RCGA To Announce 2009 CDN Open Site — Glen Abbey?


The RCGA has scheduled a 11:30 conference call to announce the site of the 2009 Canadian Open site.

The likely choice: Glen Abbey, the course that will hold the event next year already, and has held it a couple of dozen times since 1977.

And Glen Abbey would be a disaster and could prove the end of the Canadian Open.

The point of selling the Abbey in the late 1990s was to allow for the Canadian Open to be moved away from the Abbey. There’s been a revisionist history that has suggested the RCGA wanted to move the Open around after the sale. In fact, the RCGA wanted to build courses to hold the tournament and then realized they didn’t have enough money to follow through with the concept.

So the notion of “moving the Open around” Canada was developed. It didn’t take too long to see the problems with that. Turns out there are not that many courses capable of holding the tournament. There was Shaughnessy in Vancouver, nothing in Calgary, Glen Abbey, Hamilton and, apparently, Angus Glen in Toronto, Royal Montreal in Quebec and that was it.

In order to add a course to the rota, the RCGA entered into an agreement with Gord Stollery, Angus Glen’s owner, to build a course in the Montreal market. But that has been long delayed and now won’t be ready for 2009 and maybe not 2010.

So, according to a story by Lorne Rubenstein in today’s Globe, the site for 2009 will be inspired: Glen Abbey. Lorne uses RCGA tournament director Bill Paul’s comments, along with the fact a wedding was put on hold at the Abbey until an announcement was made.

While the RCGA has danced with the likes of St. George’s in recent weeks, the club has yet to have a vote on accepting the Open, so it doesn’t appear to be headed there. The other obvious option would be London’s Hunt Club, but there is no indication it is headed there, which is a shame.

So it is back to the Abbey, a course that last saw Mike Weir duel with Vijay Singh and lose in 2004.

The problem? Most PGA Tour players are pretty split on the merits of the Abbey and it isn’t like it is an exciting classic venue. Jim Furyk told me this summer that he wouldn’t have come to play the Canadian Open if it was at Glen Abbey as opposed to Hamilton. Then there’s Weir. The RCGA always leans on him to sell the Canadian Open and he’s not fond of Glen Abbey. If Weir has to sell the tournament, something he does so more reluctantly these days, why not try to find a venue he actually supports?

I’m also perplexed at why the RCGA would feel the need to announce the venue now. It must be under some pressure to nail this down, but without a sponsor do we even know for certain there is a 2009 Canadian Open? RCGA pres Garry West said this summer the organization was committed to running the tournament without a sponor this coming summer. Beyond that, who knows? The organization can not afford to run the Canadian Open at a huge loss without a sponsor, so there’s a chance there is no tournament in 2009.

And if a sponsor is found in coming months, wouldn’t the RCGA want to consult with that operation about where this potential sponsor would like to see the Open? Perhaps their immediate goal isn’t the Toronto market.

Overall, Lorne is probably right and the 2009 Canadian Open is likely heading to Glen Abbey, demonstrating once again just how shortsighted former RCGA exec director Stephen Ross was when it came to his planning.

The only question is whether there will be a Canadian Open to take to Glen Abbey in two years.

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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.

17 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I agree surely there are other course that could have held the tournament. What about Toronto GC – they should be able to handle the logistics, particularly if you used Lakeview for tents, etc? Or are they not interested?

    One way to save the Canadian Open, and some of the other tour events, would be to rotate the FedExCup playoffs to different tournaments/sites. For example, why not have the Canadian Open be the Labour Day tournament that is the 2nd of the 4 playoff events in 2008 or 9. Same with some of the other tournaments that have been screwed by the scheduling. The Deutsche Bank tournament could switch with the Canadian Open be held the week after the British Open. Use a rota so that every second or third year all of the summer tournament sites are used for the FedExCup playoffs and are guaranteed of a good field.

  • Playing the event west of Ontario would be difficult given the time slot after the Open Championship.

    I also think the Abbey makes sense as a venue until they can get this rota thing figured out. Eagles Nest would be a possibility, but I’m not sure playing the Canadian Open on a faux links is the right move. Toronto GC is just way too short – other than #3 or 13, I don’t think the pros would hit a driver.

