Monday, 24 October 2011

Recent Highlands Links Reviews

16th fairway

There has been a lot of people out to see the course this fall.
Here are a few of the recent reviews:

Going for the Green by Robert Thompson

"They should be applauded for what they’ve done. As hard as it was to imagine even a few years ago, Parks Canada has helped lead the resurrection of Canada’s greatest public golf course. While the sixth hole has struggled since the storm, everything else has vastly improved. Greens were in the best condition I’ve seen since the course opened."

story can be found here:

Fairways and Greens by Vic Williams

"A high storm in December 2010 threatened to send Highland Links back into the shadows, but the government came through with the funds needed to return damaged green complexes and bunkers to their rightful places in the vast Thompson repertoire, and though the course is closing for the winter, it’ll open next May with a full head of “come discover me” steam. With opening and finishing holes next to the Atlantic and a whole lot of high-flying adventure in between, Highland Links pretty much encapsulates the Cape Bretoner’s nature-embracing, fun-loving character."

story can be found here:

Cape Breton Post by LeRoy Peach

"I didn’t actually play the Highlands Links, however, I toured the course with Clara Hardy, the starter, who pointed out the improvements made by golf architect Ian Andrew, hired by Parks Canada to recover features eliminated over the years — features which the great Stanley Thompson, the designer, had included in 1939. Ian Andrew did more. He improved the sightlines by culling the encroaching forest on some holes.

Let’s look first at the improved vistas. The trees have been removed from the third tee of the beautiful par three to improve the seascape, including Ingonish Island. Workers culled trees behind the green on No. 8 to let in more sunlight. Likewise there was a cull on No. 9 green and between the 13th and 14th holes — an improvement which now makes it possible to see the sixth hole, the par 5 along the ocean. The most spectacular sightline, however, is on the 16th green. From the back of this green one can now see the greens on Nos. 2 and 3, the tee on No. 4, and most importantly the beautiful North Bay beach.

Thompson was always cognizant of the importance of environment, of never taking away from nature. “Revealed holes” (that is to say, holes “found” in the landscape by Thompson) are juxtaposed against great natural backgrounds. Indeed, backward views were very precious to him. On the elevated side of the 12th green one can look back at the beautiful Clyburn. On the 16th green one views the wondrous face of Franey Mountain.

As well, there have been significant changes to the holes themselves. Through myriads of historic photographs, some of them aerials, Andrew has been able to put back certain features of this masterpiece. In some cases bunkers were rediscovered, in others tweaked. Likewise, some greens have been refurbished. The result is an ever more beautiful layout.

On the par three fifth hole, the bunkers at the back were reconfigured and the so-called dragon bunker on the right side of the green, just above a swale, redefined. The little pot bunker in front of it is the dragon’s flaming breath. Likewise on the 13th hole, a bunker (“a face with a missing tooth”) was restored. On the beautifully balanced 17th hole, a bunker on the left was restored and a bunker on the right was reshaped. Finally, aerials revealed fairway bunkers on the left at the 18th hole and those have been restored. All of these bunkers are stroke savers — depending upon the skills of golfers.
From greens to bunkers, this course is in the best shape that I have ever seen it. Indeed, Ian Andrew has breathed new life into it — increased its beauty and golf values. In his blog, he says himself that, “I have never been more optimistic about the long term future of the golf course.”

Naysayers be damned. I agree totally."

story can be found here:

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