The Stanley Thompson Society
Through education, the Society is dedicated to the conservation of all historic golf courses in Canada that exhibit values embraced by Stanley Thompson and the other Golden Era architects.
Suite 104, 89 King St. W., Dundas, Ontario, L9H 1V1
Since you are interested in joining the Oshawa Golf and Curling Club, you may be asking why you should join and belong to a Stanley Thompson course. The simple answer is that they are great courses for golfers of all levels of skill. Stanley summarized his design philosophy by saying, “The most successful course is one that will test the skill of the most advanced golfer without discouraging the duffer while adding to the enjoyment of both.” This is important because many golf courses are NOT designed with this in mind.
Let me explain. This design philosophy was most prevalent during the Golden Era of golf course design. The Golden Era is generally defined as the period between the two world wars, but may be better defined as the period of time during which the prominent architects used the shared values they learned from the great courses of the old country to introduce golf course design to North America. This type of design is often called Strategic, as opposed to the Penal design that dominated the eras before and after the Golden Era.
The strategic design has proven to be more pleasurable for all levels of golfers than the penal design which can often only be enjoyed by more talented players. The reason is that the strategically designed golf hole will generally allow the player to make choices about how to play the hole. As any example, a strategically designed par 4 will often permit the skilled golfer to take an aggressive shot to the green that, if successfully executed, may result in par or birdie. However, unlike a penal par 4, the strategic par 4 will usually present the less skilled golfer with the alternative of placing the second shot just short of the green, with an opportunity to have an unobstructed chip to the hole. The strategic philosophy is also evident in Stanley’s thinking about bunkers. In his book, ‘About Golf Courses’, Stanley wrote, “In no case should bunkers be unfair. One should be able to get out with one shot without herculean effort.” In other works, bunkers should not be penal, or traps.
Strategically designed courses tend to have few, if any, forced carries. There are usually openings at the front of greens that give players an unobstructed shot to the green. Very few greens demand a high trajectory iron shot with back spin to play the hole successfully. The Golden Era encompassed a period of time when clubs transitioned from hickory to steel. Consequently, most courses were built between 6,300 and 6,600 yards.
This does not mean that strategically designed courses are easy for the scratch golfer. Less length does not necessarily mean easier if the hole is properly designed. Many of the hardest holes on the PGA tour are short par 4s. You may also want to refer to the scores at the recent Canadian Opens played on strategically designed courses; St. Georges (Stanley Thompson) and Hamilton (Harry Colt).
A major advantage the Golden Era architects had was the availability of better land and their desire and ability to ‘tread lightly’ on the natural landscape. As Stanley was fond of saying, “nature must always be the architects guide”. They relied on the characteristics of the existing landscape to dictate routing, determine strategic intent, and provide elements of surprise and opportunities for chance all without moving much material. The results are courses that look like they have been there forever and which fit seamlessly into the landscape. There are about 168 courses in Canada that are considered to be of the Golden Era. Stanley Thompson was by far the most prolific with 93 courses still in existence. Willie Park and A.V. Macan follow with 13 each. T. Bendelow, G. Cumming, D. Ross, A. Murray, H. Colt, A.W. Tillinghast and others round out the field. These courses stand the test of time. One third of Score Golf’s Top 100 are Golden Era.
As a member of Oshawa, you are part owner of a national treasure and heritage landscape. The relatively small number of these in Canada means you are a member of an exclusive club with pride in preserving it for future generations to enjoy.
New members at Oshawa are also eligible for a complementary one year membership with the Stanley Thompson Society. For more information about the Society please contact:
Grant Forrest, Executive Director
The Stanley Thompson Society