Jasper Park History  by Ian Andrew pg. iii

Hole 9 – Cleopatra

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This single biggest surprise from Golf in Jasper Park was the original bunkering scheme for the 9th hole. The image taken from the upper tee, supported by the perspective water color found in the booklet, confirm that there was “only” a single bunker short of the green. The remaining (six) bunkers formed a ring around the back.

Worth noting: There does appear to be two well-placed mounds, in the foreground, that indicate the ideal line, although the size and prominence suggests suggest these are the reduced version of the famous embellishments. From Golf in Jasper Park, “As the illustration on page 16 [the water color] shows, the green is surrounded by bunkers and the run-offs are severe. It is an interesting “neck or nothing” stroke involving a stiff carry, with the recovery none too easy.”

The plan by Thompson recommends that a new foreground bunker (1) be added where the mounds were located. The bunker closer to the green was to be reshaped and expanded for additional character. Additionally a new bunker (3) was added to the front left to the green to emphasize the alternatives. Players can either play around the right of the front bunker (2) using a running approach or play directly at the green and hope to stop the ball. The remaining bunkers were left exactly the way they were originally built. Which was flat, simple and on the grade of the valley floor well below the green.

Worth noting: All five of the back bunkers show up still on the 1948 aerial, and now there are four, so at some point the far back right bunker was removed.

From Golf at Jasper Park – taken just after opening.

Bunkering after changes – photo from 1946.

Hole 10 – The Maze

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When you look at the earliest images, the Octopus (2) (then known as the Rose Bunker) stood out as the most dramatic of all the bunkers. Stanley Thompson had built it around a significant existing landform including a series of faces and noses extending to and from the high point in the middle. Even the other supporting bunkers around the Octopus were more impressive than most of the others on the course. Thompson made very few changes to any of these bunkers beyond giving them a series of sea-themed nicknames. Now the right side of the first landing features the Octopus, Eel, Crab and Clam.

Closer to the green was where Thompson made his most impressive change by importing enough material to create a ridge separating the two holes. He added a couple of bunkers tight to the fairway side on the 10th to take the place of the larger shared bunker hidden on the other side. On the left side of the hole he created the Walrus bunker by adding noses and mounds to generate a much more intriguing shape. At the green Thompson continued the ridge up the right hand side and turned the original single shared bunker into a dramatic cluster of intricate bunkers built into all side of the new landform. On the left greenside he continued to add topsoil to develop a series of mounds and noses to add a dramatic flair. The results are impressive even today.

From photo set taken just after opening.

Bunkering after changes – photo from 1929.

Hole 11 – Pyramid

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Originally the hole featured two fairway bunkers and two greenside bunkers flanking the green. Thompson indicated that the fairway bunkers would remain untouched, but did subtlety alter the shapes. His focus was at the greenside where he imported plenty of topsoil to create a series of islands and noses. He then developed high sand flashes to turn these into some of the more imaginative bunkers at Jasper. Then to make the green site even more impressive, he imported enough topsoil to build a series of large mounds behind the green adding three bunkers into the back to frame the hole.

Worth noting: Thompson was once asked if the first carry bunker was too close the tees and unfairly punished the shortest hitters. His answer was that everyone loved the thrill of watching a ball carry bunker and even the shortest of hitters should have the opportunity to enjoy that pleasure.

From Golf at Jasper Park – taken just after opening.

Left side bunker – taken in 1946.

Hole 12 – Tete Juane

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The bunkering configuration has remained the same from opening day. The only change Thompson made was to add a series of noses to each of the bunkers to add some additional fair.

From photo set taken just after opening.

Hole 13 – Grand Allee

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One of the more intriguing holes at Jasper because the final shot is played down into a natural draw and is absent of bunkers. The first fairway bunker was split by Thompson into two bunkers and then those forms were broken up with the addition of noses for character. The two bunkers protecting the 17th tee saw the addition of noses to create more imaginative capes and bays. The key left side bunker at the top of the hill was left alone.

From photo set taken just after opening.

Hole 14 – Lac Beauvert

There were never any bunkers on this hole.

Worth noting: Stanley Thompson did build holes with trees in play. They were always set off to one side or the other, but these were far more intrusive than most of his peers.

From photo set taken just after opening

Hole 15 – The Bad Baby

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“This is the little one, a mashie or mashie niblick shot to a wedge shaped green, very narrow at the front, but wider at the back, giving a skyline green, with run-offs and bunkers all around, and water in appearance quite close.” A. J. Hills

The front and rear bunkers are quite visible from the tee, but the real challenge is all the short fall-offs around the green between the bunkers. The front of the green is almost impossible to stop a ball on without it peeling out the front or off the sides and rolling well down the slope. It’s one of those wonderful short holes that is far harder than it initially appears.

