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Hole #17: In the Style of Stanley Thompson (1894-1953)


Canada’s greatest golf architect, Stanley Thompson, staked out his first course at age 17, but didn’t practice full-time until after service in World War I. Two of his greatest triumphs, Jasper Park and Banff Springs, both in the Canadian Rockies, were done in the mid-1920s. Both mountain layouts displayed strategic design and flamboyant bunkering not previously seen in Canada. His fame quickly spread. By the end of his career, Thompson had designed many of the nation’s greatest courses, from Cape Breton Highlands on the east coast and St. George’s in Toronto, to Capilano on the west coast.

With a personality as flamboyant as his bunkering, Thompson earned the nickname, “The Toronto Terror.” He made and spent fortunes. He started a number of architects in the business, most notably young Robert Trent Jones, who was his partner from the mid-1930s until Thompson’s death.

Our 17th is designed to demonstrate how Stanley Thompson applied the principals of art to golf architecture. The enormous asymmetrical bunker in front of the green provides both informal balance and emphasis. The curving capes of grass and bays of sand in all the bunkers achieve rhythm. The scale of the bunkers and the greens are in proportion, with no single feature dwarfed by others. The mounding behind the green is in harmony with the mountain horizon beyond. Stanley Thompson was an artist of the first order.