St George G&CC in Toronto in Toronto has reopened after a greens reconstruction led by golf architects Tom Doak and Ian Andrew.
Doak’s crew at Renaissance Golf Design handled the construction work, which was carried out between July and September last year, with a goal of returning the club’s greens to the original intent of architect Stanley Thompson, who designed the course almost 90 years ago.
Damage caused to the greens by the winter of 2013-14 prompted the club to embark on the reconstruction project. When the course opened for the 2014 season, 12 temporary greens were in play, and, after assessing the damage, 95 per cent of members voted in June in favour of the restoration.
A team that included Andrew, Doak and his two on-site supervisors Eric Iverson and Brian Schneider, golf course construction experts Evans Golf, Atkinson Irrigation and Zander Sod all pulled together with the St. George’s Greens Department, which was led by course superintendent Keith Bartlett, Tom Kinsman, Ben Daly, Michael Shoemaker and Paul Torunski. Work commenced on 8 July and concluded on 30 September.
“The major concern on retaining the heritage of the greens was not lost on the architect team of Ian Andrew and Tom Doak,” said Bartlett. “During the excavation of the old greens, the existing clay tile confirmed that many of the original greens have now been restored closer to the original size and shape than they were previously and we have completely remodelled the third to take it back to its original roots.”
Other changes included moving cart paths out of sight on the second, fifth and tenth holes and removing them altogether on the right side of the ninth green and the twelfth tee.
“Members will be able to putt some greens from memory, but they will have to re-learn a lot of other greens and pin locations before they will begin to feel comfortable,” said Ian Andrew. “ I think members may be a little perplexed initially, but once they have enough experience with the new greens they will be very pleased that they undertook this project.”
“Having never worked on a Stanley Thompson course before, it was a highlight to start with one of his finest, and to work with Ian Andrew and Keith Bartlett who know so much about its history,” said Doak. “Restoring the third hole in all its glory was something I couldn't and didn’t envision until we got out in the dirt and started trying to make it all fit the ground.”
“We have always felt our course layout was world-class. Now we can take pride in having world-class greens to match,” says David Imrie, chair of the board at St George’s. “It has been an amazing process to be part of and well worth the wait. Many of the improvements throughout the course are very subtle, while the change on the third hole is dramatic. Throughout, we had a great team that always concentrated on putting the focus back on Stanley Thompson’s original work when it came to the greens and the overall experience and that will hopefully be the legacy of this project when we look back at it ten years from now.”
Other changes have included; creating a turfgrass nursery between the fifth and seventh that can be used for junior camps and a leaf storage compound. Fairway expansions were a key focus for Doak during his visits and his suggestions have been recorded and will return the fairways to their original 1929 widths.