AROUND THE GREENS: Sundre Golf Club back in the spotlight as host of the 2022 Alberta Open

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Many have made the mistake of browsing the Sundre Golf Club scoreboard and thinking they can tear the place apart.

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At just 6,778 yards, big boppers immediately dream of piloting, cornering, birdie, repeat.

It’s rarely that simple.

As 2022 Alberta Open Championship trophy hunters will surely be reminded this week, the key to going down to Sundre is more about precision than aggression. While certainly not the longest layout, the measurement that matters is that some of these fairways are only around 30-35 yards wide, with timber on each side.

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As Dane Thorogood, General Manager of Sundre and one of the local club’s hopefuls on the course for Alberta Golf’s flagship event, summed it up: “You need precision to play well here.

Indeed, you do.

Most of those who qualified for the latest installment of the Alberta Open – as always, featuring a mix of top pros and amateurs from across the province – already know this. Or they are about to find out.

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The three-round shootout takes place Tuesday through Thursday.

“It’s more of a traditional tree-protected course, which can be protected by the pin placements, protected by the rough,” said Thorogood, who oversees a pair of popular tracks – Sundre and Greywolf at Panorama, in British Columbia – as GM for Totem Golf. “You’re kind of forced to play golf the way it should be, before all the new technology.

“When people think of championship golf courses, they think of 7,500 yards and a bunch of 500-yard Par-4s. That’s not what we have in Sundre, but it’s been proven over the years that you don’t need that to have a tough tournament, because the scores are never ridiculously low.

Since its purchase and renovation by Totem Group in 2006, this rural hangout has become one of Alberta’s favorites, especially thanks to its well-deserved reputation for superb conditioning.

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Even the average handicapped will feel like they can do a bunch of birdies in Sundre – and you can. There’s a fun factor there.

But there’s also a fear factor, a recognition that any sloppy or stupid decision will leave you scrambling to save a bogey or worse.

Whether you’re trying to win a provincial title or just vying for bragging rights with your buddies, keeping the ball out of the forest and on the fairway is crucial.

You will need to be comfortable with your flat stick and able to get up and down from a tricky spot.

You might have to remember that iconic hook that Bubba Watson hit on the pine straw in a sudden death knockout at the 2012 Masters… Yeah, you probably can’t pull off that. It’s wise to aim sideways and focus on the short stuff.

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“I think it surprises a lot of people how difficult it is,” said Scott Shouldice, director of golf at Sundre – located about an hour north of Calgary’s city limits – and one of the pros. competing this week for a $25,000 share. prize purse. “It’s not very long, but I think you can be punished badly for bad shots and it’s not easy around the greens either. So it’s a good challenge.

“I think this course requires a lot of strategy with club selection off the tee and then short play, just around the greens. It’s not just about bombing the ball where you want. You have to play smart and you have to keep your ball in play.”

The 2022 Alberta Open tee sheet is missing some usual favorites due to a scheduling conflict with Game 100 of the PGA Championship of Canada, which is essentially a major event for top clubs and players. teaching professionals. Riley Fleming and Wes Heffernan, who combined to win nine titles at Alberta Golf’s annual showdown, are among those in Toronto instead. (Fleming, an instructor at Lynx Ridge, is the defending Alberta Open and PGA Championship of Canada champion.)

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One guy who knows the recipe for success in Sundre is Dustin Risdon, who now offers classes in nearby Water Valley. He holds the course record at 8-under 64 – his last lap in a mad dash at the PGA of Alberta’s Tour Championship in 2016 – and also prevailed when this small-town setup last hosted the Alberta Open in 2017. He signed for a two-round total of 5 under at that tournament.

It is always difficult to predict the name that will end up at the top of the rankings.

What seems a certainty as Sundre plays host to some of the best birders in the Wild Rose Province is that it will be a long week for a wild thing. It will be a direct shooter who will eventually go home with the trophy.

“Somebody with a sharp short game and a head off the shoulders off the tee is who’s going to win,” Thorogood said.

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