I got an email from Ken Donovan today that couldn’t have made me happier.
“Stanley Thompson has just been recognized as a person of National Historic Significance by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada. This designation will take place at Cape Breton Highlands Links in Ingonish. “
Ken is best known for writing the wonderful essay called "Thinking Down the Road: Stanley Thompson, Canada's Golf Architect, Artist and Visionary, 1893-1953". If you haven’t read it you should, it’s found in the The Nashwaak Review, St.Thomas University, Fredericton, New Brunswick, vol. 14/15 (Fall, 2004 -Winter, 2005), pp. 252-302. The interview with Geoff Cornish in the back is as entertaining as his wonderful essay. The pictures are enough to leave your mouth open wishing you could see it in that form.
And that is where this announcement comes in…….
This means that an important course under government control, like Highland Links, can be restored as a place of historic importance. The fact that Highland Links is a historic site would give the people in charge of the course the opportunity to go to Parks Canada and explain to them why the tree removal is necessary to “restore the historical views and playing widths”. This would provide an opportunity to finally open up many of the long corridors and view sheds lost through growth and Parks Canada policies.
This also opens up the slight possibility of restoring the bunkers back to the original locations and shapes. They are clearly shown in a wealth of photos that are easily obtained through the course or through the National archives. There are even a few found in advertisements and other sources. I dream of seeing Highland Links restored properly, and this definitely takes this from the unlikely back to the possible. It’s a very happy day for any golf historian. I have to commend Ken and Mark for their efforts .
The other courses that spring to mind are Banff Springs and Green Gables which are also on Park Canada land. It’s never to late for Banff, but it may be too late for Green Gables which is scheduled for a renovation by McBroom which from all reports will fundamentally change the course.
On a more personal level, I don’t think this changes things at most existing courses. It may encourage more preservation, but most courses are well aware of the legacy that they understand is worth protecting. I look forward to seeing the impact at Highlands, it’s so appropriate that the ceremony will be held there to honour Stanley Thompson.