Sunday, 29 July 2012

Links Magazine piece on Highlands Links

18th with all bunkering returned
James Frank penned a piece for Links Magazine on Highlands Links:

"Hudson is also continuing a program of architectural restoration—overseen by Thompson expert Ian Andrew—to bring the course back to how it looked when Thompson designed it. That means clearing lots of thick spruce and other trees, enlarging greens, and opening up views, especially up to the mountains and out to the sea. The results so far are outstanding and there is more to do. It will be interesting to watch the original Highlands re-emerge."

The article can be found here

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Restoration of 7th Hole Bunkers at Highlands Links


Bunker Builder Thomas Dunne
This week I was back at Highlands Links. Along for the ride was Golf Writer Thomas Dunne who worked with the construction crew. Thomas will be writing an article on his experiences of working on a golf construction crew.

The work on the 7th hole was one of the more complicated projects. The first fairway bunker on the left was a typical restoration where most landforms were largely intact. All we needed to do was put the form back together by removing all the Cooke mounds from the left side. The bunker matches the 1941 photo beautifully. We started there because it was the easiest work to do.

7th fairway bunkers
The next bunker was the right side fairway bunker. Graham Cooke had split this into a series of bunkers, whereas the original was a monster. We not only restored the massive bunker that climbs up the hill to create an intimidating presence, but Thomas got the job of restoring the original island.

I enjoyed watching Thomas obsess over the shapes and features. I tried to stay away so he could go through the trial and error of re-creating a feature alone. I watched from a distance and laughed each time he looked up and down at the photo and the island. I laughed because that’s also what I do. He should be proud of that afternoon because its pretty much spot on.

The next day saw driving rain. If you think my job is all fun and excitement. I spent the entire morning in a deep drainage trench insuring the drain line went in on grade and was backfilled carefully enough to avoid crushing the pipe. With all the stone, this was tough. With all the rain, it was dreadful. But now a significant problem bunker is drained.

The bunker at the green

Today was the final day and we got 95% of the bunker done before I had to go. I’ve taken a picture for you to see. The crew will finish the rest of without me. I’ll see the results next trip out when I do the last hole left.

I have to give Thomas major credit for how hard he worked. Long hours, driving rain and even two hours picking stones. There wasn’t a task he didn’t do and hopefully he got to try every technique we used too. I look forward to his article and I hope be enjoyed the experience !

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Links Magazine and Highlands Links

This is one of three images I have

For The Links article: click this link

"According to the course’s website, Thompson, who died in 1953, considered Highlands something of a tribute to the great courses of Scotland—blind shots, forced carries, pot bunkers, thick grasses—but it is not a links. Far from it. In fact, according to Graham Hudson, the affable operations manager (as well as head superintendent and just about everything else), the word “links” will be deleted from the official name over time, and it will be known as Cape Breton Highlands.

Hudson is also continuing a program of architectural restoration—overseen by Thompson expert Ian Andrew—to bring the course back to how it looked when Thompson designed it. That means clearing lots of thick spruce and other trees, enlarging greens, and opening up views, especially up to the mountains and out to the sea. The results so far are outstanding and there is more to do. It will be interesting to watch the original Highlands re-emerge."


I'm back there next week to work on the 7th hole. I will have golf writer Thomas Dunne along with me and for at least a day or two working as a member of the crew. This will end as a piece for Links Magazine which has taken a key interest in the work going on at Highlands Links,  er ... Cape Breton Highlands. The original name was Cape Breton Highlands Links, that's the one I always liked most.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Bob Weeks at Highlands Links

Graham Hudson ... not your average General Manger

Bob Weeks from Weeks Speaks:

"I got the tour of the course from Graham Hudson, the effervescent manager of the facility and a guy who has to be given a lot of credit for bringing this course back to condition. He went through the red tape of Parks Canada and brought in Ian Andrew to restore Highlands as well as to clear out trees to allow for better growing conditions as well as great scenery. Ocean views are now everywhere and I can report that the conditions are exceptional. The greens are silky smooth and fairways lush and full."

It's important to see more continued comments about the improved conditioning.

"Playing Highlands was a treat. I usually judge a great course by the holes I can remember and not by its best hole, but its worst hole - I actually can't think of a bad one at Highlands.
My favourite might be the par-5 16th, a long, uphill climb to a tricky green. But there were others too, the short par-4 eighth and the par-3 10th impressed me."

I always smile when someone elses list of best holes doesn't match my own at Highlands Links. It says volumes about the depth of quality holes found on the course.

The full article is here: click here


In his article Bob connects Cabot Links to Highlands Links. The fate of Highlands Links is now partially dependent on the success of Cabot Links. Highlands Links needs more tourist rounds if its going to succeed for the long term. Cabot Links has the ability to bring another four to five thousand rounds to Highlands Links as spin off play from Cabot Links.

The second course mentioned multiple times this week will ensure the area becomes a significant golfing destination in North America.

What is critical to Highlands Links is that Parks Canada is currently in a long term program to make all the nessasary improvements to bring back the players. At one time it had enough play to be self supporting. Graham has seen the opportunity that Cabot Links is giving them and siezed this moment to bring Highlands Links back to the forefront in golf.

That is also why I was glad that the first line in Bob's post about Highlands Links gives credit where credit is due.