On Friday afternoon, I was lucky to spend some time with Barry Ehlert, Managing Partner, and Kevin Thistle, VP of Business Development, of the Windmill Golf Group. We were out on the construction site of the Mickelson National Golf Course in Springbank, Alberta, just West of Calgary. The golf course is being developed by Windmill Golf Group and designed by Phil Mickelson Design. PMD is the design company of PGA Tour Professional and 5-time major winner Phil Mickelson. Phil is affectionately known as “Lefty” to his golf fans because he plays golf with left-handed clubs.
I first learned that Phil Mickelson was going to be designing a course in Calgary through one of my best friends who lives in the neighbouring province of Saskatchewan. She was watching the lunchtime news on TV one day and saw a feature about the course being built. She promptly gave me a call and asked me if I knew anything about it. I didn’t. But I wanted to find out more.
Next, I followed Barry with my Twitter account and after he followed me, we had a little back-and-forth chat about Mickelson National. I told him I’d like to follow the project, and told him a bit about 78MPH (we logged our 8,000th reader this week) and a bit about me (I’m turning 81 next week) and my interest in golf (I have a 14 handicap and I’ve played at over 170 different courses to date).
We arranged to meet!
This is Mickelson’s first Canadian golf course design, and will count as PMD’s 6th golf design. His first design was Whisper Rock in Scottsdale, AZ.; he has designed a course in Shanghai, one in China, a short game practice area for the La Jolla Country Club, and designed the upcoming renovation of the North Course at Torrey Pines. Owned and operated by the City of San Diego, California – Mickelson’s home town, Torrey Pines is the most famous municipal golf course in the USA – and host to the Farmers Insurance Open.
Work on the 7,621 yard course, located in Rocky View County began earlier this summer and is slated to open in 2017.
What Mickelson’s vision is for this course is a course that families can enjoy, as well as making it long enough and challenging enough to entice professional tours to make a stop and play. Because of this, creating a course that can give families playing options is a must, so they’ll be able to play two holes, four holes, six holes and nine holes and easily return to the Clubhouse. You can see how easily that will work in principle from the hole map above. People wanting to play two holes could play 1 and 18 (two par 4s), for those who want to play 4 holes can play 1, 2, 17 and 18 (three par 4s and one par 3); those wanting to play 6 holes can play 1, 2, 3, 8, 17 and 18 (three par 4s and three par 3s).
What a Treat!
What a treat it was to see the first stages of a golf course in production. It was a bit what I would have imagined a walk on the moon being like. We spent our time looking at the 10th and 11th holes and even though the course is bare, I can imagine how rolling and sculpted the course will be when it’s completed.
The huge earth moving equipment was in action on many holes. Barry told me these equipment operators are experienced golf course builders, each with many years of expertise in creating golf courses.
It’s totally amazing at how great these builders are at their jobs.
We could see the makings of the 10th green from where the back tees are going to be located on the 11th hole. Even though all the holes are being created using bulldozers and earth movers, it honestly looks like they’ve been hand sculpted.
The 10th hole, as you can see in the picture above, has water to the right and you can see the “cut out” of the bunkers that will come into play on this hole right across the water. Flags have been put in place to show the layout of the holes: 9, 10, 11, and 18 although you won’t be able to see the outline of all these holes till later this month.
The clubhouse will be located where you’d expect it, at the end of both the 9th and 18th holes and the start of the 1st and 10th. There are plans for a spectacular waterfall in front of the clubhouse.
Kevin told me there will be a selection of tee boxes, with two sets for Juniors with a yardage of 4800 yards and shorter. All the tee boxes will all be in a line – so no forward tees over to the left or right of the back tees!
Mickelson National will be at the heart of a 1,750 acre community built by Qualico Communities and Bordeaux Properties called Harmony. The first of the show homes for Harmony Developments are supposed to be open later this month, but there won’t be any encroachment of homes on the golf course for at least 15 years.
At the end of this month, I’ll go take another look at how Mickelson National is coming along and give you an update then. Memberships are already available for purchase at $14,900. You can learn more about becoming a full member here.