Thursday, April 07, 2005

Canadian Spring golf magazines hit the market, boggle the mind

So three major Toronto papers -- The National Post, The Toronto Sun and now the Toronto Star -- have brought out their seasonal golf magazines. Now, of course, the Post's was hands down the best, but man there was some crap in the other two.

Here are the highlights:

From the Toronto Sun: Bill Lankoff writes a remarkably questionable story about Canadian architect Graham Cooke. Problem with the story is that Lankoff clearly hasn't seen many of the courses Cooke speaks of, including Highlands Links, or he couldn't possibly have written the dribble that appeared in the Sun's publication.

Among the great comments on Cooke's restoration work is this:

"He has reverence for the past and it is reflected in his golf courses," writes Lankoff. "His greatest passion is bringing aged courses that have fallen into disrepair back to former glory.
"I like the word restoration because a lot of old courses have been lost around the world to renovation. If you take the style and character that the original architect had in mind and use more modern techniques to enhance that style .... in my mind that gives me a lot of pleasure. It doesn't have to carry my name .... I like the original architect's name to survive .... We should do more classical restoration works."

All of this is remarkable because the courses I've seen that Cooke has "restored" (Scarboro is a good example, as is Highlands Links) demonstrate that he has no sense of the history of the course or what the original architect did. The only hope is that Cooke is kept far, far away from other classic works. Of course, he's scheduled to work on Royal Ottawa soon. God help them. My new nickname for Cooke is "The Butcher." His cart paths at Highlands Links are the worst I've ever seen. Remarkably inept.

But my favourite Cooke quote is about how he felt Thompson was "with" him during one of his very few visits to Highlands Links, one of Canada's great golf courses.
On Highlands:

"I felt a sort of respect.... as if he was by my side and we're looking at this hole.... and I'm thinking what would he do given what made him renowned ... and then let me try to follow what he recommended."

I wonder if Cooke ever heard Thompson screaming, "Graham, you're a good player, but stay the hell away from my golf courses. You don't have a clue."

From the Toronto Star:

The Star has a couple of really strange bits in its magazine, which appeared today. First of all, there's the Bogey Man, the Star's anonymous golf critic. He lists his Top 18 courses in the Toronto area. The list shows that whomever writes this column simply doesn't have any sense of what makes a good golf course. After all, the very average The Rock Golf Club in Muskoka ends up at #2 on his list, while Eagles Nest, the terrific new Doug Carrick course that opened last year and is the best club to open in Canada in some time, doesn't appear at all. He also likes some mediocre golf -- like Deerhurst (which is more than two hours from Toronto). It is a silly list, but not as silly as Dave Perkins comments in a column he wrote in the paper.

Perkins, writing about expensive golf, calls The Old Course in St. Andrews, "the most commercial golfing experience this hacker ever had." I guess he's never played on the Vegas strip or made a trip to Myrtle Beach. He then goes on to say the New Course is superior (just proving he can't really discern good from great golf) and says Carnoustie, at $40 cheaper, represents "a better value for a better, more difficult golf course."

Now I like Carnoustie and am a big fan, but I don't think it has the charm of The Old Course and I've always had a tough time thinking that tougher equaled better.

Anyway, all this proves is just how marginal most Canadian golf writing is.

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