Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Go ahead: Play The Canadian Open at Glen Abbey

Today is Opening Day at the world-famous Glen Abbey Golf Course in Oakville, Ontario. And, although the weather isn't exactly co-operating today, things are bound to get better. So, let's revisit a few tips now in order to prepare you for your upcoming visit to Glen Abbey.
(First published in The Hamilton Spectator, July 26, 2013.)

The Right Way To Play 
The Canadian Open

A starter's perspective on 
the ins and outs of Glen Abbey

By Eric Kohanik
Special to The Hamilton Spectator 
Welcome to Glen Abbey. My name is Eric and I'm your Starter today. You're going to have a great time.”
For five seasons, I've used those words to introduce countless guests to the first tee of the course that is home to this year's Canadian Open. And as the pros get down to serious competition in Oakville, it should be no surprise that any golfer following the action would get the urge to play the Jack Nicklaus-designed course that is hosting the Open for the 26th time.
As a starter and a play coordinator (that's what marshals are called at Glen Abbey), I've encountered players from around the world who have made the pilgrimage to “The Abbey.” Many are thrilled and even awestruck, as if they are standing on the most hallowed ground.
But there are a few things you need to know when you go to play Glen Abbey.
There are no white tees, for instance. The red tees play 5,346 yards. The blue tees, at 6,224 yards, are usually challenging enough for beginners and those with double-digit handicaps. The gold tees clock in at 6,622 yards, while the black (pro) tees add up to 7,273 yards.
As for the holes, there's a twist. As in 2009, the front nine holes have been reconfigured for the tournament, so things will look different when you play your version of the Canadian Open at Glen Abbey.
To help you out, here's a quick, starter's guide to the course and some of its most memorable (and difficult) holes:

No. 1 (No. 8 at the Open) – Par 5
This hole is simply memorable because it's the first hole you'll play at Glen Abbey. First-timers get excited just standing on the tee box, often snapping photos as souvenirs. The hole is often called an "easy" Par 5. The pros play it as a Par 4 during the Open.

No. 2 (No. 9 at the Open) – Par 4
The No. 1 handicap hole has a big tree that comes into play off the tee. It can be tough to reach the green in only two shots. An extra club is a good idea on the approach, thanks to a sand trap at the left front of the green. The green is also smaller than it appears from the fairway. 

No. 3 (No. 7 at the Open) – Par 3
Wind comes into play, while bunkers and pin placement on the narrow green can easily spell trouble. The hole doesn't look tough, but the pond between the tee and green gobbles up 15,000 golf balls a year. More than a few have been mine.

No. 7 (No. 4 at the Open) – Par 3
Another hole over water that looks easy but isn't. If the wind is brisk, it can mean a difference of two or even three clubs.

No. 9 (No. 6 at the Open)
A pretty finish to the front nine, this Par 4 is similar to the Par 5 that finishes the back. The fairway slopes toward a pond that is in front of the green, so a long drive can be trouble. The hole is ranked as the third toughest on the course. It's also rated as one of the toughest on the PGA Tour.

No. 11 – Par 4
The second-hardest hole is also Glen Abbey's signature hole, and one of the most picturesque golf holes around. An elevated tee leads you down to the first of five valley holes. From the gold tees, it's about a 220-yard carry reach to the fairway (although the elevation does give your shot extra distance). From the blue and red tees, the perfect shot is usually aimed over a large tree on the left side of the fairway. A wide section of 16 Mile Creek runs in front of the green, so your approach may need a lot of carry, too.

No. 13 – Par 5
The mid-way point of the valley, this hole crosses 16 Mile Creek not once but twice. Once you get to the green, things don't necessarily get easier. A deep swale to the left of the green can easily mess up your game. 

No. 14 – Par 4
Ranked as one of the toughest holes on the PGA Tour, this hole plays completely different from the gold and black tees than from the blue and red tees. An undulating green adds to this hole's charm and challenge.

