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Short Game: Canadian Open venue a soft target

Hamilton Golf and Country Club

Hamilton Golf and Country Club was one of the easier courses on the PGA Tour this year, new numbers from the tour confirm.

The host venue for the RBC Canadian Open this year played to an average score of 69.593 over the four rounds, 0.407 strokes below its par of 70.

That made the venerable Harry Colt layout in Ancaster, Ont., the 32nd most difficult course among the 49 used on the tour this year. Or put another way, the 18th easiest.

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Scott Piercy of the United States won with a score of 17-under-par 263, tying a tournament record. He put himself on the path to the title with an opening-round 62, a course record.

He and the rest of the field enjoyed soft, receptive conditions created by storms on the weekend before the competitive rounds. The course's relatively short length of 6,966 yards (just eight of the 49 tracks were less than 7,000 yards) made Hamilton even more vulnerable.

But the Canadian course wasn't alone in being a pushover for the world's best players. More than half of the 2012 venues (27) played to an average score below par. The easiest was the Nicklaus course at PGA West, one of the layouts used in the Human Challenge. It played 2.8007 strokes below par.

At the other end of the scale, the Olympic Club in San Francisco was the toughest, playing to a staggering 3.844 shots above its par of 70. No surprise perhaps. It staged the U.S. Open, whose venues are traditionally set up to be a stern test of golf.

Kiawah Island Resort's Ocean course, host of the PGA Championship, was the second most difficult, followed by the AT&T National's Congressional Country Club. The entire list can be found here.

On the Champions Tour, the host club of the Montreal Championship was the 13th hardest among the 24 used. The par-72 Vallée du Richelieu had an average score of 72.033.

Turnberry, which held the Senior British Open, was the most difficult.

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The Short Game blog is a compilation of small news stories, statistics and analysis from the wide world of golf, with a focus on Canadian content. Jeff Brooke has written about golf for The Globe and Mail since his first assignment at the 2007 Masters.

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