Monday, 26 January 2015

Jasper Park Evolution


I spent the last month researching and writing a piece on the evolution of Jasper Park Golf Course. I plan to post the article in a week or two on Golf Club Atlas as a resource for people to understand and appreciate the work of Stanley Thompson. The piece has approximately 40 images to support the text.

With all the early praise for Jasper in 1925-1926, it’s stunning to think that the bunkers at Jasper Park would look quite different by the time they played the Canadian Amateur in 1929. The piece reviews Jasper from the origins through to the 1929 Amateur.

It has been long rumored that the work was done immediately upon the completion of construction of Banff Springs, which would have meant 1929. The story was that once the CNR had seen the finished results at Banff Springs they demanded Thompson return to Jasper immediately and make their bunkers even more impressive than Banff’s.

The only problem with this story is by the summer of 1929 Jasper Park had hosted the Canadian Amateur and the pictures taken in that year clearly show the bunkers have been changed prior to the event.

6th green - looking out over the 10th hole

In the Fall of 1928 a team of British senior golfers, including Alister Mackenzie, visited Jasper. Mackenzie was quoted saying,, “In Jasper Park Lodge Golf Course, Canada has taken the lead in golf course architecture and has produced 18 holes that within the whole scope of my experience and knowledge are not surpassed. Quite apart from its scenic features, which are glorious, and considering it purely from the golfing standpoint, I consider the course to be the best I have ever seen. It is greater than our Gleneagles which we are inordinately proud.” Regina Post September 1928

It was far more likely that Mackenzie was impressed by what Jasper had become that what was originally built. So when was the work done...

My research took me to some unusual locations to retrieve photos and information. The source of some very important photos turned out to be the Science and Technology Museum. With-in their archives I was able to go through the collection of railway images from CNR. This was my long-shot, but my intuition was rewarded with exactly what I hoped to find, photos of Jasper Park from 1929 and 1946. The first clue to their existence came from a couple of images at the Yellowhead Museum in Jasper Townsite.
4th green in 1926
But the more rewarding find was the book Golf in Jasper Park by A.J. Hills in the Toronto Resource Library. In that book, I was able to use the information on each hole to piece the puzzle to what was built and what was changed by Thompson.

What I found compelling about the bunker renovation at Jasper Park is it provides a window into what was going on inside of Stanley Thompson during this period. He was quickly transitioning from a very good architect to the creator of some of the most impressive and imaginative landscapes the game has ever seen. It provides a chance to observe what he saw differently from one period of his career to the next - the one that made him a legend.


Of note: None of these images were used in the piece 


2 comments:

  1. Hi Ian, neat stuff on Thompson and Jasper's historic course. I wonder if you'd be interested in talking to me for an article in my newspaper, The Jasper Local?
    I can be reached at bob@thejasperlocal.com
    I hope to hear from you!
    Bob Covey
    www.thejasperlocal.com

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  2. Ian,

    It's great to see you writing again. I will look forward to reading the Jasper article.

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