No. 15 Par 3
It's rated as the easiest hole on the course. Uh-huh. Sure. Depending on the pin placement, the elevated, two-tier green could leave you with one of the toughest putts you'll face. 

No. 17 Par 4
There are 17 sand traps adorning this hole. That's right, 17. Oddly enough, the tee shot from the golds actually seems easier than from the blues. A funky, U-shaped green can cap off this adventurous hole in a unique way. 

No. 18 – Par 5
This the home of the famed Tiger Trap, which led to a shot by Tiger Woods during the 2000 Canadian Open that still ranks as one of the most famous in golf history. No wonder a lot of first-time visitors throw a ball in there to try out their 6-irons. 

So, there you have it: a guide to your own version of the Canadian Open. Of course, there are a number of other things every starter will tell you when you play Glen Abbey – things like repairing ball marks on greens, replacing or filling divots on the fairways and always making sure you keep up with the group ahead of you. But then, we'll save those for when you actually get there. 

Eric Kohanik is a freelance writer and former Spectator reporter. 

(First published in The Hamilton Spectator - July 26, 2013.)

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Andrea Martin in "Working The Engels"


Global -- Wednesdays

On Set With "The Engels"

Andrea Martin Is Playing Things
For Laughs Again

By Eric Kohanik

It doesn't happen as often anymore. Every once in a while, though, people still come up and tell Andrea Martin they're surprised she isn't actually a Canadian.

“It used to happen a lot more,” the 67-year-old Martin concedes. “I have a house in Toronto. And my kids were born here. And my career started here, really. I guess I'm a 'landed immigrant.' I consider myself to be a 'North American.' I feel privileged to have worked all over North America.”

Born in Maine, Martin has been surrounded by Canadians for years. She got her big break in Toronto in a 1972 stage production of Godspell that featured such Canadians as Eugene Levy, Victor Garber, Martin Short and Paul Shaffer. After that, she worked with the likes of Dave Thomas and John Candy in the Toronto chapter of Second City. That, in turn, led to a sketch-comedy series called SCTV: Second City Television, where Martin's roster of characters most notably included the indomitable Edith Prickley.

It's been almost 40 years since SCTV first hit TV screens. And Martin admits she often looks back fondly. As for a possible SCTV reunion, Martin waves off the idea.

“It was a special time,” she reflects. “We are all very protective of what we accomplished then.”
Martin has assembled many credits since those days – on TV, in movies and on stage. She is now back on TV in Working The Engels, a comedy series for Global that was also picked up in the U.S. by NBC.

The chance to do TV again was something Martin had been thinking about for a while. “I had spent a lot of time on Broadway doing Pippin,” she says. Her work as the title character's grandmother, Berthe, in the revival of the play won a Tony Award last year for best performance by a featured actress in a musical.

“Before that, I had done my one-woman show on stage,” Martin continues. “Doing all of that for such a long time was exhausting, so I was looking for something different. But I wasn't sure how long I would be able to be in Toronto. Then, this came along and it all worked out.”

Working The Engels is a broad comedy that casts Martin as Celia “Ceil” Engel, the matriarch of a family left in the lurch when Ceil's husband dies and leaves his law firm without a leader. Fortunately for Ceil, her youngest daughter, Jenna (Kacey Rohl), is qualified to run the practice. Unfortunately for Jenna, Ceil insists on working there, too. So do Jenna's pill-popping sister (Azura Skye) and her bad-boy brother (Benjamin Arthur).  

For Rohl, whose credits include mostly dramatic roles in such series as Hannibal and The Killing, the chance to tackle something comedic was a dream. “There aren't a lot of comedy productions in Vancouver,” the 22-year-old B.C. actress says. As for working with Martin, Rohl beams: “I've been like a sponge. I've learned so much.”

Meanwhile, Martin has lots of praise for her co-stars. “The chemistry was there instantly,” she says.

On this particular day, the show is near the half-way point in its 12-episode production schedule. Martin and Skye have been blocking out a hip-hop routine for an episode, improvising something different for every take. In the director's chair, trying to piece it all together, is none other than Jason Priestley.

