Tag Archives: Ian Andrew

Restoring a Stanley Thompson Classic: The plan

Every bunker was rebuilt with only the assistance of a backhoe. There was no topsoil or sod available, and the crew had to re-use everything it found onsite. Photo courtesy Highlands Links

By Ian Andrew

The work on Highlands Links Golf Course started with massive tree removal done by accessing an emergency fund in Parks Canada. This gave us the money to keep the staff on another six weeks. The first winter, 1.6 ha (4 acre) were taken out, and three more followed over the next few years in an effort to restore ocean and mountain views, and expose all the greens to morning and afternoon sunlight.

The second stage was brought on by a horrendous storm in late fall 2010 that left the 11th hole under 0.6 m (2 ft) of sand, gravel, and river stone. The larger material was removed by machine, but the last inch had to be taken out by rake and shovel (and almost exclusively by five ladies). Since the bunkers were also badly damaged, this began an in-house bunker rebuilding program at the same time.

The park insisted its staff undertake the project internally, which was fine other than nobody on staff had any bunker construction experience. We also did not have the appropriate equipment, so I found myself in the role of teacher, supervisor, and labourer. The bunker crew turned out to be excellent, and the five of us managed to rebuild every bunker with only the assistance of a backhoe. We had no topsoil or sod available, and had to re-use everything we found onsite. The work was at times painstaking, but at least I had muscles for the first time in 25 years!

Read the full article: Restoring a Stanley Thompson Classic

Restoring a Stanley Thompson Classic


By Ian Andrew

In 2008, I visited Highlands Links Golf Course in Ingonish Beach, N.S., located in Cape Breton Highlands National Park. I was frustrated by the recent changes that had been made to it. I desperately wanted to restore the course so others could see this masterpiece in its original form, as I had done in 1981.

In 2009, I was hired to create a restoration plan for Highlands Links. Parks Canada wanted the golf course put back to Stanley Thompson’s original design. I put together a restorative master plan that took about three months of finding and analyzing old photos to determine what was originally built. However, that was just the start, since we also had to address some serious agronomic issues, and in particular, a lack of drainage on the course. The plan called for opening up the original views, expanding the playing corridors, eliminating or hiding the intrusive path system, and rebuilding tees.

Read the full article: Restoring a Stanley Thompson Classic