Back to the Future at Caledon Woods

By John Gordon

First published May 2003 in NewsLink, a ClubLink Corporation publication.

Caledon Woods, ClubLink's newest Silver Member Club, is scheduled to open May 29. If you're fortunate enough to play there that day, you might be convinced the date is May 29, 1953, not 2003.

Blame Paul Takahashi and Richard Wengle for your calendar confusion. Takahashi, the course architect, and Wengle, the clubhouse designer, have transformed the former 27-hole Bolton GC into a facility that looks like it has been ensconced for decades in this enclave northwest ofToronto.

With typical humility, Takahashi gives much of the credit for his inspiration to Mother Nature and some old-time architects. "The site had great landforms to begin with. It had the Humber River running through it and some wonderful trees."

For a design precedent, he looked at his favourite classic courses in Ontario – Thornhill, Summit, Toronto and Scarboro in the Toronto area, Cataraqui in Kingston, Hamilton, and Union near St. Thomas.

"They're all short by today's standard," he notes, and he transferred that length and attendant strategy to the par-71, 6,400-yard Caledon Woods.

"Those old architects were geniuses in presenting landforms so they became part of the strategy of the hole itself. Now when we play golf, we only read the greens, not the entire golf hole. But when you go to a great golf course like the ones I mentioned or many of the Scottish courses, you have to read every hole from tee to green. That's what I tried to do here. I think the result is a challenging course that's fun to play."

Scott Kirby, ClubLink's Executive Director of Golf Development, backs up Takahashi's assertions. "Caledon Woods is gorgeous, a fantastic piece of land that has great golf holes now. It would be a misnomer to call what Paul has done a renovation. It was a complete nuke job and he's done great work."

Kirby is equally complimentary about the updated Cape Cod clubhouse that, in typical Wengle fashion, "just oozes style."

Wengle's first ClubLink assignment was the impressive Grandview clubhouse and he has been entrusted with the building at Glencairn. Wengle, notes Kirby, is rapidly gaining an international reputation and Caledon Woods?

Members and guests will see why firsthand.

Cozy by modern measurements at just under 13,000 square feet, the clubhouse is adorned with gambrel (barn-style) dormers on three sides. Muted shades of grey and taupe mix with white for a soothing effect, one reinforced while watching the sun set over the river valley while relaxing on the porch that wraps around three sides.

"I think the toughest assignment in design is minimalism," said Kirby, noting Takahashi and Wengle. "That's when true talent really shines through. There's simplicity and elegance at Caledon Woods. It really fits the land."

John Gordon is a freelance golf writer and author based in Midland, Ontario.

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