Story by Grant Fraser
Vacay.ca Golf Writer
LÉVIS, QUEBEC — There is a chill in the air and the ground is wet from all the rain we’ve just had. There’s no one else on the golf course except for the odd deer I see in the forests that line the fairways of La Tempete Golf Club in Lévis, near Quebec City.
Everyone else has retreated to the warm confines of the clubhouse for a hot cup of coffee and dry clothes. Although the weather is more indicative of a spring day in Scotland, nothing was going to deter me from finishing my round at La Tempete as I still had four holes to play. After all, this is where the pros from the PGA Champions Tour would be competing in a few days and I wanted to share the same experience — rain or shine.
If being unable to call it a day and stop playing midway through a round — even when it’s cold and raining — is the measure of a great golf course then the PGA Champions Tour knows a good thing when they see one. That is why they are returning September 3-7 to the province for the 2014 Quebec Championship, presented by Desjardins.
While this may be the fifth year the PGA Champions Tour has come to La Belle Province, it is the first time the event has ventured to Quebec City. Since 2010, the tournament has been held in Montreal (Fountainebleau in 2010, 2011 and Vallee Du Richelieu in 2012, 2013) but given Quebec City’s passion for big-time sporting events, it was just a matter of time before the PGA Champions Tour decided to travel two hours east to the province’s other sporting capital.
La Tempete Golf Club (“The Storm”, en francais) is arguably Quebec City’s best golf course. Designed by Darrell Huxham, this course will surely appeal to the players and fans alike. Sprawled across 200 acres, the La Tempete measures over 7,200 yards from the back tees, but it’s unlikely the members of the 50-plus club who comprise the Champions Tour will be asked to compete from this distance. Not only will the players appreciate this leniency, but so too will the fans who will have ample opportunity to get within an arm’s length of their favourite players and the rest of the game’s all-time greats.
While it’s next to impossible to predict the winning score, it’s a given that the world’s best senior golfers will accumulate plenty of birdies much to the delight of Quebec’s golf enthusiasts who are expected to surpass 50,000 for the week. More than 400 volunteers will also be present to partake in this event.
Golf Greats Prepare to Take on Quebec’s La Tempete
“This is a big deal for Quebec City,” says general manager and PGA of Canada professional Andre Raymond, who has been at La Tempete since the course opened in 2005. “In addition to a great week of golf, we anticipate the economic impact of the tournament to surpass $20 million, a huge benefit for the communities throughout the area.”
When asked to describe the course, Raymond was equally passionate. “We have a unique collection of holes here at La Tempete. Holes 1 through 5 are links style; 6,7 and 12-15 are parkland, and the remaining holes are like playing golf in a stadium. The fairways are generous but don’t mistake that for being easy. The course is a ‘three-in-one experience,’ something we’re sure the pros and fans will really enjoy.”
While the course may have different complexions, the best hole for sheer drama and entertainment is the last one — the 544-yard, par-5 18th. Fittingly, it is here on Sunday that fans will likely see the most excitement as this is a perfect example of what a risk-reward hole should look like. A large lake runs the entire distance along the right side of the hole and large bunkers guard the left side of the fairway. Even for these guys, to reach the green in two shots will require a pair of extraordinary shots — just the way it should be.
“We’re thrilled to be hosting a PGA Champions Tour event in Quebec City for the first time,” says tournament director David Skitt, who has developed many friendships with the tour players and their families since bringing professional golf to Quebec 11 years ago. “This is a world-class event in a great sports town that features the legends of the game. Past champions include Esteban Toledo (2013), Mark Calcavecchia (2012) and John Cook (2011) as well as familiar names like Tom Lehman, Fred Funk and Hale Irwin, the leading tournament winner on the Champions Tour with 45 wins to his credit. We expect this to be the best PGA Champions Tour event we’ve hosted. It just gets better every year.”
That’s saying a great deal, given this tournament was rated the “Fans’ Favourite” on the Champions Tour in 2012, and also won Quebec’s prestigious “Event of the Year” award in the same year.
In total, 81 players will compete over three days (the first two are Pro-Am days) for a total purse of $1.6 million and first prize money of $240,000. Unlike a regular PGA TOUR event, there is no cut so fans can enjoy the guys they grew up watching from start to finish. In addition, 240 Charles Schwab points will be awarded to the winner as players compete for the tour’s year-end prize of $1 million.
Now that the PGA Champions Tour has arrived in Quebec City, I expect it will grow roots and stay for a while.
MORE ABOUT PGA CHAMPIONS TOUR
Location: Golf La Tempete is located at 151 Rue des Trois-Manoirs Sainte-Helene-De-Breakeyville, QC (see map below)
Website: The course’s website is www.golflatempete.com
Tickets: Can be purchased by visiting the PGA TOUR website at www.championstourquebec.com.
Prices: Start at $20 Wednesday or Thursday for the Pro-Am rounds, $40 for Round 1 on Friday. If you can’t be here to see all the action, TV coverage will be provided September 5-7 by the Golf Channel, which expects over 100 million viewers from 200 countries to tune in to the broadcast.
Where to Stay: If you’re coming from out of town, a great place to stay is the Bonne Entente Hotel, a short 20-minute drive from the golf course. Don’t be surprised if you see a few players hanging out in the lobby as many of them will be staying here.