07/22/2016

The Canadian people love golf.

In an interview earlier this week on PGATour.com’s Facebook page, Graham DeLaet, a proud Canadian, talked about the circus around the RBC Canadian Open each year. He touched on the nature of the Canadian fan and how the majority of the spectators in the crowd this week are Canadian, despite sitting short drives from both Detroit and Buffalo in the U.S.

The annual Canadian Open places an unbelievable pressure on Canadian-born players to win each year. Mike Weir has felt it. So did David Hearn last year. DeLaet, also, is not immune from the Canadian suffocation.

So what is it about the Canadians, their golf, their hockey, their moose, and their beer? What is it about their pride? I think I know what it is.

I am originally from Minnesota. Many people consider Minnesotans the little brothers of Canada. In fact, we have a town in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area called “Little Canada.” My cousin lives there. Since much of my family lives there, I’ll use “us/we” to describe Minnesotans. I have a South Dakota driver’s license now, but give me this one. Please.

In Minnesota, we take pride in all things Minnesota. An arctic place of unexplainable cold and suffering for 6 months becomes a paradise of freshwater and summer living for the other. We’re often overlooked. People from Minnesota wear “No Coast” shirts, a way of taking a stabs at the media hotbeds on both the east and the west. It’s a way to exhibit our pride.

It’s known during the winters, we have our hockey. Canada is the same way. Hockey, now a 12-month sport in places like this, offers people an activity of passion over the lost months. It’s a way to make it through, to survive. My best friend Dillon Friday wrote beautifully about the sport, in as Minnesotan of a way possible, back in 2013.

As the ice melts and the trees come back to life, summer takes root. The antithesis to winter: summer. The antithesis to hockey: well, golf.

The number of highly-talented hockey players turned golfers during the summer months is overwhelming. Wayne Gretzky, having formed a life-long bond with the game, is more known now for the status of his current son-in-law than of his hall of fame career. And for a man who loves the game of golf dearly, I doubt he cares.

Where all other sports gain scoff from tough-guy hockey players, golf seems immune. They have embraced the sport into a place of adoration in their hearts. In northern Minnesota, it’s a common sight to see an athletic-build of a mid-20s male enter the clubhouse of a golf course with a polo and a NHL hat. It’s why Minnesota has such respect from the nation, in terms of golf.

So back to Canada, and golf.

With Canada mirroring my homestate in so many ways, I understand the love for golf. I can see why record crowds show up every July when the PGA Tour comes to town. It makes sense why their anthem “Oh, Canada” is heard echoing throughout telecasts each year.

There’s a certain treasure to summer. The fresh, thawed lakes. The green, non-dormant grasses. The uniquely leaf-filled trees. With that, comes golf. My home state of Minnesota understands that. I think Canada does too.