Working The Engels also has an impressive guest roster in front of the camera for its debut season. Among the pack: Short, Levy, Jayne Eastwood, Colin Mochrie, Jennifer Irwin and Wendy Crewson.

Having familiar friends come back to work with her is something special for Martin.

It also makes her feel like things have come full circle.

“I feel almost like I've gone back to the beginning of my career,” Martin smiles. “We used to shoot SCTV at Global; this is for Global. I used to drive myself to the studio then; I drive myself to the studio now. Not much has changed in 40 years.”

Working The Engels – Global – Wednesdays 

(First published in Channel Guide Magazine -- April 2014.)

Paul Campbell stars in Spun Out


CTV -- Fridays

Spun Out

Star Paul Campbell Hammers Away At His Career -- In More Ways Than One

By Eric Kohanik

Paul Campbell never thought he would be an actor.

“To be perfectly honest, my whole life, I thought I was going to be a carpenter,” the 34-year-old Spun Out star explains. “I started right out of high school. I started framing houses. But Vancouver is rainy eight months out of the year, and I got sick of being cold and wet.”

Born and raised in B.C., Campbell now divides his time between Canada and Los Angeles. And he likes to display his skills in some surprising ways.

If you want proof, check out the tongue-in-cheek mini-biography Campbell wrote about himself on It's a clever entry that claims he made a deal with the Devil when he was 18 to trade his soul for a hammer.

“I still can't believe that one slipped by them,” Campbell laughs. “One of the biggest moments of my entire career is getting that bio up on IMDb.”

One of the other big moments right now is Spun Out, a CTV comedy series that revolves around Campbell as a copywriter at a public-relations firm populated by a quirky collection of characters. The show's ensemble includes Al Mukadam, Holly Deveaux, Rebecca Dalton, J. P. Manoux and Darcy Michael. Dave Foley rounds out the cast as the boss of the firm.

“Foley is such a pro,” Campbell says. “He walked into it like he'd been doing it for a million years. He is such a veteran and he is such a great member of the team. Just simply observing him, I probably learned more than I ever could taking any sort of acting classes.”

Nevertheless, it was a simple acting class that changed Campbell's career path.

“A friend of mine was taking some acting classes and said, 'Hey, this is really fun. You should come and do this,'” he recalls. “So, I took an acting class and that was it. I went back to work the next week and said, 'Guys, I'm packing up my tools and going to theatre school.' And I did.”

Six months after graduation, he landed his first major TV role, in the 2004 reincarnation of Battlestar Galactica. A steady stream of other credits have followed, including roles in NBC's 2008 revival of Knight Rider and a 2011 series for Showcase called Almost Heroes. Although that show was also a comedy, Spun Out is the first TV series Campbell has done in front of a studio audience.

“It's the first time I've done it for an extended period,” he says. “It really is the most thrilling way to do comedy. What excited me about this project is I love the idea of Canadians making great comedy. There is so much great talent in Canada. I was really, really happy to get on board.”

Campbell wasn't on any particular quest to do a sitcom when Spun Out came along. He was basically looking for his next job. “That's the life of an actor,” Campbell points out. “You're always looking for the next thing." 

That hasn't dulled his passion for acting, though. “Every day that I'm on set is my favourite day,” Campbell says. “I've never had a day that I wasn't thrilled to be working, whether it was a dramatic piece or a TV-movie or a big film. It doesn't matter where I am and who I'm working with. I love my job. I love what I do.”

That's not to say Campbell has given up carpentry. “I still love woodworking,” he concedes. “I do it all the time.”

In fact, since Spun Out wrapped production on its debut season, Campbell has been honing his craftsmanship down in L.A. “I build furniture,” he says. “And I build custom skateboards for people. Just sort of whatever interests me at the time.”

Spun Out – CTV – Fridays

(First published in Channel Guide Magazine -- April 2014.)