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Angus Glen North and the RCGA

Here is the first of two sidebars that were supposed to be included with the recent Score magazine story about the innerworkings of the RCGA entitled “Behind Closed Doors.” The two sidebars were cut for space concerns….

Among the most contentious issues the RCGA has faced in recent years is the decision to use Angus Glens North Course for the 2007 Canadian Open.

The course was not well received when David Duval, Mike Weir, Vijay Singh and Sergio Garcia teed it up in 2001 for a made-for-TV skins game just before the course officially opened. That event was probably not an accurate assessment of the courses potential “ especially considering the event, which is run by sports marketing giant IMG, is set up to make scoring as easy as possible.

However, concerns about the facilitys wide fairways and player friendly design continued to circulate until it was announced PGA Tour star Davis Love III would renovate the course for next years Canadian Open.

But like many things involving the RCGA, the message that Love would rework the golf course was not communicated to some involved parties, including the courses Canadian co-designer, Doug Carrick. As opposed to hearing about the work from course owner Gordon Stollery or Stephen Ross, Carrick (who worked alongside Jay Morrish) read in the Toronto Star that his work would be overhauled by Love.

Ross says he has spoken with Carrick many times about the issue, adding the RCGA has no influence over Angus Glen, a public golf course owned by Gordon Stollery, despite its partnership with the facility to host at least two Canadian Opens.

As far as Doug, Ive talked to Doug many times, Ross says. His problem should be with Gordon Stollery. We did not hire Davis Love III. Im not sure Gordon Stollery has hired Davis Love. But if he has “ it is an agreement with Gordon and Davis.

However, Ross doesnt hide his enthusiasm for the decision to use Love, going as far as to say, we wanted a player as popular as Davis to be behind these changes.

But we never imposed a role that Doug Carrick would play or should play in it. If Doug is frustrated with the RCGA, thats just unfair, Ross concludes.

From Carricks perspective, he is upset no one felt the need to tell him his course would go under the knife by a PGA Tour player.

It is Gords golf course and the RCGAs Open, but it is still disappointing, he says. I dont know who actually made the decision. Gord says it was Stephen and Stephen says it was Gord. Maybe Ill never know.

The issue over the role Canadian golf designers should play in the Canadian Open boiled over onto another Stollery project “ the new course in Terrebonne, Quebec, that is scheduled to host the 2008 Canadian Open, as well as several others in years to come.

Noted U.S. designer Tom Fazio was picked to create the new course, and soon after the course was announced, Canadian golf architect Thomas McBroom lambasted the RCGA for its decision to use an American to design the site that will be home to many Canadian Opens.

Ross says it was always his organizations intent to try to involve a Canadian course designer, though admittedly it was not McBroom. Rather, Ross says he wanted Montreal designer Graham Cooke to build the course. But Ross says Stollery and his partner, Michael Columbos, were resistant to the idea and were determined to use Fazio.

Stollery contends the RCGA was never particularly interested in Canadian course architects and says the organization had its sights set on a noted designer from Ohio.

The RCGAs position was they wanted to use Jack Nicklaus, says Stollery. They never suggested a Canadian. We interviewed Nicklaus and I think he would have been terrific, but we felt more comfortable with Fazio. It would have been great to have a Canadian architect involved, but Fazio is the number one architect in the world for a reason.

Interestingly, despite his comments about Canadian golf architects, Ross said there is a need to use an American name that PGA Tour players will recognize. His comments contrast sharply with his stated desire to support Canadian golf architects.

But from a pure marketing position as we sell the Canadian Open worldwide, we need a Fazio, a Jack Nicklaus “ a top level, world class, recognized golf architect involved, he explains. Who is Tom McBroom to Tiger Woods, Davis Love III? Who is he? Who is Tom Fazio? And as we sell the golf design going in, the architect is critical to what we are trying to do.

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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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