Making the Canadian Open Canadian Again

My column in today’s National Post examines the idea of taking the [photopress:cdnopen.jpg,full,alignright]Canadian Open back to its roots, dropping the naming sponsor and making it a true national open again. It is a concept that is being supported by Jim Kinnear, the CEO of Calgary oil giant Pengrowth Energy, and he’s hitting up other well known Canadian CEOs for support. The idea is to have a conglomerate of Canadian companies, none of which have naming rights, supporting the open.

I must admit it is an interesting concept, even if some think it would be difficult to pull together. I understand the concern. After all, instead of just landing a single company to foot the bill, one would have to nail down a half-dozen companies to put up smaller amounts to cover off the tournament’s costs.

There’s a couple of concepts that are being floated that have some merit as well. One is to hit up the existing membership of the Royal Canadian Golf Association for a couple of extra bucks per person to support the event. Sure some will cry foul when it comes to this notion, but I actually believe the Canadian Open builds interest in golf in Canada and strengthens the game. But the RCGA is not on solid ground theses days — especially when in comes to the National Golf Course Owners’ Association — so it would be hard to imagine the suit-and-tie types at the organization hitting up its members for more money.

Another concept I’ve discussed with an insider is about making the tournament “Canadian” and branding it around the Canadians playing it in.

“It is just about the only thing you can control,” said the insider, who said all former top Canadians could be invited back and make the tournament a celebration of Canadian golf first and foremost and a PGA Tour event second. It is an intriguing concept.


Speaking of the RCGA, according to several sources I’ve spoken with lately, the organization has narrowed its choices for executive director down to a small group, and has gone through two rounds of interviews. At least a couple of the names that were discussed in various articles about the ED position were actually interviewed for the job, and it wouldn’t surprise me if one of them actually landed the gig. There does seem to be a movement afoot to speak with younger candidates for the job, something that could invigorate the RCGA in the process.

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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

  • Being an older person myself, I was wondering how “a younger person might invigorate” the RCGA.? Would they run around the RCGA offices? Younger people are always with the family or at the health club (just kidding), or commuting. You could be right, what’s the average age of a judge, or Senator, or RCGA director? They need to be invigorated, but is there a short cut to experience?

  • Interesting – Tom Wright does make a lot of sense. Seems to me he was railroaded out of the CFL by some bullheaded owners after doing white a nice job turning around that league.

    He certainly does seem to have the required connections in the corporate world.

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