Thursday, February 02, 2006

Angus Glen overhaul


Yesterday I was up at Angus Glen speaking with the club's omnipresent Kevin Thistle and had a chance to tour the work being done on the Doug Carrick/Jay Morrish designed North Course.
Interestingly, many, including the RCGA, have painted the changes, which are being overseen by Davis Love III's design firm, as being insignificant. The alterations are being made to prep the course for the 2007 Canadian Open.
Critics of the course have noted PGA Tour players apparently have something against it because of the Skins Game held their a half decade ago. I doubt PGA Tour players have memories that long (and it was only four players anyway), since I recall asking Stuart Appleby about playing in the British Open and he couldn't remember where they had played the year previous.
Anyway, the dozers have been brought out and there are major changes, in the realm of $2-million worth, currently underway at the North Course.

Among the alterations are:

#1 -- previously a par five with an unusual tee shot, the fairway has been leveled slightly and the bunker that played about 200 yards off the tee on the left side of the fairway has been removed and pushed into the landing area about 280 yards off the tee. A new bunker complex on the right side of the fairway has been constructed near the green.

#2 -- perhaps the hole with the most significant changes, this was previously a par four with a large fairway bunker on the left to protect the carry angle. Balls then rolled down a hill -- meaning one could get quite close to the green. Now the fairway has been shifted 40 yards left and the bunker removed. Players will now play to a plateau and then hit their downhill approach to the green.

#3 -- new tees push this hole over 400 yards and the inside bunker has been brought further into play.

I didn't get a chance to see 5 through 8, though I understand there are changes to five and the fairway bunker on six is being removed. Eight is remaining the same, and there will be some additional bunker work on nine.

#10 -- new tee deck constructed on the left of existing tees and fairway being narrowed.

#12 -- the other hole with the most significant alterations. The tee shot has been moved forty or fifty yards left, bringing the pond (which has been expanded) into play. The eyelash bunker on the right off the old tee has been removed.

#15 -- new tees have been added and the left side of the fairway has been regrassed with blue grass. New bunker complexes have been added which effectively split the fairway.

The only other discussion is whether they will use 17-18 of the North Course or use the holes on the South, which provide a better vantage point for spectators.

Overall impression: The changes look positive -- at least for one tournament that will be held over one week next year. $2-million seems like a lot to spend, but I'm sure Angus Glen's management is aware that the Carrick/Morrish design has not been that well received and was in need on some alterations. The course was constructed when Carrick was infatuated with wide fairways, and many of the changes are designed to add some strategy to the tee shots. Carrick has always focused on carry angles, and several of the alterations are designed to accentuate those angles, many of which were rendered moot by the width of the landing area. With that in mind, the changes look positive.

The $10-million question: Will the changes draw a better field. I'm sure the RCGA and PGA Tour are hoping so -- otherwise why pay all of this money and bring Davis Love III into the equation? But I doubt they will bring more than one or two additional players to Canada next July.

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