Flagstick Shootout – A Fan’s Perspective

This past weekend was the fourth annual Flagstick Golf Magazine Amateur Shootout, a premier amateur golf event held at Smuggler’s Glen Golf Course in Ganaoque, Ontario.

The tournament moved to a fully invitational format this year after being a relatively open event for the past few seasons. After trimming the applicants from over 130 to 90, the field was set and organized into three flights of players.

No. 3 at Smuggler’s Glen

There was a buzz in the air for this edition as a new incentive was added to the already-generous prizing. An exemption into the new Canadian Tour event The Great Waterway Classic – set to also be played at Smuggler’s Glen during the week of September 3, 2012 – would also be awarded to the winner.

I was invited to attend by Scott Macleod, Editorial Director of Flagstick Magazine and one of the smartest guys in the business I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with. I also invited my girlfriend, Steph, to come along for the weekend as well.

Golfers had the option to stay across the road for the weekend at the Glen House Resort & Spa (I add in the ‘spa’ part as this was a great selling factor for me to get Steph to come along). The Glen House is a quaint, 75-room resort that has been on the shores of the St. Lawrence for 100 years. It features regular rooms, suites and cottages, along with two pools, tennis courts, beach volleyball, boat rentals, and a first-class restaurant.

Smuggler’s Glen was nominated as The Best New Course in Canada by Golf Digest in 2006.  Despite the copious rounds played through a season, golf course superintendent Jason Boyce keeps the course in pristine condition and Doug Wark – a 1000 Islands Native – keeps things running smoothly as the Director of Golf Operations.

After arriving at the course, there was a palpable buzz in the air as the first groups came through their front-9. The weather was excellent – perhaps a result of everyone’s’ collective wish that the weatherman would be wrong in his prediction for a thunderstorm-filled weekend. I was lucky enough to finally meet Jeff Bauder, the publisher of Flagstick Magazine, along with Wark, who said the course had hosted five events in six days. He had prepped the fairways and greens the day before and the morning-of the tournament in order to get ready to host the premier amateur tournament in the region.

From there began my tour of the course, riding shotgun in a cart with Scott – touring around the tournament-specific layout of Smuggler’s Glen. A slight variation of the traditional layout, which saw a re-order of the first couple holes in order to ease the golfers into the challenge.

We posted up for a long while on the tee of no.12, where he introduced me to many of the players and, unfortunately, saw many stripe their drives down the middle only to have their shot gobbled up by a bunker, strategically sitting about 295 yards from the tee.

The leader after day one was 19-year-old Clayton Presant, a Kingston native who recently signed with Limestone College in South Carolina to play golf. He shot a sizzling 68 for a 4-under total, and a three-stroke lead over four other golfers, including defending champion Dwight Reinheart.

Looking up and down the leaderboard after the first day seemed like a who’s who of Eastern Ontario golf, which essentially, should be what the leaderboard of a premier event looks like.

The second and final day included a re-shuffle of players according to their scores on the first day. However, the leader stayed the same with Presant keeping his lead through the day, eventually finishing with a two-day total of 140, or 4-under. He ended up being two shots clear of runner-up Sean Lackey, who, thanks to Presant’s school commitments, would be the one to take the exemption for The Great Waterway Classic in September.

The weekend wasn’t all about golf though, as a dinner hosted at The Glen House provided for much camaraderie. Apparently The Glen House is famous for their prime rib. Not kidding. Literally the largest cuts of prime rib I have ever seen in my life, and according to the others at our table who managed to actually complete it, not a dish to be missed.

For me personally, it was a great opportunity to put many faces to Twitter handles. Having followed many of the guys in the tournament for a while, it must have been funny to see more than a handful of semi-awkward pointing and introductions, despite knowing a lot about each other already. Hearing about each of their experiences through the day was great, but a common theme was how impressed everyone was with both the golf course and the tournament set up.

