Course morphs for added challenge: Owner can change par-3s to par-5s in the same day
The following appears for those Torontogolfnuts interested in the Tri-Par golf course that I toured in August/2003. I guess the course should have opened by now, but there's been no word on this unusual project. It would be interesting to see just how this could be pulled off.
Here's the story:
While a name like the Maples makes any golf course sound common and uninspired, it is safe to say that the project being built under that moniker in a small Ontario town is anything but typical.
The Maples course in Noelville, Ont., about four hours north of Toronto, is going to be the first to use the "Tri-Par" concept, a creation of Ed and Scott McBride, brothers based in Sudbury, Ont. Their idea is to build golf courses in which every hole can be configured as a par-three through to a par-five. The Maples, which owner Mike Bouffard is scheduled to open next summer after three years of construction, is the first test vehicle for the idea.
The McBrides have patented their Tri-Par idea, which takes about 25% more land than the typical golf course.
So what are the defining characteristics of a Tri-Par course? First, Tri-Par courses could play to around 9,000 yards, which is essentially the length of the 18 par-fives that make up the basic course. And the concept allows owners to change the course each day, dictating at what length and par each hole will play.
Having players choose the par for a hole they wanted to play would simply be too dangerous and difficult, says Ed McBride. But owners could change the tees twice a day, meaning golfers could play one course in the morning and a different layout in the afternoon.
Golfers playing the Maples will have to ride in carts, as there could potentially be long stretches between tees depending on the configuration. There are eight tee boxes on each hole, allowing for women, senior and championship play.
Bouffard, an avid golfer who has overseen much of the construction, thinks players will be excited about playing a course that can be configured to play as 18 par- fives, though I expect there are some shorter hitters out there that have nightmares about such things. The plan is for the Maples to play as exclusively par-fives a few times a month and let golfers know about the configuration through the course's Web site.
"I think we'll find that people will travel a long way to play this kind of layout," Bouffard says. "After all, it will be the only place in the world where you can do it."
Not everyone is convinced the Tri-Par idea will work.
"Sounds kind of strange to me," said Tom McBroom, one of Canada's best-known golf designers and a member of the prestigious American Society of Golf Course Architects.
McBroom said he builds a different green complex that is determined by the length of the approach shot. Have a long iron shot into a lengthy par-three? Well then the green might be larger. Have a wedge into a par-five? Then the green would be smaller. McBroom says it would be difficult to build a green that would function properly for everything from a par-three to par-five.
But Bouffard isn't about to be deterred. He expects the novelty of the course will draw people to the rural area to play it, and the experience will get people to return. When I was there last week, Bouffard, who has spent less than $2-million on the project, had cleared the land for all 18 holes, determined where the tees would be set, and built some green complexes. Nine are expected to be open next June and the forest through which the course has been cut should make it look mature. As the inventors of the Tri-Par idea, the McBrides will receive a royalty on every round played.
While Bouffard admits the course may stir up some discussion about the way golf has been traditionally played, he says the Tri-Par idea is not that controversial.
"You're not changing the game," he notes. "You're just changing the par."