When Canadian Nick Taylor arrived at Oakdale Golf and Country Club’s par-3 14th, playing one of the best rounds of his career, understandably got a thunderous ovation.
Only this ovation sounded different from what you typically hear on the PGA Tour.
Instead of fans in the front row around the tee box clapping their hands, they were slapping the boards around the hole like a hockey rink.
And it was pretty awesome.
It seems a lot of PGA Tour events are now trying to copy what’s working at WM Phoenix Open’s iconic stadium hole par-3.
While no Tour event has replicated the massive scale of the grandstands at TPC-Scottsdale’s 16th, which have swelled to seat more than 17,000 fans, last month’s AT&T Byron Nelson debuted the 6,000-seat Ranch17.
While imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, there’s something to be said about how this week’s RBC Canadian Open has adapted to the stadium hole concept to honor the only PGA Tour event played north of the border.
The tee box on the 14th this week is surrounded by walls made to look like the ones of a hockey rink on the hole that has been dubbed “The Rink.” While there’s no plexiglass barrier for the fans to bang on as they would typically for the country’s national sport, it seems perfectly appropriate for the fans to adjust by reaching over and slapping the walls.
To add to the theme, marshalls and volunteers on the hole are decked in hockey referee gear.
When Taylor dropped his tee shot to seven feet and subsequently made the birdie putt to get to eight under for the day and take the outright lead for the first time at 10 under, the Canadian faithful went nuts. You can bet there were a lot of red hands afterward too.
This isn’t the first year of “The Rink.” It was originally conceived in 2017 as a way to combine two of Canada’s most popular sports, golf and ice hockey. That week, the ropes at Glen Abbey’s 7th hole were subbed out for the boards and the tee markers were even replaced with hockey helmets.
Since then, it’s been a unique staple to the Canadian Open that both fans and players have loved.
“It’s been a great deal ever since it started,” Mackenzie Hughes said Thursday. “It’s been really fun. I know the Canadians really get behind it because it’s kind of putting our favorite pastime in the limelight and just so it’s been really cool.”
Moments after Taylor came through the 14th, another Canadian, the only one to win a men’s major, got his own special moment at “The Rink.”
Mike Weir, the 2003 Masters Champion and International Presidents Cup captain when the matches return to the Great White North next fall, was serenaded with the Canadian national anthem as he waited to tee off.
And of course, as the crowd finished the rendition, there wasn’t any applause, but the chorus of banging that returned again. Whoever thought a golf tournament would sound like a hockey game?