Construction of Friday Harbour course completed ahead of 2018 opening

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    Bunkers on the opening hole at Friday Harbour

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    The eleventh hole features an undulating fairway

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    The final three holes, including here on the sixteenth, wind through mature forest

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    The third hole at Friday Harbour

Sean Dudley
By Sean Dudley

The construction of a new golf course near Lake Simcoe in Canada has reached completion.

Friday Harbour Resort is located in the province of Ontario, and features an 18-hole course – The Nest at Friday Harbour – designed by Canadian architect Doug Carrick.

Having spoken to Carrick earlier in the project’s development, GCA caught up with the architect again to get his thoughts on how the course has turned out.

“Reflecting back now that the course is complete, it’s interesting to think how the project and the design evolved over the years, from when I sketched the first course routing back in 2001,” Carrick said. “The earliest designs for the golf course integrated the golf course into the heart of the resort development and marina basin, situated on the shores of Lake Simcoe. The early plans contemplated a continuous 18-hole layout with the first and eighteenth holes starting and finishing at the centre of the resort and surrounded by the resort development, in a similar fashion to the way the first and eighteenth holes of the Old Course are enveloped by the old town of St Andrews.”

This initial plan didn’t however come to fruition.

“Through the planning and approval process that extended across the span of 11 years, a 200-acre nature preserve was established to protect a large forested area, along with a number of small wetland features,” Carrick explained. The result is a high density contemporary resort development, centred around a 1,000 slip, 40 acre manmade marina, with the accompanying 18-hole championship length golf course situated on 200 acres of contiguous land approximately one kilometre west of the marina basin.

Carrick believes the fact the golf course is away from the main resort development has created a ‘pure standalone golf experience’, as well as making the course far more walkable.

“Locating the golf course on a more contiguous parcel of flat, open farmland has also saved our client millions of dollars in earthmoving costs, by accommodating the disposal of more than two million cubic metres of earth excavated from the marina to a site located close by on their own property,” he said.

Carrick designed bold landforms on the golf course to accommodate the material hauled away from the marina excavation – something he described as being a ‘very interesting and rewarding experience.’ 

“Transforming a flat open farm field into 15 dramatically undulating golf holes, while creating a natural looking landscape has certainly challenged my design creativity more than any other project,” he said. “The final three holes of the golf course wind through mature forest, where we could rely more on mother nature to provide the canvas on which to situate the holes.”

Carrick believes the bold undulations in the fairways will give golfers a different playing experience from one day to the next at Friday Harbour.

“Having some irregularities in the fairways makes the golf course and little more unpredictable and ultimately more interesting to play,” he said. “It also provides more visual interest and character to the individual holes. The bunkering style was inspired by many of the ‘sandbelt’ courses in Australia, including Royal Melbourne. I think the highly groomed turf surrounding the bunkers will help the bunkers to collect errant shots rolling towards them, creating a golf experience that is unique to the Southern Ontario golf market. It will be interesting to see how the maintenance of the closely mown turf will be handled by the course superintendent, Brent Rogers, and his crew.”

The ninth hole was the final hole to be dormant seeded, and Carrick is hoping for an early spring along with some good growing weather.

Carrick added: “I am pleased with the overall result and will be anxious to see how golfers receive the course when it opens next summer.”

The course is likely to be ready for play in August 2018.