Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Niakwa ready to strut its new stuff

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NIAKWA Country Club has taken its lumps over the past several years as it underwent a massive reconstruction process, but next week the nation's golfing elite will reap the rewards.

All the hard work will be unveiled to the country's top players as the historic course hosts the Canadian Men's Amateur Golf Championship.

Niakwa and Elmhurst Golf and Country Club will host the first two rounds of the event. Following Friday's cut the final 36 holes will be played at Niakwa.

Membership decided to refurbish the Stanley Thompson layout and for many seasons conditions were difficult as greens, tees, bunkers and a few entire holes were reworked.

But now the course is better than ever.

"The course is beautiful and conditions are outstanding despite the lack or rain," said Golf Canada tournament director Brent McLaughlin. "This tournament is the most sought after by clubs in Canada after the Canadian Open. As a result we get courses with rich history and tradition and Niakwa is no different."

Ben Hogan, Miller Barber, Dow Finsterwald, Tony Lema, Al Balding, Billy Casper, Bob Goalby, Charlie Sifford, Doug Ford and Chi Chi Rodriguez, Moe Norman, George Knudson and Sam Snead have played the St. Vital course over the years.

Hogan's lone win on Canadian soil came at Niakwa back in 1946 at the CPGA Championship.

"We want the public to know the event is open to them and admission is free," said head pro Wade Nybakken. "This is a great chance to get close to some of the best golfers in Canada. Fans can walk inside the ropes and listen to the conversations between player and caddy. It's a real unique experience."

The event will feature 240 international entrants.

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 6, 2011 C5

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