Canadian Architects Review, Part 3: Ian Andrew

Back in 2008, Robert Thompson published a series of blog posts in which he reviewed and evaluated most of the top architects working in Canada at the time, found here. I absolutely loved reading these, so, I figured, it’s time to revisit the concept. My hope is to try to publish one or two of these a week for the next little while.

Ian Andrew

of Ian Andrew Golf Design


Number of Original Designs, according to his company’s website: 2

First Original Design: Laval-Sur-Le-Lac, Blue Course (2012)

Best Design: Laval-Sur-Le-Lac, Blue Course (20th-25th in Canada according to author; 33rd in Canada according to Beyond The Contour’s Top 100)

Worst Design: Maple Downs (30-35th in Canada according to author; 39th in Canada according to Beyond The Contour’s Top 100)

Strengths:

  • He is one of the true historians and preservers of the game and its roots in Canada, having touched a number of the country’s golden-age gems well before this recent wave of restorations and renovations.
  • He has, it can easily be argued, done more than anyone else to preserve Stanley Thompson’s legacy, especially, and is the foremost authority on his work. Mr. Andrew’s work at Highlands Links, probably the most depleted and mal-treated of the Thompson originals, is particularly noteworthy, considering the bureaucratic red-tape that comes along with it.
  • Unlike a few of his Canadian contemporaries, particularly in the 1990s and 2000s, when necessary, his restorative work displays an ideal blend of sympathy, humbleness, and slight of touch that redeems and reemphasizes the best features of the original designer, rather than overwhelm it under the marks and tracks of the restorer.
  • His original and more heavy-handed renovative efforts generally display textbook architectural concepts. In particular, his use of angles and bunker placement are excellent. I’m also quite fond of how often he incorporates kicker and feeder slopes, which make his courses very playable for all levels.
  • Despite all of his renovative and restorative work, he has still managed to create for himself a distinct identity, separate from that of his forefathers and contemporaries (in other words, an Ian Andrew course is immediately distinguishable when it wants to be).
  • His work at Laval-Sur-Le-Lac, in collaboration with Mike Weir, is the best full-scale transformation in Canada, the kind we need more of.
  • He has remained steadily busy, even during the recession period at the end of the aughts, and has expanded his business to the U.S.A.
  • He has also distinguished himself as an author, producing one of the most interesting catalogues of any recent architect, both in print and in his blogs.

Weaknesses:

  • A relatively small fingerprints of original work.
  • Despite a home-run start, his collaboration with Mike Weir disintegrated. One wonders how many original projects their planned third course at Predator Ridge, which looks excellent based on the sketches, would have led to.
  • At both Laval-Sur-Le-Lac and Maple Downs, he somewhat annoyingly over uses par 3s that require a right-to-left ball flight (by my estimation, 7 of the 8 combined par 3s overtly call for this shot from the tee). It’s okay to not build a redan-ish par 3, every once in a while.
  • His original designs, and their visuals, are a little stiff and linear, lacking the occasional oddness and sense of unexpected surprise that are common to the best courses (in other words, his work is almost too textbook after a while, missing those “oh I didn’t expect or haven’t seen that before” elements).

Original Work Grade: A

Restorative/Renovative Work Grade: A

Overall Grade: A (Original Grades from Robert Thompson: A for renovative work; B for collaborative work).

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