It’s hard to believe that Tom Fazio, one of the world’s best known and most sought after golf architects, hadn’t added a single course in thirty years to his Canadian portfolio (since working on the National Golf Club of Canada in Woodbridge with Uncle George in 1975) but that all changed in 2006 when Coppinwood was unveiled to potential private members.
Those behind the Coppinwood project – including Paul McLean of Maxium, a golf financing company involved with over six hundred clubs – believe the long delay for another Canadian Fazio design was worth every second of the wait as he transformed their expansive property of over 300 acres into yet another big budget 18-hole layout.
Plenty of earth was shifted during construction (well over a million cubic metres according to some) and the resulting holes look anything but manufactured, as if they have always belonged on the estate. Fairways with bold, flashed sand bunkers and large, inviting raised greens characterize a course that asks questions of the golfer on every shot.
Unfortunately, membership issues bedeviled the private club behind the course right from the outset with numbers well down on initial projections. Granted, the economic climate hasn’t helped in recent times but, even before the recession bit, potential members seemed concerned that the multi millions of dollars spent on the course had produced a course that fell some way short of claiming a place amongst the best in the country.
Detractors contend that if you strip away positive factors such as a lack of housing or traffic on site, superb practice facilities and fantastic course conditioning then you are left with a layout that suffers from several forgettable holes on the front nine, negating a back nine of some character where the land has been put to better use. It’s felt by some that Coppinwood may be one of the prettiest courses in Canada but style over substance makes for good, not great, golf.
Sarah Werstler from Fazio Design commented as follows: "Coppinwood was the ultimate assignment for a golf course designer.
Our client, Syd Menashy and his partners approached us with a goal to create the ultimate “golfer’s” club. No houses, not a country club with lots of amenities – just a great golf course for members who love golf.
He had a great piece of property, with dramatic elevations and great vegetation, and the property was so large that we had the freedom to explore and incorporate all the site’s strengths into the course.
Syd and his partners also included a comprehensive practice facility that every golfer would love to have. The result is a tremendously exciting and varied golf course that is uncluttered by outside influences and provides a great test of golf. It is truly a golfer’s club."