Wednesday, December 14, 2005

New course preview: The Raven at Lora Bay

In June, when the weather was warmer and I was sitting on my deck sipping a Coke, I had an opportunity to speak with Tom Lehman via phone while he was driving back from Collingwood. Lehman had been working on The Raven at Lora Bay, an Intrawest golf course that he was creating with Tom McBroom. I have little faith in PGA Tour pros when it comes to golf course design -- it appears more like a marketing vehicle than it does a true interest in golf architecture. More about taking the money and doing a ribbon cutting than figuring out where drainage tiles and greenside bunkers should go.
It appears that Lehman may actually be different. He appeared on site far more than Tom McBroom expected, and even took the time to see some of Toronto's interesting golf courses, like Toronto Golf and St. George's.

Anyway, with that in mind, here are some shots from the course, which will open next summer (photos are courtesy of Tom McBroom). It appears the bunker style is more reminiscent of McBroom's mid-period work, as opposed to the scruffy faced bunkers he's created more recently at places like Firerock. It is interesting how this style of bunkering has so quickly fallen out of vogue. Starting with the reworked St. George's, scruffy, wild looking bunkers have cropped up in a number of places, including McBroom's Ambassador Club, the reworked Weston Golf Club and The Club at Bond Head. Of course much of this is influenced by the re-establishment of the classicists through the work of Tom Doak and Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw.

Regardless, McBroom and Lehman chose a more conservative style of bunker, though the lines and faces still look quite bold and distinctive. In other places, like the photo with Georgian Bay in the backdrop, the course has some of the aesthetics that were witnessed in the Georgian Bay Club, which is not suprising considering it is located on a site not too far away.

On first inspection, and without having seen the course, it looks like a relatively friendly resort course, not out of line with McBroom's recent work at Wildfire near Peterborough. My judgement is reserved on this one for the time being.

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