Phil Mickelson & Co. aiming to bring Canadian Open to Calgary – Calgary Sun

A test for the pros but playable for the Joes …

Everybody expected Phil Mickelson to say that part.

What’s most exciting for folks in Calgary is that the superstar course designer isn’t just thinking about the hacks and heroes as he maps out the holes at Mickelson National Golf Club — he’s thinking of the fans, too.

“The details of this project are ultimately what will make it special and make it unique,” Mickelson said Thursday, meeting the media to chat about his project in the Springbank area. “We were given a blank canvas, and as long as we put in the thought and the effort to come at it from all different angles, I think we’re going to create something that will be enjoyable for the average guy to play, challenging for the tour player and, in addition to that, an enjoyable experience for the spectators that come out and watch …

“From a viewing standpoint, we anticipate this is going to hold a Canadian Open. We anticipate it will hold some major golf events.”

Mickelson has teed it up in hundreds of PGA Tour tourneys.

He’s won dozens of ’em, including five major championships.

So if anybody understands what course requirements might be necessary to — eventually, finally — bring an instalment of the RBC Canadian Open to Calgary, it’s ‘Lefty.’

That’s part of the end-game at Mickelson National Golf Club — a private hangout that will likely be ready for a soft opening in 2017 and will surely become the crown jewel of the Windmill Golf Group’s collection of courses — but the World Golf Hall-of-Famer is also adamant a tour card or single-digit handicap won’t be a requirement to navigate his design, stressing there will be opportunities to run the ball up onto every green.

“A great golf course is Augusta National — it’s very challenging for a good player, the greens are very difficult,” Mickelson said. “But the average guy always finds his ball, never loses his ball, always has a shot, always has a chance to putt the ball onto the green … And every player that I’ve played with, from all different levels, enjoys playing Augusta National.

“I loved playing Whistling Straits at the PGA Championship,” Mickelson continued. “I really enjoyed it. I think it’s a wonderful site for a major championship. However, every player that plays that golf course is not able to finish all 18 holes. They get down to a pit that is so deep that they can’t get out of it, and they end up taking four or five swipes, and they pick up and go to the next hole.

“I don’t want players to have that experience. I want them to have more of the Augusta experience.”

The folks in Augusta, Ga., are spoiled — the historic club in their city is the permanent site of The Masters, the most anticipated event on the PGA Tour calendar.

Fans in Calgary aren’t pleading for a major or even an annual stop. They’re simply asking for an opportunity to see the best golfers on the globe digging divots in this thin mountain air.

Lefty wants that, too.

More important, the 45-year-old superstar thinks he and his team can deliver it.

“I think it’s one of the greatest honours from a design standpoint, to have a major golf event held at your golf course,” Mickelson said. “I think that would be a huge honour for us. It would be a validation of what it was we were trying to create so many years prior to the actual event — right now, in the designing and planning and construction phases. So it would be a great honour. We don’t take it for granted. It’s not easy. There’s a lot of great courses and opportunities for it.

“But we think when we get done, again, by putting a little thought, a little bit of effort and a little bit of knowledge and experience into this, we think we’re going to have probably the best site to do that, and ultimately, we will be picked for it.”

Original article written by Wes Gilbertson of the Calgary Sun can be found here.

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