Like Score editor Bob Weeks, I spent yesterday in PEI watching Mike Weir and Vijay Singh play an exhibition (and watching Weir lose, though that’s largely because Singh played so well), and then interviewing the Canadian lefthander for a magazine piece on Weir’s business dealings.
I find Weir less reticent with the media these days — and I think the karaoke commercial for Dynamic Mutual Funds has been one example of him coming out of his shell. He told me yesterday that the karaoke commercial is closer to the “real” Mike than the one most people see in the scrum coming off the 18th at the Canadian Open.
Certainly he was comfortable last night — he said he caught a second wind — hanging out with a glass of white wine in his hand and chatting for hours with those that remained in the bar at the hotel at Crowbush.
Toronto Star columnist Dave Feschuk took the time to rip into Stephen Ames over comments Ames made about Angus Glen last week. In a story titled “Teed-off Ames a Poor Ambassador for Canada,” Feschuk brought up the death of Angus Glen super Ernie Amsler and connected it to Ames — a low blow if I’ve seen one:
The mammoth Canadian flag that overlooks Angus Glen Golf Course was flying at half mast all weekend in remembrance of the course’s longtime superintendent, Ernie Amsler, who died on Tuesday at age 66.
The reminder didn’t stop the top Canadian in the field, Stephen Ames, from repeatedly deriding the track Amsler helped build. Asked what the Royal Canadian Golf Association might do to improve the Canadian Open’s lot, Ames classily suggested the selection of “proper golf courses.”
“(Angus Glen) wasn’t designed for a major championship or a national championship altogether,” he said. “Conditions-wise, and everything else, it hosted the event wonderfully. But other than the fact that 90 per cent “ well, all of us (players) “ basically didn’t enjoy what it had to offer, just because of the nature of the golf course, the way it’s designed.
“Ninety per cent of us want to play the old-style kind of golf course.”
The truth is that aside from the fact Angus Glen’s North Course is only an average design, though one that held up well at the Canadian Open, the course was also overly wet throughout the week. That’s a fact that Weir’s caddy Brennan Little brought up last night — and one that seemed to have him perplexed. Largely, though the media tried to goad Ames into going off on Angus Glen, Ames was pretty careful. He didn’t like the condition of the course — it was too wet, he said — but that was something I heard from other players as well. As for the notion that the Canadian Open should be going to a “old-style kind golf course,” well Ames is right.
And if Feschuk thinks Vijay Singh’s comment that Angus Glen’s North Course is “fine” is a compliment, I’d say he’s wrong. It was simply Singh holding true to the old adage of “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
I played Dundarave for the second time this morning. I must admit I thought more highly of it the first time, but I still think it has some fine golf holes and a good finishing stretch. The 16 — a short, driveable par four — is excellent, as is the downhill par three 17th and the par five 18th, with its nasty deep bunker short left of the green. I was pleased to see my game has almost completely returned — I carded a 70 with an eagle on the final hole.
Crowbush, on the other hand, was better than I recall it being, and weaker in spots at the same time. The best holes play along the dunes, but far too often holes simply play among pine trees, not that dissimilar to much of Tom McBroom’s work at the time. The bad holes — namely 11 — are equaled out by holes like #8 (the par three over the ocean pool), and #16, with its great drive and view. Is Crowbush Top 10 in Canada? It wouldn’t be in my books, but I still think it is a good golf course.
All of this got me thinking about the PEI golf situation. The government has pledged to sell its four courses, even though it is spending a lot of money bringing Weir and Singh (and Nicklaus and Watson last year) out to the island to demonstrate how good the golf is. The problem is that PEI didn’t build one world class course — think Pacific Dunes, The Ocean Course at Kiawah, or Whistling Straits — and if you look to the east of the 11th hole at PEI, it is clear there is land to build such a facility. However, environmental concerns and other issues kept the government from developing something that people would travel long distances to see.
That’s not to say Dundarave and Crowbush are weak courses — they’re not. However, they aren’t the types of courses I’d travel three or four hours by plane to come and see either.