Mickelson National Golf Club | Earth-movers making way for Mickelson National Golf Club of Canada
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Earth-movers making way for Mickelson National Golf Club of Canada

Posted: 09 Jun 2015 Sam Schultz News

Barry Ehlert set out to build a world-class golf course just west of Calgary.

Superstar designer Phil Mickelson shares his vision.

And, just as important, Lefty shares Ehlert’s enthusiasm, too.

“I remember a situation where I looked at my phone and didn’t recognize the number, so I pick up the phone and … ‘Hey Barry, it’s Phil Mickelson,’ ” said Ehlert, the managing partner for the Calgary-based Windmill Golf Group.

“He just wanted to chat my ear off for 45 minutes about the design and all the cool things he wants to bring to Calgary and Rocky View county with this new golf course we’re building. He’s got some real fun ideas and some concepts that I think will be absolutely spectacular for our golf course, so it’s really, really exciting.”

Ehlert made headlines last September when he announced that he’d hired Mickelson — the winner of five majors, 37 other PGA Tour events and already an inductee to the World Golf Hall of Fame — to map out a private course he hopes will one day be considered to host the RBC Canadian Open.

It’ll still be more than two years before anybody is digging divots at Mickelson National Golf Club of Canada, but the big news is they’re now moving dirt. That’s essentially the opening tee-shot in the construction process, with the goal to open the 7,930-yard layout in the fall of 2017.

The sprawling site — located near Springbank Airport and with unobstructed views of the Rockies — was a hub of activity last weekend, with a handful of heavy-duty Earth-movers beginning to shape the first few assignments and stakes marking future tees and greens.

While the 44-year-old Mickelson will be busy trying to complete his career grand slam at the 2015 U.S. Open, other key members of the design team will be in Calgary next week to get a glimpse of the early progress.

“I’m thrilled that we’ve begun work on a project we’re confident will be one of the outstanding courses in Canada,” Mickelson said in a statement. “The land and setting give us a great opportunity to create a versatile course that will both challenge the world’s best players and be great fun for amateurs of all levels.”

“Make no bones about it — we truly want to create one of the most spectacular golf courses in Canada. That’s our intent,” Ehlert echoed. “It’ll be a bold golf course, and what I mean by that is big shapes, big mounds, big fairways, big bunkers, big greens, lots of movement … It’s going to be aesthetically pleasing. It’s going to be fair. It’s going be great for membership. It’s going to be something people will want to play every day.”

Mickelson National will be a centrepiece of the 1,750-acre Harmony development, a joint effort by Qualico Communities and Bordeaux Properties that includes about 140 acres of lake and wetlands.

Representatives of both companies joined Ehlert for a meeting with Mickelson and his team in San Diego last year, where the three-time Masters champion made it clear that he wasn’t only focused on the fairways and greens.

“He leaned over to me and said, ‘Birol, tell me about your community,’” recalled Birol Fisekci, the president and CEO of Bordeaux Properties. “We had just over an hour of conversation about what we were trying to accomplish, what’s important to our vision, what’s important to the community …

“He gets what we’re trying to do, from a vision perspective, in our community.”

Original article written by Wes Gilbertson for the Calgary Sun.