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Around the course

Here’s some comments and links on things I’ve read and encountered while reporting in the last few days:

A couple of days ago, Bob Weeks had this short note on his blog:

This year, Matt McQuillan of Kingston, Ont., will get to play out of Bond Head, make use of the bed and breakfast facility to stay, use the range, get some professional assistance from a team of advisors and, best of all, get some money to help them on Tour.

This struck me as interesting because of a comment by Canadian Tour commisioner Rick Janes about the state of Canadian golf. He pointed out that the RCGA and Canada spends a lot of money training our golfers, but once they turn pro they are cut loose. He used McQuillan as an example, because even though he won last year, apparently he was having a tough time raising the cash to play on the Canadian Tour this year. In fact, he hasn’t played at all, despite winning the Telus Open in Edmonton last year. Matt was a rising junior star 10 years ago when I worked at the paper in his hometown of Kingston. Let’s hope the Bond Head arrangement helps get him back out on tour.

By the way, Janes told me last year that Canada was in danger of becoming a “third world” golf county and he repeated it last week when we met for lunch.

How difficult is the current market for private courses? In researching a story for the National Post’s FP Weekend section that was published on Saturday, the answer is really tough. Thornhill GM Rob Dawes told me there are currently a total of 300 people on waiting lists for GTA private clubs — a number that has fallen dramatically in recent years. Most of that list is held by Rosedale, Toronto GC and St. George’s, as even Hamilton’s waiting list has apparently fallen.

“Like everything else, private golf courses need to be in step with the expectations of the marketplace,” says Rob Dawes, general manager of Thornhill Golf and Country Club, just north of Toronto. “We’re seeing what I call ‘lifestyle attrition.’ People who typically held private club memberships are moving away from the city, and we’ve got to do everything we can to attract new members.”

That’s going to make it difficult on new courses like Coppinwood, as well as for Gordon Stollery’s new 27-hole Uxbridge facility.

Interestingly, one GM told me off the record that he felt it was only a matter of time before regular private clubs started banding together in a ClubLink style to fight against the insurgent corporate golf giant. They’ve already started — as club’s like Thornhill, Weston, Summit and York Downs join together. Expect those bonds to grow stronger.

Tim Herron averaged over 300 yards off the tee en route to winning the Colonial. I guess it had nothing to do with technology — it was all the time spent in the gym…. Lorne Rubenstein has a column on Golfobserver.com on the problems facing the Canadian Open. Apparently Ian Baker-Finch said the tournament’s new July date is “suicide”… The Canadian Open isn’t the only tournament with sponsor troubles. The Colonial has lost Bank of America and has yet to find a new title company… Stephen Ames, who shot a terrible 77 on Saturday, recorded a 63 yesterday. “I’m a little disgusted with the way I played [Saturday], but it’s all a learning curve and things to work on and improve,” Ames said. “It was a big learning curve for me this week, and I’m quite happy with that.” Ames tied for fourth … Blogger Jay Flemma calls G4G the “gold standard” of golf blogs. Thanks Jay, the cheque, um, I mean check, is in the mail!

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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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