Thompson only added a nose to the front bunker and made the most minor changes to the back bunker, the hoe remains almost unchanged.

From photo set taken just after opening.

Picture taken in 1946 – from in front of the 16th tee.

Hole 16 – The Bay

This hole is all about the position of the pin in relation to the inlet.

Worth noting: There was a little stone wall in the lake in the earliest images of the hole. I have wondered whether this was added to keep boaters out of play or whether this section of the lake was added by Thompson during construction. The whole area is very shallow compared to the other areas along the shoreline. The original green went much further in front than the current location making the green boomerang around the inlet.

From photo set taken just after opening.

Hole 17 – The Climber

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The hole originally featured three bunkers: one on the right approach, a second tight to the front right of the green and the last on the left in the middle of the green. Thompson retained the first bunker and added a couple of fingers for interest. He kept the left side bunker where it was, but added a finger to break the form into two prominent bays. The plan indicated jus some minor changes to the right bunker, but instead he added mounding and expanded the front right bunker further into the green. He then added a second bunker along the back right of the green to frame the entire backdrop with bunkers.

From photo set taken just after opening.

Bunkering after changes – photo from 1929.

Hole 18 – Home

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“Perhaps it is the remarkable visibility of this second shot that makes the hole almost outstanding, and by many regard the best hole on the course.” A. J. Hills

The tee shot needs to be played down the left side to shorten the approach and provide the ideal angle. That is where the first fairway bunker resides and Thompson left that bunker where it was but raised the back to make the carry more fearsome.

The next shot is one of the most beautiful on the golf course with two approach bunkers and two bunkers tight to the sides of the green. In essence it creates a green “or else” approach. Thompson added a finger to the left approach bunker, two fingers to the right approach bunker and two more to the left flanking bunker to create a more visually dramatic complex of bunkers around the green. In the plan he indicated he would leave the right greenside bunker in its original shape, but did actually add some minor shape to the outside of that one too.

From photo set taken just after opening.

Jasper Park’s 18th as it looks today.

What I find interesting about the bunker renovation at Jasper Park is it provides a window into what was going on inside of Stanley Thompson during this period. He was quickly transitioning from a very good architect to the creator of some of the most impressive and imaginative landscapes the game has ever seen. It provides a chance to observe what he saw differently from one era to the next.

Afterword

I’ve been asked numerous times, if I had only a single round to play, where would I want to play? My answer has always been Jasper Park Golf Course. For me, it is the quintessential Canadian golfing experience. Something you can’t find anywhere else in the world.

Legend has it that Stanley Thompson designed each hole to point at a different mountain peak in the distance. He also increased the width of his clearing to ensure that each shot featured a broad panoramic view of the mountains beyond. Stanley Thompson said, “It is good to have an eye for the beautiful. Often it is possible, by clearing away undesirable and unnecessary trees in the margin of fairways, to open up a view of some attractive picture.” And at Jasper Park every step of your journey is done in awe of your surroundings.

But Jasper Park is much more than that. Stanley Thompson designed his courses for the enjoyment of the average player. He spent far more time concerned about the play of the “dub” than he did trying to test the “crackerjack”. He built his share of impressive holes and even a few of the “insurmountable” variety, but by-in-large most of his holes offered a clear line around all the complexity to keep the average player “in the game”. He stated that his objective was to bring joy to all the players.

And that is why Jasper Park is so personal to me. It is the embodiment of what I believe great architecture is should be. It is my entire set of ideals displayed in Canada’s most impressive landscape.

I undertook this journey to find out if this was indeed “the” watershed moment for Canadian Golf. I think of Harry Colt’s Toronto Golf Club as our landmark course. But I also believe Thompson’s work surpassed Colt in Canada and he is our most influential designer. As an architect and as a historian I always wanted to know when that exact moment Thompson’s had his epiphany was. I had previously thought this came at Banff Springs, but I’m no longer sure. The more I ventured down the path, the more I believe that it came at Jasper Park.

I would expect my final round at Jasper Park to be fun. I would enjoy the early opportunities to score, the greatest collection of threes in Canada, the whimsy of the sea themed bunkers, Cleopatra’s “assets”, the late magical trip around the glacial lake, Thompson’s artist bunkering and bold green contours. And as Alister MacKenzie wrote in his book, The Spirit of St. Andrews, “… the 18th hole is one of the finest finishes I know.”

THE END