoration is about; preservation, restoration, respect, education and leaving a legacy. It would be an ideal project for me.


Dick Kirkpatarick said...

Highland Links is a good choice, especially if Stanley is made a person of historical significance, giving Parks Canada the incentive to do it. Otherwise, and possibly even if he is given that stature, it will never happen.

Anonymous said...


Slightly off this topic but I wanted to ask a question about an earlier "essay" and didn't know where to post it.
In your discussion of "template architecture," you state, "all great architecture has roots in classic holes."
I'm aware of the terms and some of the examples (i.e., Redan, Alps, Cape, Eden) of these templates. Granted, many of these concepts are centuries old, but is there a prototype you see prevalent in modern architecture that may have unique qualities outside of these standbys?
I can only think of the island green as a more modern type of hole that has spurned copycats. Am I wrong?
Keep writing and educating. I love when you post pictures; it gives your discussion context and they fill my screen saver. Thanks
Peter W. Sayegh

Ian Andrew said...

The Island green dates back to Ponte Vedra Golf Club by Herbert Strong. I think the club dates back to the 20's, but I'm not sure of the exact date. That would stil be modern compared to many.

Let me think on that idea.