Members are talking proud

MIKE KOREEN -- TORONTO SUN

, Last Updated: 7:32 AM ET

ANCASTER -- Even after receiving a pep talk from Ian Leggatt this summer, John Mickle had doubts about the toughness of his Hamilton Golf and Country Club. Looking back, the club\'s 30-year general manager, who will retire next month, realizes he should have believed Leggatt when the Cambridge native told him the short course would provide a gruelling test at the Canadian Open.

The one fear Mickle, 59, had heading into the tournament was that the pros might embark on a birdie binge.

Boy, was he wrong.

Turns out the players are using words like \"championship\" and \"perfect\" to describe the private course and that\'s music to the ears of Mickle and club members.

\"This is the perfect way to go out,\" Mickle said. \"I knew it was a great golf course, but I didn\'t know how it would stand up to these guys. Ian Leggatt is a smart man. He told me, \'John, they are not going to rip this course apart, especially with the (long) rough and all that.\'

\"He was more perceptive than I was. I thought we were going to be looking at 16- to 20-under (to win the tournament).\"

And some members had more confidence than the boss.

\"We already knew how good it was,\" said 25-year member Chuck LeMenchick, one of 350 members -- the course has 750 adult golf members -- volunteering this week.

\"This course is constantly ranked in the top five (in Canada) and that\'s without the help of the Toronto media.\"

The members have played a big role in the success. When they voted on whether to bid for the Open, 78% gave their support. They gave up the course last Tuesday and the club has given something back by arranging free rounds for members at neighbouring courses. HGCC has a seven-year waiting list for new members and that is bound to increase.

\"It won\'t hurt, that\'s for sure,\" Mickle said of his club, which has an initiation fee in the neighbourhood of $40,000. \"All the members are very proud and they\'re going to be proud to bring guests here.\"

They\'ll be even happier when the rough returns to normal length.

\"I\'m hoping to get the tournament over, so we can have our old course back without that thick rough,\" member/Canadian Open volunteer Marc Santucci said.

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\"I remember hitting a few shots (prior to the Open) when I hit it 10 yards and I couldn\'t find the ball.\"

Because of all the glowing reviews, Mickle wouldn\'t be surprised if the club takes another run at hosting the event.

\"I think if you voted again after the event, you\'d get 99% (support),\" he said.


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