First Look: Doug Carrick & Thomas McBroom’s Ocean Course at Fox Harb’r Resort

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The start of Fox Harb’r’s second course is well underway, as per the story posted by Rick Young in SCOREGolf. A weird collaboration indeed, although not the first time: together, Doug Carrick and Thomas McBroom both did the master plan for Legends of the Niagara, however, they individually built their own golf courses. Fox Harb’r’s so-called “Ocean Course” will mark the long-time competitors first collaboration together in which they work on the micro and macro features alike.

This is not a case of one architect building the front nine and the other the back. Rather, Carrick and McBroom are doing every green site, bunker and tee box together.

Rick Young, SCOREGolf

The project began in September 2022, with the SCOREGolf article indicating a four phase, four year timeline. If all goes to plan, the Ocean course will be made up of the new nine holes (below) plus the original back nine, as well as the current front nine with a new inland nine holes. By the time 2027 rolls around, the resort will have 36 holes from Doug Carrick & Thomas McBroom: the “ocean”, and the “vineyard”, made up of the current front nine and a new nine holes inland.

Graham Cooke’s Fox Harb’r will be cut up, but in its current state, the golf course has fallen out of taste and flavour, failing to make Beyond The Contour‘s Top 100 or Near Misses. The highest placement is 74th on Top 100 Golf Courses. I reserve judgment for when I play golf courses, but having an oceanside golf course never really interest me is either a massive fault on my part, or a misstep on Graham Cooke’s part.

Anyways, the first look at Carrick & McBroom’s routing is below:

If I’m reading the scorecard correctly, it should look something like this (though it is blurry):

  1. 568 yards, par 5
  2. 386 (?) yards, par 4
  3. 430 (?) yards, par 4
  4. 474 yards, par 4
  5. 247 yards, par 3
  6. 425 (?) yards, par 4
  7. 178 yards, par 3
  8. 541 yards, par 5
  9. 462 yards, par 4

Bleh. Using a par 5 oceanside seems like a waste of space, but there are some good things going on here. The use of centreline bunkers is a rarity for both architects, but they pop up here on the layup on 1, approaching the green on 2, 3, 4, 6, and 8. Carrick’s typical bunker philosophy is ever-present on the tee shot on 1 and 9, with bunkers cutting into the fairway asking the golfer for the heroic carry to get the better angle into the green. Let’s hope the green matches that strategy.

Of particular interest for me, the par 4, 2nd looks fun. The graphic above suggests a rumpled fairway, with a green guarded by a middle right bunker, back left, and front. I imagine the bunkers short will begin to blend in and hide the false front in unison with the front bunker. Also, the 247 yard par 3, 5th seems to suggest a redan—let’s hope they do it properly and not just a bland long par 3 with an ocean background. Bring on the Instagram photos from the par 3, 7th tee!

We all agree the vision had to change. There won’t be any big flash-up bunkers or anything. Doug and I are going for a lower-profile, kind of more rumpled look, with shorter and smoother grass around the bunker edges. It will be much different than Cabot. Visually and playability wise, we’re going for a look that’s a little more elegant and refined

Thomas McBroom in the SCOREGolf article

Because Cabot, Bandon Dunes, Sand Valley, Streamsong, Barnbougle, and more are so yesterday, and the resorts of yesteryear are back in style! Having an oceanside course refer to “more elegant and refined” does not exactly inspire confidence, especially while dunking on the 1st and 4th best golf courses in Canada, and clearly Canada’s most popular golf resort. In the article, Rick Young writes that they plan to “[change] the overall style of the original Graham Cooke golf course from more of a parkland-links course to a pure links like Muirfield in Scotland”, although that hardly aligns with a more “refined” look. Already some mixed messaging on the vision. Is it a Links, or is it a North American golf course, and what is a parkland-links? That makes no sense. “Refined” and Links generally do not go together, but perhaps I caught a Pacific Dunes or Cabot Links on the wrong day.

If there is one thing that gives me hope for a high ceiling, McBroom and Carrick might balance each other out nicely. If Doug has a true fault, his laissez-faire attitude towards building greens really hurts his strategies. Often, Carrick’s tee-to-green concepts make sense on paper (almost to the point that his courses are robotic at times), but the severity of the greens rarely match the width and the question asked off the tee. McBroom, on the other hand, is a rather rambunctious architect. At places like Tobiano and Crowbush, the features are so severe that it becomes easy to wonder if anyone worse than 10 index can play at either course. Likewise for various moments in Rocky Crest, Tower Ranch, and so forth. Together, they actually balance each other out nicely, and unless they fight over whose name should go first (my guess is Carrick’s will go first if his logo is lower left), I could see this generally being considered a successful nine holes.

I will say that it does look like a nice property with potential if done properly, and I hope it goes well. I would love nothing more than another reason to go to Nova Scotia, especially to golf!

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  • Andrew Harvie

    Based in Toronto, but having lived in Alberta, British Columbia, Montana, Arizona, and Texas, I have been lucky enough to see over 400 golf courses and counting!

2 thoughts on “First Look: Doug Carrick & Thomas McBroom’s Ocean Course at Fox Harb’r Resort

  1. There should be a rule that every golf course publishes their score card on their web site. You can see the course on Google Maps and find the hole lengths on web sites like Bluegolf, but the actual course web sites often either have little course info or, like Fox Harb’r publish the images of the holes out of the course guide book, which really don’t give you a feel for the course. The actual score card would be so simple to publish and be really helpful for people who have not played a course to get a better idea of what the course is lilke and if we’d want to play it..

  2. This course was very disappointing given its location/potential. I am glad the tennis courts and par 3 course are being used for better purposes (holes 8/9). I always wondered why the 18th didn’t use that land. The existing holes will also require a significant facelift. I assume Fox Harb’r is looking to position itself as a resort alternative to Cabot. It will be a struggle to reach that level.

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