Every year when the PGA Tour rolls through Canada it’s a special week. The fans, the courses, the food, the Canadiana, it always makes me proud to be a Canuck. This year they’ve ramped that up a notch. The best field in memory is in town, they’re playing a fantastic course, and it’s the week before the US Open. Things are shaping up to be pretty, pretty good this week.

I will get to the field in tomorrows tournament preview blog but today was all about learning the course. After three failed attempts to turn into the media parking lot (when I say it was hard to locate I mean unless you knew exactly where to look you were going right past it) I made my way into the lot and parked the car. A few minutes later I was stepping out of the media shuttle and looking at this:

Hamilton G&CC Clubhouse

I’m not going to lie to you; that sight gave me some jitters. Regardless of how many events I cover the first day always makes me nervous. Today with the added pressure I’ve put on myself to have a big week and remembering the last time I was at this course as a spectator, it just gave me butterflies. Thankfully my next sight helped to ease the quease (let’s just pretend that’s a word).

Good doggy got some boops on the head and I had a little spring in my step. Next stop was the media centre. Here’s a peek at the main room:

After noticing that many of the stars in the field weren’t yet on the property I did some research and took extensive notes on 28 players I’d like to interview (look out Alex Cejka!)

Once done that I needed to stretch the legs and clear the brain so I decided to take a stroll to the driving range and putting green to see what was going on there. On the way I passed the pro shop. In case anyone wasn’t sure where they were, the pro shop makes it abundantly clear you’re in Canada.

Nearby, those setting up for this weekends concert series are almost done with the stage. For more on that click here

And there also happens to be a special area for caddies! Well, and media people who want to take a few quick pictures and get out of there. Pretty cool if you ask me; hopefully something that gets adopted by more events on tours everywhere.

On my way through the putting green I did see one relatively marquee name getting some practice in: Sergio Garcia. The Spaniard seemed relatively calm at the moment, but we all know how quickly that can change.

Then to the range. It provided a bit of entertainment as well. I was attempting to get a nice video panning the range as you can see here:

But I was distracted when I saw guys trying to hit a persimmon wood. Something about the sound and nostalgia of it just stops me in my tracks every time.

After that little bit of fun it was time to stretch the legs and walk all 18 holes. I like to do this at every event I go to in order to get a feel for the course and how everything is laid out. It always helps the rest of the week go much smoother and gives me confidence that I know where everything is. What especially stood out to me from this course were the vast elevation changes, the tightness of the fairways, and the strategy that will be required to score well. The majority of courses on the PGA Tour are relatively long and straight, measuring between 7200 and 7400 yards. This weeks track is under 7000 and takes driver out of the hands of the players on quite a few tee boxes. While that detail may not set up the same as next weeks US Open track Pebble Beach, the elevation changes and tight fairways certainly will. Here are a few examples:

“The Rink” is back again this year. It doesn’t encompass the entire hole as in the past, but the boards along with the marshals wearing referee jerseys are a nice touch.
17th Hole at Hamilton G&CC
The 18th fairway. Someone will walk up this hill on Sunday afternoon with a putt to win the Canadian Open.
Reverse view of the 18th hole

Good stuff. The maintenance crews were still hard at work getting the course in tip-top shape and I can only hope the pros get the test that this course can offer if it plays the way it’s supposed to. Today was a little chilly and very windy, and the ground was moist from some morning rain. By Thursday though the course should have dried up nicely and be playing just how the powers at be want it to.

Tomorrow is shaping up to be a great day. I have dozens of interviews I’m hoping to get to and then the Raptors play game 3 in the evening. Tune in all week for updates, including tomorrow as things ramp up towards real golf Thursday morning. I expect all the big names will be on site tomorrow and I’m looking forward to fan-boying internally over Brooks, Rory, DJ and JT. I’ll try to get some good stuff for you guys. Until then, take care and thanks for reading!

@RJMcCullough

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