A few years back when I heard there were plans in the works to redevelop the Tsawwassen Golf and Country Club site, I felt a twinge of disappointment. It's not that I was opposed to the housing/golf project proposed by local businessman Ron Toigo, but I was sad to know the end was drawing near for the popular little golf course.
It was the first course I ever played as a 10-year-old, one I enjoyed countless times in adulthood, including during many tournaments, and, more recently, it was an amenity I had the pleasure of introducing to my own son as he took to the game.
It wasn't the swankiest of layouts, but it held its own charm, and nothing improved the numbers on your scorecard faster than a steady diet of straightaway 250-yard par 4s. It was a comfortable place, one deeply ingrained in the community, so its closing created a significant hole in the local links landscape.
I had the opportunity to play its replacement, Tsawwassen Springs, last week and I'm happy to report that any worries about the loss of a favourite haunt have evaporated. The new course, which opened for play earlier this month, has been lengthened and is decidedly more upscale than its predecessor, but designer Ted Locke has done a great job of maintaining what made the old layout so special.
With four sets of tees ranging from 4,000 to almost 5,500 yards, the new design means it's still playable for youngsters, novices, seniors and others that found a level of comfort at the old track, but Locke has upped the ante, bringing Tsawwassen's lone public course into the new millennium.
It poses far greater challenges than the old layout, and not simply because of increased yardage. The days of pulling out the big stick and swinging away with abandon are gone as hazards swallow up errant shots and narrow landing areas put a premium on accuracy.
That's not to suggest it's overwhelming, particularly if you play conservatively and not get too greedy, but, let's just say, you won't get the free ride the previous layout often provided.
After countless rounds at the old course, it will take some getting used to the new routing around some familiar landmarks, but my first impressions are indeed favourable. Locke has taken the old site, and land immediately to the north, and created an eminently playable course that builds on all that was good about its predecessor.
Our old friend has undergone a successful makeover.
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