    The Abbey also has some exciting finishing holes – 16 & 18, which can determine the outcome of the tourney.

    As long as the tournament is held the week after the Open, I don’t think it will matter where you hold it. I also believe it will have a sponsor by next year.

  • I think the big picture is the fact that if the date and the venue can’t attract any notable names than who is going to sponsor the Cdn. Open. Why would Pengrowth, Bell etc choose to sponsor and event that pretty much has a Nationwide type field, with a much more massive purse?

    I truly feel that if the Rcga picked top notch golf courses, at a minimum we would get past champions, like Singh, and Furyk. Even lesser names liek Calc. Not sure if that will happen now. Hunt Club would have been an excellent pick.


  • “Turns out there are not that many courses capable of holding the tournament. There was Shaughnessy in Vancouver, nothing in Calgary, Glen Abbey, Hamilton and, apparently, Angus Glen in Toronto, Royal Montreal in Quebec and that was it.”

    Elaborate, please. In particular, why do you think there are no more than the noted courses that are “capable of holding the tournament”? Please don’t tell me it’s yet another example of GTA-centric myopia. I happen to think there are dozens of courses west of GTA capable of hosting the Open and the failure of the RCGA to recognize that and schedule it out here is a large factor, perhaps the largest factor, in its descent into virtual oblivion as a championship event.

  • BuhByeOpen: Things needed to hold Canadian Open

    1) Course at least 7,000 yards as a par 70 or 7,300 as a par 72. The course must be of some quality.
    2) Room for 50 corporate tents and up to 40,000 spectators (can be as low as 25,000). Television crew and equipment must also have space.
    3) In a place with at least 4-star hotels and infrastructure enough to deal with players, officials, and a lot of spectators.
    4) Must be in an area where there are enough of a population to support the event and come as spectators. Probably at least 1 million people in surrounding area.
    5) the time zone is an issue as long as the tournament follows the British Open.
    When you think of it this way, there aren’t that many courses capable of holding such an event — and many of those that are happen to be in Ontario.

    What courses do you think fit the bill? Anyone?

  • Item 1: guess it is GTA myopia – there are dozens of 7,000 – 7,300 yard courses in greater Vancouver/Calgary/Edmonton/Winnipeg and certainly the top, say, 20 – 30% of those would be “of some quality”.
    Item 2: this criteria don’t eliminate any more than 4 or 5 of the dozens referenced above
    Item 3: even worse GTA myopia! Are you suggesting, say, the Pan Pacific in Vancouver or the Fairmont Hotel McDonald in Edmonton aren’t sufficiently “posh” for the likes of Brett Wetterich or Steve Stricker or any of the other golf luminaries that currently make up the field of Open? As for “infrastructure”, I have every confidence the cities that have hosted Olympic games, World Track championships, Stanley Cup finals (oops, forgot you’re from GTA and wouldn’t know about such things), LPGA majors, etc., could somehow cobble together a plan to host a second (!?) tier PGA event.
    Item 4: I can guarantee you that, even with a crappy field, the Open in Edmonton or Calgary (or Regina, for that matter) would outdraw the 27th or 33 or 112th hosting of the Open at Glen Abbey by tens of thousands
    Item 5: Ya got me there – it’s patently obvious the dozens and dozens of top PGA tour pros that eagerly hopped on that RCGA plane to litter the field of this year’s Open would say “no thanks” if they had to spend another hour or two drinking champagne and scarfing hors d’oerves to get somewhere west of Taranna.

    As for courses, in no particular order: Shaunnessy, Capilano, Northridge, any one of three or four @ Whistler, Glencoe, Heritage Point, Calgary CC, Northern Bear, Redtail Landing, Blackhawk, Royal Mayfair or, if you wanted to really be adventurous, Kananaskis, Stewart Creek, Silvertip or Wolf Creek.

  • Let’s just start and end here:

    Shaunnessy — yes, good course.
    Capilano — no, far, far too short.
    Northridge — not well regarded.
    Any one of three or four @ Whistler — all too short. Chateau isn’t walkable. Palmer is too short. Ball travels too far at elevation.
    Glencoe — possible. But not well regarded. Ames dislikes it.
    Heritage Point — too short
    Calgary CC — too short
    Northern Bear — not well regarded as a design by anyone.
    Redtail Landing — not a bad course, but right next to the airport and dead flat. Wouldn’t be considered a top course.
    Blackhawk — great, but too short.
    Royal Mayfair — an okay golf course, but once again, too short for the pros. Can this one, as a par 70, be set up at 7,000 yards.

