Go easy on Angus Glen

IAN HUTCHINSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:37 AM ET

Today is the sixth anniversary of what should have been a glorious day for the Angus Glen North Course, but turned into a day of infamy in one sense.

A group of bleary-eyed PGA Tour players got off a trans-Atlantic flight to play the spanking, new North Course, including David Duval, who had just been crowned British Open champ, and Sergio Garcia, who handed this year's Open Championship to Padraig Harrington yesterday.

It has been speculated that there may have been one or two hangovers on board, but the tour players still managed to beat up the North Course and raise a red flag about its worthiness as a site for the 2007 Canadian Open, which gets underway on Thursday.

"What I remember about 2001 is that the fairways were wide and there were a lot of fairway bunkers off to the side," said Mike Weir, who also played in the 2001 Telus Skins Game that day.

Weir checked out the North Course a couple of weeks ago and noticed distinct changes from that virgin layout he faced in 2001. "You don't really see those fairway bunkers now. You just see fescue and narrow fairways and some tee boxes have lengthened out quite a number of holes.

"I think, partly, the criticism is that they set it up for a Skins (game). They had the course set up easy because they wanted birdies and eagles for TV," Weir said.

Stephen Ames adds that it's important to remember Angus Glen's main purpose. "The golf course was designed for corporate golf from the start and the (Royal Canadian Golf Association) went and picked that golf course for a Canadian Open and changes had to be made to make it tougher.

"That's the unfortunate thing for Angus Glen. They've been given the bad name for that reason," said Ames, who hasn't played the North Course since Davis Love III went to work to prepare it for the Open.

Love also stresses the importance of remembering that Angus Glen is a corporate facility and that the changes he made should not reflect on the original designers, Doug Carrick and Jay Morrish.

"They didn't really think about a Canadian Open being played here. If they'd have built this for the Canadian Open, it might have been even longer," said Love, who checked out his work about a month ago, but won't be here this week despite missing the cut at the British Open on Friday.

If this was a field of dreams in baseball, it simply would be build it and they will come. In golf, the attitude is redesign it and a few top stars might come, but not the guy who actually redesigned it. Wasn't Kevin Costner around when he built a playing surface and the players showed up in the movie?

His lack of good judgement aside, Love says the original design suited its original purpose. "We liked what they did. We liked the width and maybe, they went overboard in the width, but I think they knew it could get really windy out here and they're going to have a lot of people playing and a short season.

"They did the right thing. If you would have said, 'We're going to bring 144 of the best players in the world out here to play,' they might have done something a little different," he said.

The Open will be played at just over 7,400 yards and par has been taken down one notch to 71, with the fifth hole transformed into a par four from a par five.

Fairways have been tightened on nine holes and landing areas were altered on three holes to help the pros better see where their shots land. Tees have been moved on seven holes and bunkers have been moved around to better challenge shots and encourage strategy.

The Open will finish on the 17th and 18th holes of the older South Course to provide an amphitheatre setting near the clubhouse for the conclusion of each round, especially the grand finale on Sunday.

Weir predicts that, when all is said and done, the winning score on the North Course will probably be no higher than normal on tour. "It's not going to be 20-under, but it's not going to be close to even par.

"If I was to give a guess, I would say, given weather conditions, anywhere from 10 to 15 under par."


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