2016 in Pictures – Calgary Golf and Country Club

In an effort to step up my photo game this year I am pleased to share 10 of my favourite golf images over the past year.  With a healthy layer of snow already in southern Ontario I hope this brings back good memories from your 2016 golf season and stokes the fire of anticipation for 2017!

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The Story: There are so many stories, really.  The incredible privilege to play Calgary GCC, a private club, and one of the country’s top courses is special in itself.  But the real treat was connecting with Josh Strukoff whom many may know for his outstanding blog Golf Is Mental.  An exceptional golfer and even better guy, Josh was kind enough to host me at his club on a late May afternoon.  To me, Josh is one of the best blog photographers and borrowing my iPhone he was able to capture this artistic shot of me teeing off on the 15th hole.  Calgary GCC is a venerable course that is a stern yet fair test.  This picture captures so much that I love about this course; while in the heart of the city there is a feel of isolation and tranquility.  The elevation changes are surprising throughout this course as evident with the Elbow River set far below.  The chance to meet someone whom I consider a friend and has done much to support my efforts as a golf blogger was one of the true highlights of my 2016 golf season.  Thanks to Josh and his wife Beth for hosting me for a most memorable afternoon.

Click here for my course review of Calgary Golf and Country Club.

 

 

 

 

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Calgary Golf and Country Club – Unique in Design, Beauty and Challenge

Calgary Golf and Country Club – Unique in Design, Challenge and Beauty.

http://www.cgandcc.com/home.aspx

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Standing on the first tee looking up.  A great opening hole.

The website shares a fascinating and detailed account of the history of this beautiful course.   A top 25 course in the country, as ranked by Canadian Golf Magazine, it is a course on a piece of property that will dazzle, amaze and challenge golfers.  A private course, I was privileged to be extended an invitation from a fellow golf writer based in Calgary.  The Golf is Mental blog was identified as one of the top 50 golf blogs to follow by the Scottsdale Golf Blog.  Calgary GCC, located mere minutes south of downtown, offers solitude and privacy from the city which creates a sense of tranquility.  And this is good because the challenges of this unique design will demand your attention.

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The beautiful and tight third hole reflects the challenge for golfers.

The course was designed in by Willie Park, Jr., a Scottish designer who in 1922 completed the development of the course consistent with today’s design.  The course was originally established in 1897.  Adjacent to the Elbow River, a tributary of the Bow River which runs through Calgary, the course utilizes elevation change exceptionally well throughout the course.  An exclamation point to this is seen at the very first hole, a sharp uphill par 5.  Don’t let the yardage from the tips fool you, this hole will require attention with approach shots playing significantly uphill.  And the slope and subtlety of the green doesn’t give players making a successful approach space to exhale.  Greens run true, consistent and quick.  Factor in slope on the greens and hitting the right part of the green is as important as hitting the green itself.  This is not to imply gimmicky or unfair, this is not the case.  But putting on greens will require a little more attention than your local muni; they were some of the quickest I had experienced in some time.

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Par 3 8th hole.  Great diversity of par 3 length and design.

The opening hole is part of a stout opening three holes.  The par 3 second hole is downhill and not overly long, but seemingly any miss will make for a challenging up and down.  Then the par 4 3rd hole, the number one handicap hole on the course is almost 440 yards and demands accuracy off the tee.  Many of the holes are framed exceptionally well off the tee by trees on either side.  Add to the overall tranquility of the course and players will feel they have the course to themselves on the busiest of days.  A par 35 opening nine only measures over 3200 yards off the tee.  Good ball striking is rewarded but subtle elevation change and gusting winds on the day I played made club selection challenging.

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The 9th tee.

The course shows great diversity in design with the terrain well utilized to create strong vistas off the tee on many holes.  I was pleased there was so few blind shots throughout the course.  Park was intelligent in drawing on the natural terrain.  The back nine was my favourite of the two nines, but the dramatic effect of the course really took effect on hole 9, a significant downhill par 4 which is only 353 yards.  And while the tee shot is fun and relatively easy, the approach shot is well guarded with a pond front left and very little space behind the hole.  Accuracy is at a premium here.  Tee decks help, as they are extremely well maintained.

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After a tough nine holes this was a true oasis.  A great halfway house right alongside the river.

A halfway house which may be one of the best in golf at a quiet bend in the river awaits players to refresh, regroup and prepare for the challenge and enjoyment of the back nine.  A unique feature I have never seen is an elevator tram which will take players up from the 10th green to the 11th tee.  My legs appreciated the rest and the view from the top, especially from the back of the 11th tee deck is spectacular over the Glenmore Dam and Reservoir and the river valley below.

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Local knowledge extends beyond playing the course.  An incredibly scenic shot of me teeing off by my host and Calgary GCC member Josh Strukoff.

