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The Abbey — back in shape; New course openings; Myskins.ca; Ken Thomson — the golfer

According to a press release yesterday from ClubLink, Glen Abbey, [photopress:GlenAbbey2.jpg,full,alignright]which was in notoriously tough shape last year (a year in which admittedly many courses were in tough shape) is in “great overall conditions that are getting excellent reviews from golfers.” Kind of an odd press release to put out. Sort of like admitting things were not good at the Abbey last year. That’s also the indication of Ontgolf.ca readers, whose comments on the facility last year were biting.

Ryan Beauchamp is the new super, formerly of St. Thomas. Ryan is a really nice guy and I’m glad to hear he’s got the Abbey in shape, which included the rebuilding of the 11th green. One nitpick though. The press release says “golfers” are giving the Abbey excellent reviews, but all I got from the press release is that ClubLink execs think it is in great shape (oh, and Heidi Novak and the handicap chair). Where is a quote from the average golfer who shelled out $235 to play there?

According to press releases I received yesterday, both The Raven in Collingwood (McBroom/Lehman) and Muskoka Bay (Carrick) are scheduled to open July 1. Pull out your Visa cards golfers and run — don’t walk — to the pro shop. Word has it that both of these courses will be top notch, though apparently Muskoka Bay has three greens which have been slow to grow in.

Teed it up yesterday at the excellent Hunters Pointe near Welland [photopress:hunterspointe.jpg,full,alignright]with the creators of Myskins.ca. It is an interesting concept in the era when all coupon books seem to be flooding the online market, and bringing down the average cost of a round at many courses. Myskins is a loyalty program and appears to be a pretty good fit for both courses and golfers. Currently there are more than 30 courses working with the program, which is expected to more than double next year. Also interesting to note that Steve Billyard, the GM at Hunters Pointe, says the facility is in a unique position. The course had 34,000 rounds last year which is “too many” according to Billyard. But how do you lower it while raising your revenue? That’s the question.

Lost among all of the remarks about Ken Thomson’s untimely death yesterday at the age of 82, was the fact that he was more than just an art lover — he was also a golfer. The world’s ninth richest man played at the Hunt Club just outside of Toronto’s Beach area. John A. Tory, who ran much of Mr. Thomson’s empire for years, told me while Thomson didn’t play often, he did enjoy the game and occasionally played alone in the evenings.

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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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