I am back in the office after a great holiday driving from Calgary to Vancouver. Whilst there I was lucky enough to play a couple of Stanley Thompsons finest golf courses. Born in Toronto in 1893 he was one of 4 brothers and 5 sisters, all the boys became good players (two were professionals) after learning the game whilst caddying at Toronto Golf Club.
Thompson then began a career in course design. After starting a family design and construction company and working on many courses he designed Banff Springs in 1928, Canada Pacific funded the project and it is rumoured to be North America’s first million dollar build. It was a course that I had known of for many years and it didn’t let me down. Every hole was framed by spectacular scenery and the bunkers were incredible, apparently, like many other designers of his era, Thompson like a drink or two, I think you can see that in some of his work; the 15th tee is something else! There are many great features that I hope to use in designs of my own in the future.
Once in Vancouver I managed to organise a game at Capilano Golf and Country Club with the assistant superintendant Michael Newton. This was another great example of Thompson’s work and the course has on the whole stayed true to the original design, recent renovations have also reverted back to original features where aspects had changed slightly. The course was as good as I have played anywhere and was in immaculate condition, although we had some rain and it was pretty cloudy the photos are still an explosion of colour! I think it’s a great reflection of the work that is done there. My golf was pretty ropey so I look forward to getting back there one day and playing a little better, thanks for the thrashing Mike!
Whilst in Whistler I was also fortunate to play at Big Sky designed by Bob Cupp. Again the course was great and the scenery unbelievable. Sustainable golf development is a hot topic at the moment in Europe, this was a great example of a course fitting seamlessly with its surroundings; just ask the bears that we saw on the 4th tee!
That’s enough from me but all that is left to say is that the golf I played in Canada was as good as any country I’ve played in, that’s before you take into account the wildlife, rivers and 9000ft mountains that surround you! I must also thank Steve Young at Banff, Chris Wallace at Big Sky and Brad Burgart at Capilano for organising the golf, I definitely owe them all (and some others) a few drinks when they are next in the UK.
You can find out more about Thompson and his design principles at www.stanleythompson.com
Above: The 14th hole playing towards the Banff Springs Hotel
Above: The approach to 13 at Capilano
Above: The 4th at Big Sky with Bears approaching!
Above: A Black bear on the roadside near Whistler