Canyon Meadows Golf and Country Club started as a modest homegrown private club, but the parkland golf course will demonstrate its maturity when it hosts the second annual Shaw Charity Classic on the Champions Tour next week.
The course grew out of a design by the club’s initial creator, Otto Anderson, who crafted nine holes on a piece of parkland that features subtle natural features. It opened in 1957 and five different architects have been involved in its evolution.
“It was a group of golfers who were looking for a place to play,” says Jim Hope, Canyon Meadows’ general manager. “They went out and picked the land and the club grew out of that.”
While it may have humble origins, Canyon Meadows has seen significant changes in recent years. All 18 greens have been rebuilt in recent years and Calgary architect Gary Browning made significant changes to the course’s routing as well. In all, seven holes were almost completely reworked eight years ago and several fairways were regressed after last year’s Shaw Charity Classic.
Many of the players at last year’s tournament praised the quality of the course’s conditioning, and tournament director Sean Van Kesteren said the putting surfaces are some of the best he’s seen.
“They are incredible,” he said.
One of the changes this year involves tee times. Last year all golfers played from the first tee, but this year Champions Tour players will tee off from the first and 10th tees on Friday, which means a later start. Saturday and Sunday will see the golfers tee off in their order on the leaderboard from the first tee.
One of the reasons the tournament came to the club is local oilman Clay Riddell – he’s one of the founders of the event and a member at Canyon Meadows. But beyond that, Hope admits in a competitive market it doesn’t hurt to show off Canyon Meadows both on television and to the estimated 50,000 spectators who are expected to watch the Champions Tour’s best.
“We are a private club, but in a competitive market it never hurts to have people see your course,” said Hope. “But in another way it is the club’s way of giving back to the community.”
As for a score, the course should yield its share of birdies, despite playing to nearly 7,200 yards. Last year, eventual winner Rocco Mediate shot the course record of 63 during his opening round.
The course’s finishing holes, which includes two par fives at the 15th and 18th, saw their share of drama last year, especially from big hitters like Fred Couples and Tom Lehman. Both should be reachable in two shots by the longer hitters in the field, but also have their share of penalties for those who are wayward in their approach shots.
“The close is a great stretch of holes where you can score,” Van Kesteren said. “There’s a good chance that’s where it could be decided.”