Monday, June 06, 2005

Tom Fazio's Coppinwood

Tom Fazio has come back to Canada with a vengeance. Sure, it took him 30 years. His last course in Canada was The National, a project he co-designed with his uncle, George. For whatever reason (maybe he was too busy charging $1.25-million to sculpt flat Florida land into golf), Fazio didn't return.
Until now.
After rumors of a project in the Niagara region to be designed by Fazio failed to come to fruition, he finally got his Canadian projects off the ground late last year. Two are on the books -- a Montreal project being created for Gordon Stollery (Angus Glen's owner) and a second project called Coppinwood, being built north of Toronto for a Toronto Bay Street type.
Not all that much is known, as of yet, about the Montreal course (which will host the 2008 Canadian Open), but the Coppinwood project has gained a fair bit of attention in a short period of time.
Some of that attention has come via an advertising campaign seeking members. It is a little bit odd, using a central character who apparently has a remarkable time playing golf at the course, which isn't open until next year. It is truly one of the strangest ad campaigns for a golf course in some time. If you see it, you'll know what I mean.
Anyway, Fazio was in town last week to tour the site and gladhand the media. I was invited, but was on duty as house husband in charge of a 10 month old, so I couldn't make it to Uxbridge. Apparently what was supposed to be a small gathering turned into more than 100 people, according to the Coppinwood website. Small indeed.
Fazio toured the folks around and apparently made grandiose pronouncements ("Coppinwood is doing everything right," the course's website quotes Fazio as saying. "From the golf course, to the practice facility and the clubhouse, it's all about addressing the needs of the golfer.") All about addressing the needs of the golfer? What a concept.
According to Fazio, the bar for all of golf is being set by Coppinwood, which, admittedly, does have a pretty good site. Bob Cupp and Doug Carrick were previously scheduled to build 36 holes on the site to be called Goodwood, but that changed when the site was sold.
Who knows how good Coppinwood will be? The market for private golf in the Toronto area has tightened up a lot in past years, and a number of historic clubs are desperately seeking members. Then again, Coppinwood will appeal to those interested in a course with star power -- those who like Magna, for example, but feel it is a bit extreme, while probably like Coppinwood. It is Magna without the valet parking and kid on the range ready to wipe down every club you've hit.
The Globe and Mail's Lorne Rubenstein (who apparently doesn't have a toddler to worry about), did get down to Coppinwood to speak with Fazio. Rubenstein even raises the Ron Whitten article about whether Fazio is "good for the game."
Fazio doesn't really respond directly ("Ron's entitled to his opinions," Fazio said. "His main point was that I'm not good for golf. He argued that that I don't build courses that will leave a legacy, that my fairways are too wide, which I've never heard before, and that my courses are too expensive."), but he does say you need to spend millions to crack Golf Digest's Top 100 list.
Tell that to golf's leading Tom (Doak, creator of Pacific Dunes). Now there's an architect someone should bring to Canada.

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