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Be a Canadian golf expert in one easy lesson

John GordonBy John Gordon,

So you've finally decided to come to Canada for a golf vacation.

First question (many others to follow): What the heck took you so long?

Were you bamboozled by those "hosers," Bob and Doug McKenzie, when they labeled your huge, happy, hospitable neighbor the "Great White North"?

If so, divest yourself immediately of those misconceptions. At the same time, take those skis off the roof rack and throw the golf clubs in the trunk.

Our mission today is to transform you into an expert on Canadian golf in 10 minutes.

Seriously, Canada has a long and enviable golf history, one which you can ponder as you play some of the 2,000 courses up here this summer.

Here we go.

Question: Can you play golf in Canada year round?

Answer: Yes, especially around Vancouver and Victoria in British Columbia. Parts of Ontario are farther south than New York City, and you can play there eight months of the year. In general, Canadian summers are moderate, with temperatures seldom exceeding 85 degrees. It will be cooler, of course, in the mountains or at the seaside, and warmer inland, in the Interior of British Columbia, for example. June, July and August are the best months for guaranteed good weather in most of the country. May can be a little dicey, but September and early October have their own charms, like crisp, clear weather and brilliantly colored leaves.

Q: Which golf course did Alister Mackenzie (architect of Augusta National, among others) say was the finest he had ever seen?

A: Jasper Park Lodge in Alberta's Rocky Mountains remains open to the public for a Cdn$99 guest fee.

Q: The architect of Jasper Park Lodge was Robert Trent Jones's mentor. Who was he?

A: Stanley Thompson, a co-founder with Donald Ross of the American Society of Golf Course Architects.

Q: Where are the best turfgrass-growing conditions in the world?

A: The cool nights, warm days and great soil of Southern Ontario make the area the envy of greenskeepers worldwide.

Q: Where do you play around a graveyard and lobster dories?

A: Highlands Links on Nova Scotia's Cape Breton Island. It's been ranked as high as 64th in the world, and No. 1 in Canada. Despite that, the afternoon and shoulder season rate is only Cdn$65. (The peak season rate is $85 plus tax.) Stanley Thompson designed this one, too. By the way, $65 is about average for playing most good courses across Canada.

Q: Who did Tom Watson and Lee Trevino say was as good a ball striker as Ben Hogan?

A: The enigmatic and troubled Moe Norman of Kitchener, Ontario. For more on Moe, track down Tim O'Connor's book The Feeling of Greatness.

Q: Who had the first hole in one at Augusta National?

A: Sandy Somerville of London, Ontario. He also won the 1932 U.S. Amateur, defeating defending champion Francis Ouimet, among others.

Q: What's the oldest golf club (not course) in North America?

A: Royal Montreal was established in 1873.

Q: This is the centennial edition of the Canadian Open. When was it first played?

A: Duh.

Q: OK, where was it played in 1904 and where will it be played this year?

A: Royal Montreal was the first venue. This year, Glen Abbey, just west of Toronto, will play host to the 100th Canadian Open from Sept. 9 to 12. It will be the 23rd time Glen Abbey has been the venue for the PGA Tour event.

Q: In 1966, what Canadian defeated Deane Beman, who would go on to be PGA Tour commissioner, to win the first of his two U.S. Amateurs?

A: Gary Cowan of Kitchener, Ont.

Q: Who is the oldest person to win a USGA championship?

A: Marlene Stewart Streit of Unionville, Ontario, won her third U.S. Senior Women's Amateur last September at the age of 69.

Q: If and when golf is welcomed back into the Olympics, who will be the defending champion?

A: George S. Lyon of Toronto was the medalist the last time golf was contested as an individual Olympic sport -- in 1904.

Q: Where and when did Arnold Palmer win his first PGA Tour title?

A: At the 1955 Canadian Open, held at the Weston G&CC in Toronto.

Q: Which country has the highest golf participation rate per capita in the world?

A: About 20 per cent of Canadians play the game, according to the Royal Canadian Golf Association.

Q: Which country wants you to spend your next golf vacation there?

A: Have you been paying attention? See you on the tee, eh?

Canadian associate editor John Gordon is working on his eighth golf book, The Great Golf Courses of Canada (Volume 4). Previous works include The Grand Old Game: A Century of Golf in Canada.

John Gordon has been involved fulltime with golf since he became managing editor of Score, Canada's Golf Magazine, in 1985. In 1991, he was recruited by the Royal Canadian Golf Association to create their Member Services and Communications departments, and to revive Golf Canada magazine, their national membersmagazine which had been defunct for a decade. After successfully relaunching Golf Canada and serving as its inaugural editor, he was named executive director of the Ontario Golf Association. He returned to fulltime writing in 1995.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • With a rack

    Thiago daLuz wrote on: Mar 20, 2013

    Real men golf with a roof rack in Toronto. Strap those clubs to the roof and drive to the range displaying their golfer pride. Now, with this lesson, their manliness will be complete!