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Banff in its original order; changes at IMG

The most intriguing facet of the Telus Skins Game at Banff this week isn’t the fact that Greg Norman can shoot par without practicing or that John Daly thinks he plays better when he’s drunk. Nope. The best bit is that IMG, which runs the event thought it would be great if the course was played in its original order, with the first hole starting at the hotel, as it did before Fairmont added an awful clubhouse and started golfers part way through the front nine.

The first hole, with its remarkable tee shot over the Spray (or is it the Bow?) River, is one of the best in Canada, but has been relegated to the middle of the back nine on the current configuration. IMG Canada, the sports marketing agency that runs the event, reworked the concept this year to include five golfers and pay homage to the game’s past. That’s why Banff is being played in order. Let’s hope the concept proves attractive to the Fairmont folks, including the new pro at the course, Mike Harris (not the former Ontario premier), who replaced Doug Wood.

At the very least, why not allow people to play the course in order a few times a year, like the Old Course in St. Andrews does when it allows golfers to play it backwards? It would create a renewed buzz for the course. Oh, and how about a proper restoration?

If you are interested in Banff, check out Brian Kendall’s nice travel story on it that appeared in the Globe a few weeks back.

IMG is also the focus of a story in the Globe and Mail. The piece spends most of the time talking about how the agency is being altered in Canada under new managing director Brad Pelletier. But the Skins Game gets referenced in the final graph:

An example of how the company is deploying its player and media assets and marketing smarts is on display in its Telus Skins Game, which wraps up today in Banff, Alta. This tired, 13-year-old event was revamped, equipping five stars of different ages with old hickory-shafted clubs and historic garb. The result has been sellout crowds and sold-out sponsorships.

“The old idea of putting four guys on the air and letting them play is dead,” Pelletier said. “There has to be a story that’s never been done.”

Wonder what that means? What has IMG dreamed up for the event? I must admit I find the whole affair terribly dull and rarely watch it. Might help if they had someone other than John Daly in the field. Calgary businessman Reg Chisholm paid $51K to caddie for Daly. But you’ve got to think he could have spent a lot less to caddie for a drunk on almost any high-end public course in the Toronto area on almost any given weekend.

The IMG story can be found here.

Oh, and Juli Inkster has become one of the first high profile players to pull out of this week’s CN Canadian Women’s Open. Inkster’s agent said she was exhausted. Word has it that Se Ri Pak might also not make the event.

Oh, and if you are in the London area, you might want to consider checking out Tarandowah, if only to see what the course could become. Nine holes are open and in questionable shape, and there’s no sand in the bunkers. Cost is $15. That said, I drove around the course on Sunday and thought it looks like Southern Ontario’s answer to Osprey Valley’s Heathlands once it is ready to go. Some intriguing holes and Martin Hawtree’s fairway contours are outstanding.

G4G reader, Steve, had this to say about Tarandowah:

I got out and played 9 holes last week. I have to say although the course needs to mature, I was very impressed. It is still in its infancy, but the layout of the back nine is terrific. It is a deadly course from the tips as the par 4’s are very long as well as the par 3’s. If you are just playing for enjoyment move up, but if you want a challenge you can’t find at other courses in the area play from the back. In time this will be a great course as Dan Lavis has shown he is a great Superintendent. The prices for memberships are very attractive and they will even freeze this price until 2009. The only negative was that I hit a rock on the 17th which was under the turf. If you live nearby check it out for yourself, I predict this to be one of the best public courses in the area in the next 5 years.

Note: I’m in London for the remainder of the week at the LPGA event and will blog from there. That said, I’m planning course reviews on Oslerbrook, Ambassador Golf and River Bend upon my return. Oh, and did I mention that my House of Kangaroo golf shoes are the most comfortable and light shoes I’ve ever worn? I’ve got lots more to say on that subject as well.

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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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  • Robert I am with you on the shoes. I picked up a pair a few weeks back and could not be happier. The glove I got with the shoes has also been amazing.

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