Banff enviro battle; South Africa's Alan McLean in London, Ont.

Banff Springs GC

So Parks Canada approved the skins game in Banff yesterday, which left me shaking my head. Why hadn’t IMG, Telus and Fairmont, which controls the Banff Springs, thought about this sooner. Apparently because it was never an issue until an environmental group raised concerns. Their questions seem straight ahead: What would happen if an animal ran out onto a hole where golf was being played? (answer: play will stop and the animal will be moved).

Anyway, despite a long history of running the course within the park, and the fact that Banff Spring GC has been run in an environmentally sound way for some time, the enviromentalists are still not happy.

Here is some quotes from today’s Calgary Herald:

Dave Poulton, executive director of the local chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, is disappointed with Parks Canada’s decision.

“It indicates a new level of laxity in Parks Canada of what’s appropriate and not appropriate in a national park,” he said.

“We have to treat our national parks as more than recreation centres and tourist destinations.”

Yeah, right. And a golf tournament that draws a few thousand fans is going to do more damage than the 3 million that travel through Banff National Park each year.

John Huggan on details Peter de Savary’s Bahamas golf playground, Abaco. Worth a read, especially since this course, designed by Donald Steel, is becoming the haunt of numerous PGA Tour pros.

On Sunday I’m playing River Bend in London with my friAlan McLeanend and tour pro, Alan McLean.I wrote about Alan last year when he was struggling on the Nationwide Tour and living in Thunder Bay with his wife and young daughter. Though he won an event in his native South Africa earlier this year, he doesn’t have status on the Nationwide Tour. Instead he’s played a handful of Canadian Tour events and plans to Monday qualify for the Nationwide Tour. He’s also settled in my former hometown of London, Ont., and is sizing up which club he will be affiliated with. Regardless, it is always fun to play with someone who hits the ball on average more than 300 yards.

Late Friday note: Neither Stephen Ames, Jon Mills nor Ian Leggatt made the cut this week in New Orleans. Mills is a bit perplexing. He hits the ball a ton, averaging nearly 300 yards, but doesn’t hit many fairways (55%) and his putting is a woeful 179th. He’s going to have to pick it up if he expects to retain his tour card.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

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