BANFF, Alta. — Just moments before his opening tee shot, Stephen Ames echoed the thoughts of thousands of fans by saying, “I’m just happy it’s not raining.”
Even though the sun made an afternoon appearance, Mother Nature still messed with the second half of the Telus World Skins Game at Fairmont Banff Springs.
Tuesday’s morning rainstorm forced the cancellation of the Pro-Am, meaning PGA Tour standouts Paul Casey, Lucas Glover, Anthony Kim and Jhonnatan Vegas were getting their first glimpse of the back nine at Stanley Thompson’s historic layout in Banff National Park.
Although Calgary’s Stephen Ames provided the occasional pointer on a course he’s played a handful of times, the result of their first lap was some wayward tee-shots and plenty of missed putts.
“It’s a little tricky,” admitted Casey, who twice chipped out of the trees during Tuesday’s second session.
“I think, with a course like this where the golf ball is going so far, it’s difficult to commit to certain shots, especially when you’re taking it over corners and over trees and not knowing what’s down there. That can be a little tricky.
“But it kind of adds to the fun, as well. And it’s the same for everybody. I think we were a lot more aggressive over the last two days with the way we were playing. Because it is skins, we were just trying to make birdies and eagles. And if this was 72 holes of stroke-play, you wouldn’t have seen so many drivers. I think we hit driver on every single hole except the par-3s, and you wouldn’t normally see that. That makes it kind of fun, but guys get into trouble a little bit more, as well.”
If this was Tuesday’s practice rounds at Old White TPC in West Virginia, the site of this week’s PGA Tour stop — the Greenbrier Classic — you would have spotted the pros hitting countless putts from different areas of each green.
But since the pros at Banff Springs went without any kind of prolonged warm-up Tuesday, fans standing outside the ropes witnessed a lot of putts that slid just an inch or two wide of the hole during the second nine of the Skins Game.
A testament to their skill level, the five Nike-sponsored swingers still combined for nine birdies and an eagle on the back nine, although you get the feeling they would’ve made even more had Tuesday’s Pro-Am not been washed out.
Not that anybody seemed too upset.
“It’s a different scenario and a different setup for something like this,” Glover said. “We’re out there ribbing each other pretty good and laughing at a bad shot, and you’d never see that at a tournament. I think people get to see what they might not see during a regular week because it is set up for fun and for charity.”
Just moments after Tuesday’s trophy and cheque presentation, Kim was catching a flight south to tee it up at the Greenbrier Classic. He’s missed most of the practice time at Old White TPC, too, but the 26-year-old didn’t seem too concerned.
“I’m actually not tired. I’m enjoying travelling. I’m enjoying playing golf again,” Kim said. “It’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed being out there. I’m hitting the ball on the middle of the face, and I haven’t done that in a year-and-a-half, so to be able to find it and not be dropping all the time makes me feel good about my game.
“Hopefully, I’ll get some rest on the plane and be ready to go.”