Phil Mickelson envisions family first at his Calgary golf club – Calgary SunPosted: 11 Sep 2015 News
Minutes late to a news conference unveiling their vision for Mickelson National, Phil Mickelson and course owner Barry Ehlert arrived with smiles and an explanation.
“We got pulled over by the police,” said Ehlert with a laugh, coming clean on the fact he couldn’t produce his insurance or registration papers while en route to The Hamptons Golf Club.
“I said to the officer, ‘Listen, I don’t know if you know who Phil Mickelson is, but we are on our way to a press conference.”
The next thing Ehlert knew they were on their way — with a strict warning, of course.
Even without a club in his hand, golf’s short-game master managed to get out of another jam.
Known worldwide for his big balls on the course and his craftiness around the green, it shouldn’t be surprising the five-time major winner revealed Thursday he’ll be trying to pull off another miracle at the Springbank site by building a course that is all things to everyone — something designers have tried in vain for years.
“The expressed purpose is to create a family development that introduces the game to young kids and is enjoyable to players of all skill levels, but in the back of our mind to host a tour event that could be challenging for the tour players and is also enjoyable to the spectator,” said Mickelson, who was announced as a captains pick for the American President’s Cup team on Tuesday before jetting to Calgary for two days of on-site course inspection, for Thursday’s news conference at The Hamptons and to enjoy a meet-and-greet with members.
“It’s really not a juggling act — all it is is just putting in a little thought and effort. I want people walking off this golf course saying, ‘That was really fun and a good challenge.’ ”
The father of three says his passion for building a course suitable for young families to play together stems from his days growing up in San Diego, where he and his dad played golf at Balboa Park municipal golf course everyday after school.
“One of my favourite moments was spending time with my father playing golf after school — we’d play until dark and would get stuck on the golf course, and we’d have to hike down a canyon and back up in the pitch-black,” said Lefty, whose course layout includes allowing golfers to go on two, four and six-hole loops ending back at the clubhouse.
“By creating these routes where we can play a handful of holes allows families to come out with their kids to play until dark. These are the type of details I think are important.”
The course will also include tee-boxes for juniors ranging from 50 to 150-yards from each pin, a year-round practice facility, a lounge in the clubhouse basement and having the mounding surrounding the 18th green turned into sledding hills each winter.
Using the word nuance almost as many times as he’s won on the PGA Tour (42 times), Mickelson truly seems engaged in a 7,600-yard project he hopes will play host to the Canadian Open, several years after the course’s soft opening in 2017.
Mickelson revealed it wasn’t his first trip to Calgary, citing a jaunt north 30 years ago he fondly remembers.
“I was 14 or 15 and played the Junior America’s Cup, and we ended up playing at the Calgary Country Club — it was my first exposure to team golf and my first exposure to Calgary, and it was spectacular,” said the 45-year-old, who had represented the U.S. in international team play more than any other man.
“The green and blues and the snow-capped mountains are colours we just don’t see in our area. It’s such a great site.”
Mickelson’s course-designing partner Rick Smith says the World Golf Hall-of-Fame member isn’t just paying lip service to this project, he’s using an eye that’s seen courses around the world to hone in on exactly what can satisfy the needs of junior golfers, the average hack and tour players alike.
“Golf is getting too difficult and too time consuming, and Phil and I feel that responsibility to grow the game of golf,” Smith said.
“More than anything, we want this to be fun. We don’t want anybody to lose a ball on this course.”
With perfect comedic timing, Mickelson interjected.
“Some of you we can’t help,” he said with a laugh.
Indeed, some jams even Lefty can’t get out of.
Original article written by Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun can be found here.