11 August 2007

The Bell CanadianOpen

Beavers, Sasquatches and SkiDoo Suits. Championship

Nestled in the vast barren freezing tundra is a country called Canada where live a bevy of beaver loving brave Canadians who bear the beastly bleak temperatures to compete in a 5 million dollar Tiger-less Canadian Open.

Flashback 2 weeks

People witnessed Tiger sporting Gortex mitts during the British Open. Well, don't be shocked that if Tiger happened to come to The Canadian Open, that on the final round, if he didn't get frost bitten, to see him trading in his traditional red golf shirt for a bright red skidoo (snowmobile) suit to prevent hunters from mistaking him for aSASQUATCH or a SUMO.

Say What? NIKE!

I am allowed to say that because

I am Canadian.

This years Canadian Open was held on The North Course at Angus Glen in Markham, Ontario. Traditionally, The Canadian Open has been played at Glenn Abbey in Ontario and every 10 years at Royal Montreal, the first golf course in North America.
Recently, Angus Glen has taken some of the weight off these two famous courses. In 1957, Arthur Stollery, a mining investor, bought some farmland in Markham, Ontario to raise cattle and breed thoroughbred horses. The landscape resembled Scotlandfs rolling hills. In 1992, after many years of breeding winning thoroughbred horses, Arthur Stollery and his son, Gordon started to build the golf course. Fittingly, they named the course Angus Glen after the Angus Cattle that they had raised for many years. Unfortunately, Arthur Stollery passed away in 1994, one year before it opened. Gordon continued his fathers legacy by building a great community around the course. In fact, in 1996, Golf Digest awarded Angus Glen as best new golf course in Canada. In 2002,The South Course hosted The Canadian Open. Davis Love lll, led the renovations of the North Course in preparation for this years Open.

How hard is the Course?

First of all, the fairways are riddled with 2-4 foot high sod lined bunkers. Hey! Just like Carnoustie. Ahhh! The rough also has high grass to give you that Scottish Highlands feeling of guilt for hitting too far right or left. If you do manage to hit the fairway you are almost guaranteed a good lie. As for the greens, they are well irrigated and in great shape, although a little fast. Well, what great course doesn't have fast greens? And just if you were thinking... Yes! Each hole has five sets of tees for each type of player. And finally, if you are lucky, you may find some petrified cow droppings in the old paddock area of the exfarm course. In some countries they are considered to have homeopathic qualities, while in Canada they are considered a great substitute for a tennis ball in a street hockey game.

The History of the Canadian Open

Royal Montreal 1904
The first winner of the Canadian Open was John H Oke. But the question is: Who was the last Canadian to win the frigid cold Canadian Open? Drum roll please....

The answer is: Pat Fletcher 1954.

Recently, Mike Weir (Canadian) battled Vijay Singh for the 2004 title and almost won. That year a great Canadian golfer passed away. MOE NORMAN, the self proclaimed "747 of golf" played golf literally on the run. He had been compared to Ben Hogan and Lee Trevino as one of the best Ball Strikers of all time.

Moe's disheveled look and bumbling mumblings made him appear to be "The Rainman" of golf. His intense shyness kept him from making a great career as a PGA pro but he was a legend on the Canadian circuit. In 1971, he was leading the Quebec Open by a stroke and on the final hole he was the first player to land the par 5 in 2 . He noticed that none of the crowd acknowledged his great shot. He became agitated and ended up 4 putting and losing. The next day, at The Canadian Open practice round, held at Royal Montreal, a fan yelled out, "Hey Moe any more 4 putts?" Moe drove the ball on the 223 10th hole and watched it land on the green, turned to the mouthy fan and said, "I'm not putting today." All watched his ball roll into the hole for one of his 17 aces in his career.

(If you don't get it watch the movie)

In fact, Oscar winning screenwriter, Barry Morrow of Rainman fame was optioned by Warner Brothers to make a movie about Moe's life but the financing, recently, fell through.

My personal claim to fame at the Canadian Open was in 1980 at Royal Montreal when Bob Gilder won. I had the distinct honor of carrying the mini scoreboard for Bob Gilder and Jerry Pate. Bob was a pretty straight forward player but Pate had a confidence and a Je ne sais quoi that allured many women to to follow him around the course, much to my puerile, prurient, 16-year-old delight.

THE BEST EVER JOB at the 1980 Open

My, 14 year old tomboy, sister, Robyn, was assigned to be the caddie tent caretaker. Her job entailed giving towels out to caddies and serving water. Most of the caddies were very kind. She did, however have a run in with Lee Trevino's famed jumbo caddie, Herman Mitchell. On the first day, Robyn walked into the caddie tent with an air of confidence. Determined to make her presence felt and be considered cool, and knowing nothing about conditions in the U.S., cleared her throat and screamed out, "OK boys I am in charge here!" Herman Mitchell, who grew up in the South couldn't stand being called boy. The problem was Herman was the only caddie in the tent who didn't realize that Robyn was a naive Canadian girl. So the large angry man approached Robyn determined to teach her a lesson. "Listen little boy...." The other caddies started laughing.... Herman began to steam.... Robyn said in a sweet little girls tone. "Excuse me but I'm a girl." Herman was left speechless then broke out laughing with his other caddies. By the end of the tournament, Robyn had amassed a vast collection of signature golf balls by players such as Hubert Green, Tom Weiskopf, Chi Chi Rodrigez and of course Lee Trevino.

Two weeks ago, on a lazy 26 degree Celsius summer day, Jim Furyk, sporting a Tiger red shirt, won the Bell Canadian Open for the second year in a row. In honor of Moe, Jim aced the par 3 4th hole at The Angus Glen North Course in Markham, Ontario. What a clutch performance.

Contrary to popular belief, there were no sightings of beavers, Sasquatches or skidoo suits. Could it be that Canada is in the midst of a major global warming or is due recognition of being a great place to play golf?

Willy Badger, 11 August 2007

About Willy
Willy has been living in Japan for 12 years. He is a "Daidogei" comic juggler living in Gunma, Japan. In 2008, Willy's mission is to introduce golfers to the beautiful Hot Springs & Outdoor Activities of Gunma. Recently, Willy became director of Sports Management Worldwide Japan, an athlete management company and online education University with offices in America, India and the U.K.

Check out Willy's sports blog The Rising Score!
Gunma C.C.

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