For the golf aficionado, the new Mickelson National course just outside of Calgary is a real treat. The Windmill Group, which offers six high-end courses in Alberta, partnered with golf great Phil Mickelson to create his first signature course in Canada. Phil is a leftie, so the course has been set up with left-handed players in mind.
The 18-hole course is billed as a private course, but is currently open to the public for one more year. It features challenges you won’t find on any other Alberta course – rolling hills on the fairways, a large number of bunkers and water features and greens that complement the rolling fairways.
Just one look from the first tee and you know this is something different. Do you want to hit high to the left to get to the green, or follow the lower valley with a high shot to the green? Both options are available on the first tee and on several others, giving players with varying levels of ability a welcome option. Phil is a master of the short game, so chipping and putting puts those skills – or lack thereof – to the test. Watch for the abyss along holes three and eight. Stray too far off the fairway and your shot is gone. Plus, there is a large, continuous sand trap between those two holes. Yet another challenge!
The Mickelson National course isn’t full service yet. A portable trailer serves as the clubhouse, check-in and food service. However, we understand the clubhouse and practice facilities will be open this coming season (2021). Obviously there are areas that need more attention to make this a truly professional-level course, but we were impressed with how the course plays, which can only improve as time goes on.
The placement of the bunkers and water hazards forces one to focus on performing perfectly placed drives. We chuckled among ourselves while watching one poor soul in the foursome ahead of us hit from one trap to another. I’m sure he was at par before getting halfway to the green. There is some forgiveness on the fairways, but for the most part accuracy is essential.
Your short game will get a workout as each green offers a rollercoaster of challenging slopes that make reading the greens a guessing game. It’s clear a great deal of thought has gone into the design.
We were very impressed with how much fun the coarse is and what it offers so far, and we expect that each year as trees grow and changes are made, time will give this course much to consider as a destination for those who want to experience something special closer to home. For now, the course will offer tee times to the public, and we hope this remains the case for the next couple of seasons.
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