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Thoughts on Royal Montreal and Responses to Simmons at RCGA

I spent today touring three courses in Montreal — the fine and understated Beaconsfield; the terrific Mount Bruno; and the strange renovation of Royal Montreal’s Blue Course.

I’ll go into more detail about Bruno and Beaconsfield at a later date, but I must admit to coming away perplexed by Royal Montreal’s decision to overhaul the greens and bunkers, as well as a couple of complete holes, at its Dick Wilson-designed Blue Course.

Renovated by one of Rees Jones’ associates, the job seems very average. Yes, the course is no very long and difficult. But the bunkering seems average and repetitive (the U shaped bunkers are found all around the course), and the greens, with their distinct and clear tiers, are also repeated throughout the course.

In contrast, the Red Course, also a Wilson design, has movement in the greens, but without the obvious tiering effect used throughout the renovation of the Blue.

Perhaps most worrying is the fact that many members of Royal Montreal now find the Blue Course too difficult and have turned to playing the Red. In my mind this suggests the changes were made solely for the Presidents Cup and one has to wonder about the wisdom of overhauling a course for one event.

Additionally, I swear I’ve seen the same greens and bunkers on other Rees Jones courses. Someone call the cops, but I think the second at Grand Niagara is now at Royal Montreal.

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There was a little debate on the blog about the appointment of Scott Simmons. I wanted to clarify my remarks and respond to one of the comments. One of my readers thought I was being too critical of Simmons lack of a roadmap during the media conference yesterday.

Matt said:

I thought he made it pretty clear that a main priority was to build bridges with other Canadian golf organizations.

What do you expect during the course of a 30 minute press conference; to have him give a step by step plan to solve all the issues? Its not that simple.

I wanted to respond to Matt’s remarks as I think he touches on a key issue here. What I wanted from Simmons was something other than, I dont have a plan, or I dont have an answer to that ” yet. I know he presented the hiring committee with a plan involving the Open ” so why not share a little of it, even if it is incomplete. It would have demonstrated how he thinks ” and it would have cast aside a lot of fears many have.

Im one of the few golf writers that doesnt know him ” so I come to this with a clean slate while my compatriots in the press were pleased to call him Scotty during the media conference. Itll be interesting to see whether they are so kind in a year if no sponsor has arrived on the scene.

So no, Matt, I didn’t want all the answers in a short call (too short, in my mind). What I did want was some indication of the direction he was taking in regards to the key issue facing the organization. I didn’t get that — hopefully in time I will

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My National Post column on the hiring of Simmons is here.

Here’s a taste:

In aiming for a brighter future, the Royal Canadian Golf Association dipped into its past yesterday to find the man it hopes will restore the beleaguered organization to former glory.

At a press conference at its Oakville headquarters yesterday, the RCGA, the governing body of golf in Canada, announced Scott Simmons as its new executive director. The position has been vacant since the firing of long-time executive director Stephen Ross in March. Simmons had previously served as the organization’s director of marketing and communications for eight years before taking a job in marketing in the beer industry in 2000.

Speaking like someone from the business world, as opposed to the golf industry, Simmons didn’t directly answer many questions beyond talking about the RCGA’s “brand” and the need to have it “focused and re-energized.”

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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.

4 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I watched the web cast and heard your boner questions. As usual you are drawing conclusions before you have any facts. What else is new. The problems the RCGA is facing didn’t happen in a short period of time and they won’t be solved in a short period of time. And they certainly won’t be resolved in the 20 minutes (or less) that it usually takes you to write your columns. You asked two questions on the webcast. I noted that if anyone is devoid of ideas it’s you. You are pathetic. What did you expect from Scott, a grand vision ???? He hasn’t even started working. He said he wants to consult, and build consensus. How can he present a vision before he does that.

  • Appreciate your repsonse Rob, you make some good points.

    I echo your thoughts on RM…will be interested to hear your thoughts on Beaconsfield.

    Bruno is tops in QC, IMO.

  • Dear RT: “Boner questions?” I haven’t heard that expression since I was in grade six, so well done. And yes, I did ask two questions, so you are paying attention. Oh, and I have some pretty concrete ideas of what the RCGA should be doing — and if you want to send me an email or give me a call, I’d be delighted to share them with you.

    I, in fact, haven’t drawn any conclusions about Simmons or his abilities. By all accounts he is a good guy. I’ve never met him. That said, I was just surprised that the new ED didn’t offer some direction on what he wants to do. Building concensus is a given — it was something that has been widely discussed throughout the process. But it alone is not helpful.

    I didn’t want a grand vision — but I wanted some vision, and what we received were very little direction. Simmons said the PGA Tour’s relationship with the Canadian Open is “fantastic.” Tell that to those who are dealing with the date after the British Open.

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