    As for the draw issue — I thought you were going to suggest areas outside of metropolitan regions. You’re right, Edmonton and Calgary should host the Open — the question is where.

  • A good host always lets the guest have the last word!

    What started off as your “top 5” reasons in support of the RCGA not scheduling the 09 Open west of GTA has distilled down to “too short” and “not well regarded” (by whom, exactly?). Regarding the “too short” comment: the hallowed Hamilton GCC plays 6700 yards from the tips for members. Obviously it is lengthened for the Open, but it is also a shining example as to how growing the rough and cutting down the greens can make even a short course a sufficient challenge for a national championship. Further examples that length isn’t everything are the 6 or 8 “too short” courses in Edm/Cgy that have hosted the Cdn Tour/Nationwide Tour in recent years and which have not been “destroyed” by some pretty decent fields (as if the current field for the Open is all that much better) – winning score in the Telus Open at the Edmonton CC this year was (IIRC) 18 under.

    And even if the winning score were 24 or 26 or 28 under, so what? Would that, somehow, detract from the “prestige” of the current Cdn Open? Aren’t a lot of them bellyaching about how tough the courses are set up these days – maybe a shorter, easier course would actually be a draw!

    I’ve said my piece – thanks for the soapbox

  • The National (let a couple of women in), St. George’s, Mississauga, Hamilton, Westmount, London Hunt, Essex.

    You’ve got this 7,000 yard thing on your brain – what did you once hit a 300 yard drive? Merion is hosting the 2013 open – it’s been lengthened to something like 6,800 and, depending on the weather, I’ll bet the winning score is over par. They also had to buy some adjacent land for corporate tents.

    I remember in the mid 1980’s, when Glen Abbey was the longest course on tour (many pros used to bitch about it being too long), I watched Leonard Thompson shoot a 61 (balata balls and wooden driver). Length is no longer a defense to scoring.

    If I was king of the RCGA, I’d scale the whole thing back – put it on the Canadian Tour and salute the PGA Tour with my middle finger (and do you think the PGA Tour would care?). And it would rotate through 5 regions – Maritimes, Quebec, Ontario, Man/Sask/Alta, and BC. There would also be qualifying tournaments in every province with at least one guaranteed spot from each directly to the Open. And a Canadian would then eventually win again.

    And BTW – Glen Abbey is one of the worst courses to follow the groups on the back nine – it is impossible to get around the valley or even see anything. You can’t get near the 11th, 12th or 13th greens.

  • What a totally lame choice of courses.

    Using Glen Abbey in the past has much to do with the state of the Open and I agree, it will be the end of the Open.

  • While I’m geographically an ocean away from this issue, it breaks my heart that the country that’s given the world Banff, Capilano and Kananaskis should be scratching around for Open venues.

    I suppose you’re going to tell me that Banff is too isolated. As for Capilano’s shortness, I offer in partial rebuttal this quote from Lee Janzen after he played it: “I used every club in my bag”.

    Have we really reached the stage where length is the only way we test these guys?

  • Leave Glen Abbey alone!

    It is a great golf course, in a great area and has hosted some exciting events and has produced some hall of fame champions

    Curtis Strange
    Greg Norman
    Tiger Woods
    Nick Price

    Going to Glen Abbey isn’t ALL that bad…….my gosh! There are much bigger issues.

    You would get the same field no matter where is was held…this move just make a lot of sense until things get a little more settled.

  • I can’t believe people think that the venue matters so little.
    Ask the players the course is almost always number one on the list, if there was a Hamilton type course every year a few quality players would still enter the field.

    Everyone knows the date sucks, but the combo of crappy date and unpopular venue will kill the open.

  • Tom – I wasn’t all that bothered by the Open going back to GA in 2008 – but back to back years? The whole idea of the RCGA selling Abbey is that it wouldn’t have to keep putting the Open there.

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