Rare air excites big bashers

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:39 AM ET

Paul Casey is admittedly no expert on Alberta.

He’s teed off in the Rocky Mountains before, though, so the long-bombing Brit has a pretty good idea what he’ll see at next week’s 2011 Telus World Skins Game at Fairmont Banff Springs.

Or what he might have trouble seeing as the ball rips through our airspace.

“If you go play up in Colorado and these places, the golf ball just goes ridiculous distances,” Casey said, the enthusiasm evident in his voice. “How high is Banff? How high are we going to be?”

Fairmont Banff Springs, the site of the two-day exhibition event that runs Monday and Tuesday, sits at about 4,500 feet of elevation.

That’s not quite as high as some spots in Colorado, but it’s certainly a lot further from sea level than last week’s British Open at Royal St George’s in Jolly Ol’ England or this week’s RBC Canadian Open at Shaughnessy Golf & Country Club on the Pacific Coast.

And Casey, whose longest drive at the gusty British Open travelled an out-of-this-world 355 yards, is obviously excited about it.

“Depending on how high you hit it, it will impact some guys more than others. I have a pretty high ball flight, so

I tend to get more advantage out of the altitude than others,” Casey said.

“If a seven-iron goes

175 yards at Royal St. George’s, then it could be going

200 yards in Banff when we get there, which is a lot of fun.”

Fun for the players.

Fun for the fans, too.

Calgary Stephen Ames has hit a lot of golf balls in Alberta and estimates it’ll fly about 10% further in his home province. In the thin mountain air, that makes Stanley Thompson’s 6,938-yard layout at Fairmont Banff Springs about a 6,250-yard playground.

For five guys that already mushmerize their tee shots, that’s not a lot of turf to traverse.

Venezuela’s Jhonattan Vegas sits ninth on the PGA Tour in driving distance with an average rip of 302.2 yards.

Casey (294.5), Lucas Glover (293.3) and Anthony Kim (292.2) also rank on the plus side of the PGA Tour’s driving average.

And with a usual slug of 282.3 yards, Ames is certainly no slouch, either.

When you’re hitting it that far off the tee, you get a lot of mileage out of your so-called scoring clubs.

That means fans at the Telus World Skins Game can expect to see a barrage of birdies at the historic track.

“It’s going to be fun seeing guys hitting wedges from

150 or 160 yards,” Vegas said.

“It’s going to be a really fun experience, everything that comes with it.

“The crowd should be really excited with seeing the ball flying that high and that far, and that’s kind of why we’re there too — to make people have fun and see who can make the most birdies.”


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