Course preview: Mickelson National, Calgary (Architects: Phil Mickelson and Rick Smith)
Overview: Developed by Windmill Golf and Barry Ehlert, this Calgary project just outside the city is being pegged as a potential site for the RBC Canadian Open in 2019 or 2020. It is in its early stages now, with only a handful of holes shaped, but I toured the site and got a sense of the scope of the project and its ambitions. It is next to a massive real estate project, and that dictates the pace of the course. That means a handful of holes will be completed this year, some more next, and finally the course should be finished in 2017.
The details: The course has a massive storm water management system that means there is a lot of water in parts of the course. The holes I saw (1, 10, 18 for instance) often have water on them, but the ponds don’t look like they’ll be in play a great deal. What was interesting is the mix of holes on the routing, including two short par 4s on a course that is really long given the altitude. It would be premature to make any comment on the quality of the project given that it is really early, but there are a number of really solid shapers/designers involved, including Riley Johns who worked on Cabot Cliffs. The final result is said to be a mix of parkland and links, though I think a links would fit the sight. The scale is vast, so big bunkers would also work. And there’s already a lot of land being moved, creating more elevation than I expected. Finally, homes aren’t going to be tight to the course, so that is a definite positive.
Conclusion: Too early to draw one, but the routing looks intriguing. Look for this to open in 2017 at the earliest.