Course Preview: Tom Fazio's Coppinwood
He's likely the best known and most expensive designer in the world, but Tom Fazio hasn't worked in Canada since developing the National Golf Club of Canada alongside his uncle in 1975. That's all changed with Coppinwood, a new private course scheduled to open in Uxbridge in late May.
The private club, which costs $75,000 to join, is the boldest new facility to open near Toronto in several years. At a time when numerous private courses are struggling (Summit Golf Club and Thornhill, for example), Coppinwood will try to portray itself as a superior golf facility and entice new members to pull out their cheque book.
So what do we know about the golf course?
In many ways Tom Fazio like a chain of high-end restaurants. You can be assured the food will always be good, but the chain will never take the risks to make it great. The same can be said of many of Fazio's courses. He'll never make a bad course (not with the budgets he works with -- regularly more than $10-million per course), but the facilities he creates are often more style than substance. Pretty golf courses where the aesthetics are remarkable, but the golf is, well, just good.
That was the point of an article by Golf Digest critic Ron Whitten last year when he asked the question, Is Tom Fazio Good For Golf?
Whitten essentially concluded this:
Clients love Tom Fazio because he creates more headlines than headaches. Golfers love him because he doesn't beat them up. And rival architects love him—well, they appreciate him—because his splashy impact has helped raise everybody's fees.
What does this mean for Coppinwood? Well, nothing so far. The course is reputedly built on a great site that had several Canadian architects drooling over their chance to build on it. Initially conceived as 36 holes, the course is now 18, with three practice holes. The partners behind the course, including the powers behind Maxium Financial, are astute businessmen with deep connections. They've hired a great pro in Euan Dougal, formerly of Eagles Nest and Bigwin Island. Everything seems to be lined up, so the only question is whether the course is great, or just good? If it is great, this could be a home run. If it is just good, it'll still be a success, but it'll take longer to fill up the membership.
The photos I've included with this write up make it hard to determine what Fazio has delivered. It certainly is pretty, with bold bunkers with clean lines and greens perched in dramatic locations. The vistas look great.
I'm planning on getting a closer look as soon as the snow departs, so I'll try to draw a better conclusion then.