I was particularly happy to have met Mike Doyon, the regional manager for Nike Golf Canada. From what I understand, Mike worked tirelessly to get a great set of swag together for all the competitors and acts as the main point-of-contact for Nike for many of the golfers in the region.

Overall, the two-day event could not have turned out better. The weather held off for the competitors and a new, young champion was crowned. The resort was also a great place for golfers and non-golfers alike.

With the Ottawa Citizen dropping their sponsorship of the Ottawa Citizen Amateur after 11 years, it appears that the Flagstick Shootout will take its place as the top amateur tournament in the Ottawa Valley. And next year, the Flagstick Shootout looks to celebrate its fifth anniversary in style with arguably the most anticipated event in its short history.

I’m already looking forward to it.


Dear Tiger – Come Back Soon?

Originally Posted April 17th/2011 – http://www.flagstick.com/editorsdesk/?p=1756


After sitting through approximately six hours of Masters television coverage on Sunday, along with refreshing my Twitter stream every chance I had, I feel as though suffering through a Masters hangover that’s lasted until now is justified.

We had drama, we had intrigue, and we had suspense. We had shot-making, heart-breaking, life-changing.

And then, we had a winner.

Charl Schwartzel?

No disrespect to the man. It’s not like you can go around Augusta National like you had an actual hangover and win the green jacket. Schwartzel chipped-in from 100 feet on no.1 to make birdie. Then he stroked a wedge from 120 yards out for an eagle on no. 2.

Game on.

He made four straight birdies to end his round and ripped the green jacket from the clutches of seven men who held the lead at some point that Sunday faster than Shooter McGavin did to Happy Gilmore.

Globally, golf is at its strongest point ever. For the first time in the history of the game, since they were defined as such, there is not a single American who holds one of golf’s major titles. Two of the last three major champions have been South Africans, both products of Ernie Els’ elite school which trains potential South African golfers for greatness.

Kids of all walks of life are now taking up the game. It’s more accessible than ever thanks to some programs implemented around the world. But there was one man who was able to take golf and cross-generationally, monumentally, and inspirationally bring it to the masses.

Tiger Woods was right there on Sunday. He was almost back.

Facebook and Twitter were abuzz with updates as he took the lead at 4:00 pm. The last time he co-lead a major, I don’t even think Twitter was popular.

He did almost everything he needed to do to win, including shooting his lowest final round ever at The Masters (67) and pulled a whole group of non-believers back to the edge of their collective couches. He made golf interesting again for even the casual fan for a few glorious hours.

Tiger has never won a major coming from even one stroke behind, let alone seven. But before you know it, he’s shot a front-nine 31 and has fist-pumped and swore his way back into our hearts.

Earlier, I mentioned that golf was at its best, globally. But culturally? We need Tiger back. Out of the past 10 major champions, only one (Phil Mickelson) has gone on to win a tournament again. The past 10 major champions have also all been different.

No dominance.

No streaks.

A lot of question marks.

Take Schwartzel for example. To borrow a line from the legendary Rick Reilly – “[…] Who knows if we’ll ever see HIM again. He seems like a work in progress. Even his first name is unfinished.”

For every Tiger Woods, there is another Louis Oosthuizen. For every Nick Faldo, Tom Watson, and Jack Nicklaus there is a Paul Lawrie, Shaun Micheel, and Michael Campbell.

Look no further than television ratings and now, social media monitors. The world loves to see someone dominate, even if this past week was just a tease.

The days of Arnie’s Army and Jack’s Pack (I just made that one up, but it has a nice ring to it) were the first glory years of golf.

Then we had the first real taste of international success with Seve and José and Sir Nick and Bernhard and Norman and Price.

Then a skinny, half-African-American, half-Asian 21-year-old trumped The Masters field by 12 strokes in 1997.

“Hello, world” indeed.

Give me Tiger Woods beating the field by 15 against a Lucas Glover/Ricky Barnes playoff any day. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks that.

Schwartzel can keep his jacket. But for the rest of us, we’ll keep those Sunday moments where, for just a little while, we could believe in dominance once more.