Banff scores Telus Skins Game

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:05 AM ET

CALGARY - Banff Springs is getting another visit from the shooting stars.

It won't be announced until some of this snow melts, but multiple sources have confirmed the 2011 Telus World Skins Game will be contested at Stanley Thompson's award-winning golf course in Banff National Park.

The five-man field hasn’t been finalized, but it’s a safe bet Calgary’s Stephen Ames will be among the world-class competitors. The two-day exhibition event is scheduled for July 25-26, immediately after the PGA Tour’s RBC Canadian Open at Vancouver’s Shaughnessy Golf & Country Club.

It’s no secret Fairmont Banff Springs officials have craved a second shot at hosting the Telus World Skins Game after Ames, Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman, John Daly and Sergio Garcia treated spectators to an entertaining show — and a hefty helping of birdies — in 2006.

Apparently, the feeling was mutual.

As a result, it’ll soon be made official that sun-starved golf enthusiasts in our snowy city have something to look forward to.

The skins game will undoubtedly showcase the biggest names to tee it up in the Calgary area this summer and, if history is any indication, even casual golf fans will recognize all of them.

The 2010 Telus World Skins Game at Bear Mountain in Victoria featured Canada’s Mike Weir, plus fan favourite Fred Couples and PGA Tour regulars Retief Goosen, Ian Poulter and Camilo Villegas.

Other past participants include Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson, Colin Montgomerie, Geoff Ogilvy and Vijay Singh.

The picturesque golf course will also assume a starring role in the nationally-televised skins game, which featured a $365,000 purse last summer.

The Fairmont Banff Springs has been consistently ranked among the finest tracks in Canada. When SCOREGolf Magazine unveiled its latest list of the top 100 courses in the country last fall, the 6,938-yard setup in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains was ranked at No. 5.

The fourth hole — a picturesque par-3 that’s known as Devil’s Cauldron — found itself in exclusive company in 2000, when it cracked Golf Digest’s list of the 18 best holes in the world.

And if the pros want to try a virtual practice round, Banff Springs was the only Canadian course included on EA Sports’ Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters video game, which was released last month.

The 2006 Telus World Skins Game featured a heritage theme, with the Golden Bear, the Great White Shark and the three others using hickory-shafted clubs for their tee-shots at Devil’s Cauldron.

Turns out, this summer marks the 100th anniversary of golf in Banff, a rich tradition that dates back to a nine-hole course built by railway workers and eventually scrapped so the legendary Thompson could create his masterpiece. By the time that project was completed in 1928, it became the first golf course with a construction tab of more than $1 million.

For two days in July, five guys that have made millions with their golf clubs in tow will grace those same greens.

What better way to celebrate?

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