It’s been a special week for Harmony. Legendary golfer Phil Mickelson and his team paid a visit to the area to inspect progress on Mickelson National Golf Club and make a rare in-person appearance with media and members of Windmill Golf Group’s fine courses.
It was a hard secret to keep but our team found out last month that Phil was planning to visit. His goal, to get a first look at the stunning course that will bear not only his name, but contain his personal touches. Mickelson National Golf Club has already started construction on the Harmony lands, and on Wednesday Phil, along with Phil Mickelson Design and Windmill Golf Group representatives, could be spotted out on the course, working with the design team and the course sculptors (yes- they really are artists that meticulously move large amounts of dirt) to capture the experience of each hole.
Phil is very hands on with this course, and was assessing each hole’s unique vantage points, bunker positions and tee box locations to ensure this would be the ultimate experience for its players.
Thursday morning, Phil held a press event to discuss his thoughts on the course, alongside Barry Ehlert, owner of Windmill Group and Rick Smith – Phil’s longtime friend and golf design partner.Rick spoke about the course and how he and Phil have worked hard on the design of it.
“We have big, big aspirations for this golf course; it’s going to be really special,” Smith said. “We have put a lot of time and energy into it. Phil and I, we’ve worked on a lot of the routing and design concepts of every hole; every hole is going to be very unique.” We’ve assembled the Triple A team – very talented people – to help see the vision of this golf course” said Smith. Mike Angus, one of Mickelson’s golf design directors made the trip along with Phil’s manager and former coach, Steve Loy.
Phil’s passion for every detail of this course made it clear that Mickelson National is being built by a professional of the highest caliber who is personally invested in making this the best course it can be for the greater community.
“It was important to get out here early enough where we start grading, we’re on the same page,” he said. “That way, when we get to the fine tuning, we don’t have a lot of big changes; it’s just subtle nuances that we have to create. The details of this project are ultimately what will make it special and unique. We were given a blank canvas, and as long as we put in the thought and effort to come at it from all different angles I think we’re going to create something that will be enjoyable for the average guy to play and challenging for the tour player. And in addition an enjoyable experience for the spectators that come out and watch.” said Mickelson.
Spectators? Oh yes… Phil enticed the media, stating that this course will be as much fun for the 25-handicapper as it will be for the pro golfer , important to note considering this course has been talked about being a future Canadian Open PGA tour stop. When asked about it, Phil and Barry both spoke about how the course isn’t being built specifically for a PGA Tour event, but to give the private course a friendly, family atmosphere.
“The key for us is to not put the cart before the horse,” said Barry Ehlert. “We want to get the golf course built. From my experience… we’re probably going to make some tweaks and changes in the first year or two to make sure that the golf course can really host those types of events.”
“We want families, we want kids, we want older players, we want men and women to play this game and enjoy this golf course,” Mickelson added.
So how does the Mickelson National plan to appeal to the common golfer, and still be PGA level?
“The majority of all golfers do not have the physical ability to fly the ball over a hazard and stop the ball on a green,” Mickelson said. “People enjoy links golf because you can run balls up, run it onto the green, and that was an important thing on every hole here; to have the ground contain the ball and help get it up to the green as opposed to deflecting off into trouble.”It’s when you manage to get near or onto the green that you will be tested: “Then we will create the difficulties around the green,” said Mickelson. ” That’s where we can hide pins and make it challenging for the top player.”
Another design feature about Mickelson National is having bunkers in play for the top level players, but farther ahead so that the average Joe could never reach them. Mickelson’s team also realized that junior golfers are paramount for the future of the game; as such there are plans to make Mickelson National a course that young golfers will enjoy playing with mom or dad.
“We will have a designated area levelled out that gives a kid a run-up shot onto the green. In the grading process of the course, there will be tee boxes for kids to tee off from and play, while mom and dad play from their respective tee boxes. This gives a kid a chance to keep score and not hold up play.” Phil was very adamant that the course be constructed as a family friendly development.
It seems the team at Phil Mickelson design really has thought of just about everything.
Even the clubhouse is designed to be a hub of activity for year-round use. Plans include a year-round practice area in the lower level of the clubhouse, complete with range, short game and bunker area, and a row of golf simulators! Members will even be able to toboggan on the course itself when conditions are right!
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