Turf & Rec

Stanley Thompson authority joins MBTW, specializing in environmentally-sensitive work

October 6, 2011  By  Mike Jiggens

MBTW Watchorn is expanding its golf division with the addition of golf course architect and PGA of Canada member Kirsten Brown.

An expert in the heritage of Stanley Thompson golf courses, Brown brings a wealth of knowledge about the game, its history and its courses to MBTW.brownweb

Brown graduated from the professional golf management program at Humber College in 2003. From there she turned her studies to the European Institute of Golf Course Architecture where she spent two years in a post-graduate diploma program in golf course architecture.

Over the course of her time overseas, Brown travelled through England, Scotland and Europe refining her skills in golf course architecture and developing a great feel for the roots of the game.
She graduated from the two-year program in the spring of 2007.


“It was wonderful traveling to and experiencing many of the world’s greatest courses and studying the architects behind them,” said Brown, whose passion for golf course architecture and growing desire to ensure that she could create environmentally-sensitive designs led her to a three-year masters’ degree in landscape architecture at the University of Guelph. “But the more you learn, the more you want to know.”

Throughout her master’s degree, Brown worked as a research assistant to Prof. Cecelia Paine and in conjunction with the Stanley Thompson Society on the Stanley Thompson Provenance project. This research endeavoured to develop a definitive list of courses in Canada designed by Thompson, resulting in a catalogue that confirmed and detailed the extent of his involvement in more than 120 courses based on various levels of evidence.


Brown used the Provenance research project as a foundation for her subsequent thesis work which sought to develop guidelines for conserving the significance and integrity of Stanley Thompson golf courses. She graduated from the Guelph program in September 2010.

She also has considerable practical experience, having worked for golf course architect Alan Chud from November 2000 to September 2007, on projects including new course development for Rebel Creek Golf Club and Coppinwood, as well as a five-year master plan for renovations at Oakdale G&CC.

“I have really enjoyed looking at heritage golf courses, especially those from the golden era (1910 to 1930), and we’re hoping to do more work with those clubs,” said Brown, who also enjoys the challenges of working with and developing environmentally-sensitive projects.

In her first week at MBTW, which started Aug. 2, Brown added input on four MBTW Watchorn golf projects. She is also a player, having been a Class ‘A’ member of the PGA of Canada since 2005.

“Kirsten brings a wealth of knowledge and talent to the table. We’re delighted to have her on staff,” says golf course architect and MBTW Watchorn partner Kevin Holmes. “It’s a competitive environment out there, and there is still work that needs to be done, it’s just not happening in large-scale new course development like we saw in the past. We need to be well-positioned to look after our local market across Ontario, as well as looking for work nationally and, hopefully, internationally.”

Holmes and his staff, which includes associate Jon Joyce, are currently working on a variety of golf course projects including;

• The Links at New England Village in Wasaga Beach
• Pickering Golf Club, (formerly Seaton GC), which will reopen in 2012 as a nine-hole facility
• The future expansion of Riverstone G&CC to 18 holes in Brampton
• Ongoing renovations to Northridge GC in Brantford
• Final stages of planning for the Country Club Estates of Wellington developed by the Kaitlin Group—a 350-acre golf course community in Prince Edward County south of Belleville.

In what Holmes has called, “the largest green he’s ever designed,” that being BMO Field for Toronto FC, MBTW Watchorn is now working on several new fields for owners Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.

Under Joyce’s leadership, MBTW Watchorn is in the process of designing and overseeing construction of TFC’s new 15-acre, centralized Academy facility at Downsview Park. Along with the existing two artificial soccer fields, a natural grass soccer field and multi-use field with track, the new part of the development will include:

• A replica of the natural turf BMO field including the Sub-Air system that’s used for Augusta National’s greens
• Two additional natural turf soccer fields—one using the Sub-Air system
• One synthetic turf field that will be enclosed by a dome in the winter months
• Of note, the synthetic turf field is one of the first in Canada to feature a state-of-the-art organic infill consisting of coconut and cork.

Joyce says the facility should be operational by the summer of 2012.

Since 1998, Holmes has been the lead golf course architect at MBTW Watchorn, a multi-disciplinary firm of landscape architects, urban designers and planners, and golf course architects that have provided professional consulting for 30-plus years.

Holmes and Joyce have teamed up on a number of golf course projects for MBTW/Watchorn including: Riverstone G&CC in Brampton, Island Springs Golf Resort on St. Joseph Island, King’s Bay G&CC in Seagrave, The Bridges at Tillsonburg, Carruther’s Creek Golf Centre in Ajax, Watson’s Glen GC in Pickering, Crimson Ridge GC in Sault Ste. Marie, Black Horse Golf & Country Resort near Kincardine, Fort Frances GC and RedCrest at Cardinal GC in Kettleby.

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