Last year, while playing in Thunder Bay, I was paired with a fellow [photopress:alanmclean1.jpg,full,alignright]named Alan McLean. I didn’t know it at the time, but Alan was a long hitter on the Nationwide Tour. He has one of those majestic ball flights where the ball takes off like a rocket before falling to earth like a butterfly with sore feet. Anyway, we had a great time playing and kept in touch afterwards.
This year, having lost his Nationwide Tour card, Alan moved to London, Ont. with his wife and young daughter, attempting to find some sponsorship money and play his way forward. It is a tough go, especially for someone who has only been in Canada for less than 10 years and didn’t make those connections so many of this country’s top amatuers make. He’s in Montreal this week, trying to pay his bills and earn some cash for Q-School.
[photopress:alanmclean2.jpg,full,alignleft]As we had spoken about having Alan come to Toronto to play a few times, he made the decision to come down on Thursday for a round at The National, followed by 36 at Eagles Nest and Bond Head the following day (with friend and golf architect Ian Andrew, and Alan’s good friend Rick).
Needless to say, his game appeared pretty sharp, shooting a strong round at the National before moving to Eagles Nest. I’d joked with Alan that a guy who regularly hits it 300 yards off the tee should have no problem with Eagles Nest from the tips — a course that measures nearly 7,500 yards. Despite an early morning rain, that turned out to be exactly the case.
With a birdie out of the gate on the first hole, Alan casually took Eagles Nest apart. By the back nine he was firing on all cylinders, and made a nice recovery on 15, lipped out an eagle on 16, made birdie on 17 and par on 18 to shoot 68 — a new course record at Eagles Nest. It was as fine a round as I’ve ever personally witnessed.
So what does this all mean? Nothing really. I’m sure Alan has a few course records. What I found remarkable was the fact that he could struggle in a tournament on far easier courses and then, with tactical skill, take Eagles Nest apart — only truly facing any challenges a couple of times during his round.
It just goes to show the talent of some players and the degree of difficulty in actually making a living playing this crazy game….