As mentioned, I’m writing over at Sympatico this week — which is kind of neat since it gives me the freedom that I never had when I wrote for the space constrained National Post. Anyway, my first piece is on Glen Abbey, the changes that have been made and a couple of holes to pay particular attention to.
Here’s a taste:
Once again Glen Abbey Golf Course in Oakville, Ont., will host the tournament, as it has 24 times previous and did last year when Chez Reavie eked a rain-soaked victory. There are some differences though. The field is a little stronger this year “ with the likes of Luke Donald, Sean O’Hair and Camilo Villegas coming to Canada “ and the deck has been shuffled as far as holes go at Glen Abbey.
The golf course, the first solo design by Jack Nicklaus, previously started on a long par-4 that played as a three-shot hole for typical course play. However, the front nine as conceived by Nicklaus “ and which no one currently can explain “ ended with a walk of several hundred yards to the 10th tee, an awkward jaunt that forced players to walks past several holes and often through spectators.
Canadian Open tournament director Bill Paul began considering a change last year, and asked Mike Weir and Stephen Ames, among others, about making a routing alteration. Both approved of the concept, so Paul devised a layout where players will start on the fourth hole “ a long par-4 with a heavily contoured green “ and then play through the old ninth hole, now the sixth. From there, golfers will proceed to the par-3 seventh (previously the third hole) and then play the opening holes of the old routing. The players then make a short walk over to the 10th tee.
“I ran the concept by 20 guys,” Paul says. “In the early days we shuttled players from ninth to 10 tee. It is almost two holes of golf (between the green and next tee.)”