The most talked-about new golf course in Canada is almost certainly Calgary’s National Golf Club. Since June 1, the National Golf Club has been open to the general public, becoming Mickelson’s first Canadian golf course designed exclusively by the 50-year-old. The project to bring the Mickelson National Golf Club to Calgary has been ongoing for more than a decade. It has survived recessions and turbulent economic times to come out the other side.
In its infancy, the course was due to be co-designed by Stephen Ames and Johnny Miller. However, the brains behind the development firm overseeing the project, Barry Ehlert, recently revealed that a change of tac was needed to accomplish a course design that had “never been done in Calgary”. Hence, the relationship with Phil Mickelson was cultivated, with Lefty inking terms on a design deal in 2014. Six years later, Mickelson’s masterpiece has finally come to fruition.
In terms of sporting heritage, Calgary has long been known as a premier spot for sports and betting, given that it’s the third-largest city in the country. With the NHL’s Flames, the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders and the Calgary Stampede rodeo festival – dubbed the “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth” – it’s a city that loves its sport. However, golf has never been too high on its priority list – possibly due to the climate. The Mickelson National Golf Club aims to create a golfing legacy.
Preview play has been available at the National Golf Club since 2019
Last year, the Mickelson National Golf Club opened its doors for free, allowing excited golfers in the Calgary area to play a few holes of Lefty’s latest golf course design. The Windmill Golf Group, who developed the course, offered “preview play” to locals in return for charitable donations to the Calgary PREP Program. All indications suggest that the course has been well-received, so let’s fill you in on the nuts and bolts of Calgary’s new National Golf Club.
According to Barry Ehlert, Mickelson’s vision for the National Golf Club was to create “different design characteristics and features” that would appeal greatly to both “high and low handicap golfers”. Framed with expansive foothills and with magnificent vistas and snow-capped peaks in the distance, this is a course with vast, open spaces to exploit. Mickelson designed the course to encourage brave and bold shot-makers, while the option of multiple tees also offers excellent flexibility.
At the time of writing, only Premium membership is available to the public, giving members access to reciprocal courses, as well as member-only events, for the princely sum of CAD$23,900.
Mickleson’s talents for golf course design
Of course, Lefty is no stranger to designing new golf courses. Back in 2001, Mickelson designed his first course at Whisper Rock, Arizona. More recently, he offered his help in redesigning and breathing new life into West Virginia’s Greenbrier course, which was hit hard by severe flooding in 2016. A year later, he was also enlisted to redesign an 18-hole course on the island of Bali, which would become the Trump International Golf Club.
Mickelson has returned to action on the PGA Tour after three months out. He failed to make the cut at the Charles Schwab Challenge at the beginning of June. His next mission sees him make the trip to Connecticut for Cromwell’s Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands. Had Lefty made the cut in the Charles Schwab Challenge, it’s possible he would have given the Travelers Championship a swerve, but there appears to be a strong line-up of entrants, with eight of the world’s top ten players committed to the event.
Mickelson also recently took part in a socially-distanced event called “The Match: Champions for Charity”, designed to raise funds for relief efforts across the States. The pro-am matchplay saw Mickelson team up with NFL icon Tom Brady against Tiger Woods and another NFL great, Peyton Manning.