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RCGA Adds New COO, Deals with CanOpen Golf Range Issue

It has been a long time coming, but the Royal Canadian Golf Association today announced a new chief operating officer, with Peter Beresford replacing Rick Desrochers, who apparently remains in a position called “senior director, corporate planning.” Beresford is going to lead “development and implementation of all of the RCGAs strategic Membership and Brand Development efforts.”

Here’s some background on Beresford:

Beresford, a former senior global executive with McDonalds Corporation, joins the RCGA after two years serving in an advisory role on a RCGAs strategic planning and membership task forces. Beresford will work directly with the RCGA executive management team to redefine the RCGA’s Membership Development and Brand Awareness strategies.

We are very pleased to welcome Peter Beresford to the RCGA as our Chief Operating Officer, said RCGA executive director Scott Simmons.  Peter brings with him two important areas “ he is a renowned Brand expert who has played an instrumental role in developing the McDonalds Brand globally while his senior executive management skills will prove to be a tremendous addition to our senior management team.

I spoke with RCGA Executive Director Scott Simmons today about the appointment. He said a key role for Beresford is driving membership, especially in the public arena. Simmons has long spoken of the need to expand membership outside of the private golf clubs, where it currently exists, and into the public sphere, where the RCGA has had little success. That’s Beresford’s role — and he is apparently a man of the public-playing,  blue-collar wearing, Sunday morning dewsweeper who pays $32 per round. He did work at McDonald’s, after all.

Truthfully, and all faceitiousness aside, maybe Beresford, with his public mass-market background, is exactly what the RCGA needs to sell the public on reasons to support golf. This has been a central issue for Simmons, and one where little ground has been gained in the more than two years he’s helmed the organization.

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There’s been a rumor circulating that the RCGA was reconsidering its plan to use the Eglinton Flats as its range for the 2010 RBC Canadian Open. The flats are located  site 7 km away from St.George’s G&CC. That plan always seemed full of potential problems, the least of which is that moving 7 km in Toronto can take a long time if there are traffic considerations. Top that off with the fact the range should have been built by now, but hasn’t largely due to the outside workers strike in Toronto that would have kept construction crews out of the park. Apparently Simmons happened across someone from Islington Golf & CC, located only 2 km from St. George’s, and asked why the club had not been approached about assisting with the range situation. Simmons then approached the club and worked out cursory arrangement that would cost around $100m000, wheras the price of construction of the range at Eglinton Flats was significantly more.

Simmons says the City of Toronto has been exceptionally helpful when it comes to the Open, but the Islington option makes more sense.

“It is a different option that is closer to [St. George’s],” he explained, adding there’s been “positive member support” for the matter.

Simmons explained the Islington situation is also much easier on the players, who can drive to the course, warm up and be shuttled to St. George’s to play or drive — their choice. Either way, a 2 km jaunt to St. George’s with Islington closed to regular traffic is no big deal. Seven kilometres on the other hand…

This isn’t a done deal yet, but Simmons says a decision will be made by next week.

I’ve long been a big supporter of hosting the Canadian Open at St. George’s, but it is clear the lack of a range is a really significant issue that isn’t easy to overcome. Makes you wonder when — if ever — the tournament will return to Toronto. That said, Eagles Nest GC in Maple and Coppinwood outside Uxbridge would still appear as possible options.

Here’s how I see this playing out:

2010 — St. George’s (announced)

2011 — Shaughnessy (announced)

2012 — Glen Abbey GC (TBD)

2013 — Hamilton G&CC (TBD)

2014 — Montreal course (Royal Montreal, Terrebonne, other??)

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

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