Irwin Thrilled To Take Part In His "Masters"

Jordan Irwin at Glencoe Invitational Practice Round

Jordan Irwin Lets One Fly During A Practice Round For The Glencoe Invitational Which Runs June 15 - 17 In Calgary.

CALGARY, Alberta (Gord Montgomery/iG) — For Jordan Irwin there's no place like home ... unless of course he's teeing it up at the Glencoe Invitational.

Irwin, who's won the star-studded amateur event once in his career, said that to him this tournament played on the long and tough Forest Course at the Glencoe Golf & Country Club, is like his Masters and driving into the facility is to him akin to driving down Magnolia Lane.

So while there are no Magnolia trees, no huge crowds and no massive payday at the end of the 54-hole, no-cut tourney, for amateur golfers this is one of those Holy Grail sort of events. As such, it's an event this smooth-swinging righty, who won the Alberta Mid-Am last year, keeps returning year after. Year.

"I guess this sounds really cliche, but I'm not trying to turn pro anymore and I want to continue to play golf at a competitive level for myself. Also, I want to be an example for the younger guys," by introducing them to college scouts who hover around the fairways of this gorgeous track in southwest Calgary, Irwin said of the appeal of this particular event.

Another reason the long hitter from Banff likes the Glencoe Invitational is "it just keeps me motivated all winter long to exercise. I start thinking about this tournament in February, it's that special. It's kind of like, when I drive through the gates it's like Magnolia Lane. It's my Masters every year."

While this is just one of many tourneys for the young guns on the Alberta and Canadian golfing scene, this will be one of only three major events Irwin will tee it up in this year. Included in the list are the Alberta Mid-Am and the Alberta Amateur. And because he's a working stiff, he doesn't get to spend as much time as he'd like working on his game, which puts him in a tough spot when this event rolls around.

"This is my first event of the season. For a lot of the young guys here they've played 10 or 12 college tournaments already this year. It's my first major event but I welcome the challenge, the difficulty of the course," which plays to over 7,500 yards and a slope rating of 144 from the back deck. "It's a real test of golf and lets me know where my game is."

The Forest Course is long with lots of demanding tee shots and the greens while large, are hard to stick to with approach shots, especially with the false fronts and the bunkering that surrounds many of them. That's all part and parcel of the appeal though, says Irwin who noted there are a couple of keys to scoring well here.

"I think the most important thing is to drive it in play. Do that and you have a chance. The second thing is hitting your iron shots the right distance which is really difficult given how firm the greens are."

With no cut in the event that doesn't mean one simply throws caution to the wind.

"You have to play smart," said the former champ. "If the shot suits your eye and is the right distance, you take it on. But you really have to be careful where you land your golf ball. If you fly a shot 10 feet too far sometimes, it's over the back of the green and your chances of making par are very small. If you hit it in the wrong spot, a big number can creep up on you."

In summing up his feelings for this tournament, and this course, Irwin simply said, "I'll be back every year for as long as they'll have me. Like I said, I've been thinking about this tournament since February."

The Glencoe Invitational runs from June 15 - 17 with 57 of the top amateur players from Canada and the U.S. looking for the top prize, which Irwin walked away with in 2008. And that win, to him at least, was just like winning his own version of The Masters.