Mackenzie & Ebert begins renovation work at Hamilton G&CC

  • Hamilton

    Mackenzie & Ebert has started renovation work at Hamilton Golf & Country Club (the eleventh during the 1919 Canadian Open, pictured)

  • Hamilton

    The architects are making use of original Harry Colt material (a Colt sketch of the first hole, pictured)

  • Hamilton

    A letter from Colt’s partner Hugh Alison following an inspection of the completed course

  • Hamilton

    Aerials of the layout in 1934 and 2014

  • Hamilton

    A visualisation showing new fairway bunkers on the South nine’s eighth hole

  • Hamilton

    The ninth hole at Hamilton during the 1919 Canadian Open

Richard Humphreys
By Richard Humphreys

The UK-based golf course architecture firm of Mackenzie & Ebert has started renovation work at Hamilton Golf & Country Club in Ontario, Canada.

Planning work has included a thorough study of historic materials in the club’s archives, which included many of Harry Colt’s original sketches.

Colt’s layout of eighteen holes, now known as the West and South nines, opened in 1916. The East nine was added in 1975 by Robbie Robinson.

“The plan is to reconstruct each nine in turn, keeping the members playing eighteen holes throughout, albeit for some periods to nine temporary greens while the new greens fully establish,” said Martin Ebert.

“Reconstructing the bunkers is a significant aspect of the project. Over the years, the bunkers have become very refined. Hence, the bunker style to be adopted for this project will be rougher, in line with Colt’s original intentions, with fescue edges, while acknowledging that the players of today demand rather more in the way of a manicured finish.

“Recently, the club has undertaken a major clearance programme to open views and, just as importantly, to create much better growing conditions for the greens, tees and fairways,” continued Ebert. “That is so important in the harsh Canadian winter climate when there can be no grass left on greens in the spring if vulnerable poa annua is stuck by serious ice damage. This has been the case at Hamilton in the past. This forms part of the brief for the project. The reconstruction of the greens to a modern specification will allow more resilient bentgrass to be maintained on the greens. At the same time, the opportunity will be made to give them shapes which Harry Colt might have formed and which the club probably never had.”

Work on the East nine aims to result in holes that fit more closely to the character of the original Colt course.

Hamilton hosted the RBC Canadian Open for the sixth time in 2019. With the tournament scheduled to return to the club in 2023, the renovation project is expected to be complete by 2021.

This article is based on material that first appeared in the October 2019 issue of Golf Course Architecture. For a printed subscription or free digital edition, please visit our subscriptions page.