It’s been 16 years since Hall of Fame designer Doug Carrick laid out Bigwin Island in Muskoka and he’s now returned to the highly ranked club in order to make improvements and complete an extensive overhaul of its bunkers.
“This is what it’s really all about”
Motioning toward the impressive views over Lake of Bays from Bigwin’s spectacular 6th hole Doug Carrick says, “This is what it’s really all about. It’s unlike any other golf course that I know around the world.”
“When the course was originally built there was a lot of emphasis on creating drama,” continued Carrick. “And the bunkers here at Bigwin were certainly very dramatic. So it made playing the shot out of the bunker very difficult for a lot of people.”
The key to fixing the obstacle, says Carrick, was to “balance out” the challenge for expert and skilled players with the needs of those who are new to the game, or at least a little more relaxed about it.
Working closely with staff as well as taking into account feedback from members – Bigwin has a well earned reputation as one of the country’s leading member focused courses – Carrick also took the opportunity to improve the overall enjoyability and playability of the course. Citing the signature 4th hole as an example, he says the redesign saw the elimination of a bunker on the left side of the green that previously made it difficult to stop the ball from that location.
“We moved bunkers in closer to the green and raised the elevation,” says Carrick. “There will be a lot less frustration now when you hit an errant shot. The penalty or punishment won’t be as severe.”
The bunker renovation was completed over the spring with the course opened and fully functioning in time for the 2017 summer season.
According to David Smith, Vice-President and Managing Director of Bigwin Island Golf Club, some 25% of the total bunker area was removed during the renovation program with numerous remaining green side bunkers reduced in size and repositioned to bring them closer to the greens. This has helped eliminate those long and often difficult bunker shots that are so challenging to the vast majority of golfers while providing options for more difficult pin placements when required.
The $1.5 million project also saw bunker floors raised to ensure improved visibility of the greens, along with new drainage, liners and bunker sand. Along with the bunker changes fairway drainage was improved in some key areas and two score damaging areas were eliminated.
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