The back nine is unique in that is closes with par 5-5-4-3-4-3 and 4.  The par 5’s are stout with fairway bunkering that demands length and accuracy.  Greens are well protected, making par a good score.  To me, the closing four holes cap off the beauty and challenge of this course.  Par 3’s at Calgary are some of the most beautiful and difficult I have faced on a course anywhere in the country.  The 18th, like the 9th, is a significant downhill par 4.  But much longer and players can determine how aggressive a line they want to take.  For visitors it is a time to take a picture and reflect on a wonderful golfing experience.  If you’re in competition, it is time to breathe and focus on a landing spot.

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The view off the tee on 18.  Stunning…and a little intimidating.

I spent my time at Calgary GCC captivated by Park’s masterful design, challenged by the layout (and also not having my A game with me) but appreciative of the invitation and the opportunity to experience one of the country’s truly iconic, unique and beautiful courses.  Pristine in conditioning, and with staff who are friendly and helpful, the experience at Calgary GCC is one which will remain a highlight golfing experience in 2016.

Aura – 9 out of 10 – Chances to play private courses, and a top course in Canada at that, provides a level of anticipation and excitement I don’t experience with regularity.

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The course provides some incredible scenery throughout the round.

Value (cost / experience) – As a private course it is not possible to provide a rank here.  As is the case with many great private courses, value is a wonderful combination of access, belonging and enjoyment.  I suspect my friend who I was able to tee it up with would place value extremely high on all accounts listed, and rightfully so.

Course Condition (fairways/greens, layout) – As to be expected, the conditioning was flawless.  But this represents a commitment from the superintendent all the way down to each member who respect and care for the course.  – 9 out of 10

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My first elevator ride on a golf course.  Clever and very practical.

Overall Experience (how did the round make me feel; would I return) – Return?  In a heartbeat.  It’s a course which is worthy of its stature and ranking across Canada.  One thing I really appreciated was how as a guest I was made to feel so welcome.  The assistant pro, staff, and my friend and his family treated me like I had been a member for many years.  You can chalk it up to western hospitality but I think there is a pedigree of quality at CGCC which starts with the people. – 9.5 out of 10

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Golf Is Mental and 36aday – aka – Josh and Mike.  After the round we had a chance to visit that amazing patio and reflect on an amazing afternoon of golf.

Highlight (what is great about the course) – There any many holes which are truly unique.  Park was intelligent in his design of this course.  The course built up in both beauty and challenge and culminated with a fantastic back nine with a closing stretch of holes which players can play over and over again and never tire of.

Happy 2nd Birthday, 36aday

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After today I will be entering my third year as a golf writer.  This blog has taken off beyond my expectations and I’m sincerely grateful for the support received by other bloggers, golf journalists, family and friends – both old and new.  This blog has also allowed me a chance to connect with other golfers from across Canada, the USA and all around the world.

I’ve been fortunate to join the Golf Journalists Association of Canada and feature my course reviews on Canadian Golf Magazine, a national online golf publication.  I’ve been able to travel and play great courses all across the country.   I participate regularly on #GolfChat – a weekly Twitter Chat about golf.  I was pleased, and a little surprised, to be awarded the 2015 Blog of the Year on GolfChat.  I’ve also created new friendships with other golf enthusiasts and writers.  I started a Facebook page this year as another means of engagement beyond Twitter and the blog.  I’ve experienced my first viral post which – my review of the impressive Stanhope golf course – shared on over 50 different Facebook pages.  Of course, the Stanhope review was part of an amazing bucket list golf experience in 2015.  Playing 10 of the top courses in Prince Edward Island is something I’ll never forget and hope I can experience again.

2016 holds a lot of promise with planned trips to BC, AB and NB (all of which will have golf involved and allow me to cross more courses off my bucket list).  I am excited about the prospects of teeing it up with Josh Strukoff, writer of the very informative golf blog, Golf Is Mental.  I have plans to re-brand; creating a custom logo to help advance the blog and my golf writing efforts.

To all of you who read and support my writing, thank you.  I’m going to celebrate this achievement with a cold pint of my favourite golf beer, TripleBogey.   In the meantime, keep it in the short grass and here’s to a great 2016.

In friendship, Mike
36aday.net

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Another highlight from the past year, my first ace.

 

After Further Review: Let Them Play Golf Alone

After Further Review: Let Them Play Golf Alone

This is what I have found to be the best write-up and critique of Golf Canada’s policy decision regarding handicap scoring for rounds played as a single. Intelligent. Insightful. Well written.

Golf Is Mental

If you play golf, and nobody is there to see it, did it still happen?

November 23, 2015 was a day of reckoning for many golfers who play under the United States Golf Association (USGA). This was the day they announced handicap rule changes that would be implemented for the 2016 season.

The change that caught most of the attention was the one regarding unaccompanied rounds. For the 2016 season, a player cannot go out by themselves to play 18 holes under the Rules of Golf, and post that score to their handicap. Social media exploded, mostly with criticism.

November 24, 2015 was a day golfers in Canada rejoiced. With a series of two tweets, Golf Canada announced they would not be adopting Section 5-1e of the USGA Handicap System Manual, and that scores made while playing alone will continue to count for handicap purposes.

Golf Canada received a lot of praise for this…

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