The RCGA and BMW

Friday morning was spent drinking adequate coffee and listening to a brief press conference in which the Royal Canadian Golf Association announced a sponsorship deal with BMW.

Now before you get too excited, the deal isn’t for title sponsorship. It is just to replace Ford, who had previously been the auto sponsor of choice.

What was really interesting about the conference was the hard push the RCGA is trying to make to convince the media that Angus Glen is a good choice for next year’s Canadian Open. Among those who seem enthusiastic about Angus Glen’s North Course is Globe columnist Lorne Rubenstein:

Meanwhile, the RCGA can demonstrate its strengthened Angus Glen’s North course. A tour last May and again yesterday showed that Davis Love III, the PGA Tour player and architect the RCGA brought in to revamp the place, has done his job.

He and his team had to do the job, as Angus Glen’s owner Gordon Stollery knew. Stollery has spent some $2-million to make changes with a view toward neutralizing the bad vibes among tour players after they played the 2001 Skins Game there.

Mike Weir, Vijay Singh, Sergio Garcia and David Duval romped around the compromised course. It wasn’t original designer Doug Carrick’s fault the course was too easy. He’d designed it for corporate and recreational golf, not the Canadian Open.

The RCGA and Angus Glen have rectified the situation. But will PGA Tour players get the message? No one accepted the RCGA’s offer to examine the course during last month’s Canadian Open in Ancaster, Ont. (Officials will soon discuss bringing in some players next spring to see the course.)

It can’t be a good sign that RCGA tournament director Bill Paul couldn’t convince a single player to tour Angus Glen North. It is even worse that Love didn’t bother to show up this year. And with his reputation for renovation of courses already in question, one has to wonder whether Love will even show up next year. One golf writer I run into regularly wants to bet me that Love won’t bother coming north.

The Star’s Dave Perkins is another writer who has been converted and now thinks Angus Glen North will work:

Next year, at Angus Glen North, it’s a different story, although the club spent nearly $2 million on a drastic retooling of that course, according to specifications from Davis Love III. It will be significantly more difficult than its reputation for the pros. Whether that is enough to change initial word of mouth, most of that earned at the 2001 Skins Game, which is set up for easy scoring, remains to be seen. The date, one week after the British Open and preceding a World Golf Championships event and then the PGA Championship, certainly doesn’t help.

While Perkins hasn’t been optimistic about the state of the Canadian Opens in more recent columns, The Sun’s Ken Fidlin says all will be well with our national championship. You just have to have a little faith. Oh, and Angus Glen? An “suitable” course, he says, though he doesn’t actually explain what “suitable” means.

Anyone, especially the players who tore it to shreds at the Canadian Skins Game a few years back, would hardly recognize the layout renovated by Davis Love III at a cost to owner Gordon Stollery of $2 million. It will be a suitable arena for a PGA Tour event.

Sooner, rather than later, the RCGA will find itself a title sponsor for the Canadian Open as well. The fact that the event will be carried on American national TV into the foreseeable future should considerably widen the field of potential sponsors, especially to companies that do business on both sides of the border.

Hardly recognize it? Since the routing and greens haven’t been touched at all, it is hard to determine what people “won’t recognize.”

What’s my take? Well, I’ve toured and played the course a few times since the changes. My review of the alterations is here. Yes it is tougher. Yes the fairways have been narrowed. But no, I don’t think it will make any difference. The buzz about the course can be changed among Canadian golf writers, but changing the already fixed perception of it among PGA Tour pros is another issue altogether.

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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.

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  • It’s astonishing to me that these writers are buying into the idea of a vastly improved Angus Glen North. The golf course is simply bland and uninspiring. Even if the changes — which were hardly noticable when I last played it — make the golf course more difficult, the layout does not call for any of the creative shot-making that was on display at Hamilton and that should be on display in any Open championship. They can make it long and the wind can howl and the scores might not be as low as everyone expects, but that doesn’t mean the players will like the golf course . . . the ones that show up anyway.

  • RT

    Point 1:
    You say that “Perkins hasn’t been optimistic about the state of the Canadian Opens in more recent columns”. I went back all the way to August 1, 2006 and could only find ONE column where he talks about the challenges of the Canadian Open.

    So what ‘recent’ columns are you referring to?

    Point 2:
    “It can’t be a good sign that RCGA tournament director Bill Paul couldn’t convince a single player to tour Angus Glen North.”

    Are you really suggesting that during the Canadian Open that PGA Tour players travel from Hamilton to Angus Glen (almost a two hour drive one way) to tour Angus Glen. Which day would they do that? Most arrive on Monday. Tuesday is practise day for them and Wednesday is pro am day, and it is mandatory that the top players in the field participate in the pro am. Thursday through Sunday are tournament days. I can’t believe Bill Paul would even ATTEMPT to convince the players to tour Angus Glen during this year’s Canadian Open. These are athletes, and their only focus during tournament week is the event, not NEXT’s year event. Get Real. Did Bill Paul actually tell you that he tried to convince players to tour Angus Glen? Is that what you are saying?

    Point 3
    “And with his [Love’s]reputation for renovation of courses already in question? ” Please tell me who is questioning his reputation? Is your only evidence your Blog on Forest Oaks? I read the story you referenced. The story talked about ALL the shortcomings of Forest Oaks for the Grensboro event (the old clubhouse, the distance from Greensboro to the course, and yes, the course itself.) However, this article did not go so far as to question Love’s design work IN GENERAL, which you are doing without providing any evidence. Again, please tell me who is questioning Love’s design because I haven’t read it. Enlighten us please.

    You seem to delight in picking apart the reference by Fidlin to Angus Glen as a suitable course. You are critical that he doesn’t provide support for his opinion.

    Where is the support for your opinions?

    Angry Alfie.

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