With Stephen Ross now out of the picture at the RCGA, whomever takes over as executive director will have to think long and hard about how they restructure the organization and what that means for the Canadian Open.
One school of thought that I’ve had lengthy conversations about recently is the notion of “Canadianizing” the tournament. I can’t take credit for this one, the concept comes from someone else. But it sounded like smart advice considering the event has struggled to draw the absolute top names (ie. Tiger and Phil) in recent years.
The concept would be to promote the event as a truly Canadian golf tournament and though it would remain part of the PGA Tour and still (hopefully) attract some of the top golfers, it would become part of a celebration of golf in this country. In other words, the marketing of the event would be more about the Canadian players — Weir, Ames, Baryla, Lepp, Scott, Rutledge, etc. — and less about the likes of David Toms and Mickelson (both of which have been the central focus in past marketing efforts for the tournament who then didn’t show up.)
I’ve also heard about a couple of intriguing possibilities. One involves[photopress:bell_logo_1.jpg,full,alignright] dropping the title sponsor altogether in an attempt to make the Open more like the British and the U.S. This would involve asking for more money out of the member clubs or raising it some other way. That would be a huge task, but one that could become the focus of the new executive director. And if that person had more goodwill with the market than Ross did, it could become an interesting opportunity to really make the tournament a national title again without being devalued (in the eyes of some) by a title sponsor.
The other discussion I’ve heard floated is to make the event a link between the U.S. and Canada, bringing on a number of Canadian companies that wish to improve relations with our neighbour to the south. This concept would involve using the event as a mini Davos, with the tournament as a part of a bigger Canada-U.S. summit. The notion is that several Canadian companies might be willing to buy into this notion who might not be willing to ante up for the golf tournament itself. An unusual concept, but one that might just work.
Regardless, the new executive director is going to have to wade through all of this and make a decision that is best for the tournament and for golf in this country — and that’s no small task.