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Royal Bank in as Canadian Open sponsor

RCGA president Garry West said he was the happiest person in the [photopress:conference.jpg,full,alignright]room this afternoon, and well he should be — after nailing down Royal Bank for a five year sponsorship for the Canadian Open. The deal essentially guarantees the future of the event through 2012, and my sources say it was upwards of $4 million per year, but less than the reported $5 million Bell was paying.

My thoughts on the deal are this:

  • Has there been a better and more effective RCGA president than West? He cleared the decks earlier this year by removing Stephen Ross as executive director and then nails down a deal with RBC. The only issue I see was the decision to head to Glen Abbey two years in a row for the Canadian Open. If West nails down St. George’s for the Canadian Open in 2010, his presidency will be nearly perfect. I say West for one more year so he can establish a course rotation for the tournament.
  • Good for Scott Simmons. The RCGA’s new ED has made a big splash in a few months and deserves some recognition for getting the deal done. I’ve been critical of the RCGA in the past, but they should be applauded for the RBC arrangement.
  • RBC’s chief brand officer, Jim Little, was the same man who two years ago announced Bell Canada was pulling out of the Canadian Open. Little, who was with Bell at the time, joined RBC six months ago.
  • It appears that one of the conditions of the RBC deal is that the bank will be more active as a sponsor — at least that’s what Little indicated: Make no mistake, we will be an active partner of the RBC Canadian Open, he said. We will be an active partner of its strategic plan and an active steward to make sure theres accountability for results.
  • Scott Simmons, the RCGA’s (relatively) new executive director said one of the agreements between RBC and the RCGA is that money made from the event will be reinvested back into the tournament. Simmons said money will no longer be used to fund other RCGA initiatives — which is interesting, but also means other tournaments, like the Canadian Amateur, will have to run on a break even level. Simmons said where the money that used to run into RCGA coffers will go has not been decided.
  • In September, Korean company LG Electronics announced it was pursuing the title sponsorship. Sources say the companys offer was taking too long to close and was lower that RBCs offer. Little seemed to chuckle when the LG deal was mentioned in a question by a reporter.
  • No one seemed to directly state the deal would bring a better field, but tournament director Bill Paul suggested it would be easier to get at the top players now.
  • A new date seems very unlikely. “Why would the PGA Tour give the Canadian Open a new date now that they’ve sold RBC on the existing one?” a source questioned.

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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.

8 CommentsLeave a comment

  • With no tour date change for the foreseeable “next generation” or two………………Cdn Open will continue to attract only a hand full of the “A” Class players (ie. Vijay, Weir, Furyk…….and a few others) and the remaining “B” players which are hardly household names……………….
    This is a shame, when we look back at the players who have been a part of this tournament over the years…… (ie. Tiger, Golden Bear, Arnie…..and so on…….)

  • Kudos to the RCGA on this one.

    They have had a bad run of it recently, but the new regime seems to have stepped up on this. Good work.

  • Re: New date for the Canadian Open…I would be surprised if RBC was not promised something regarding a new date…right of first refusal on a new date in the next round of negotiations or when a date becomes available. The current arrangement is just not that attractive. Everyone knows PGA players pick their tournaments based on schedule and course…having a new sponsor or the RBC name means nothing to the pros except for the winner who has to remember to name them during the trophy presentation speech.

  • My guess is that the tour didn’t promise anything yet and that the deal was well over 4 mil. per year.

    I also think the tour and the RCGA have got to be ecstatic to get RBC involved. My guess is that while it’s a 5 year commitment, it will last well beyond that. The CDN open will get rejuvinated over time and the date will likely move (perhaps around renewal time).

  • Isn’t the title sponsor obliged to buy a certain amount of time on the US network that is broadcasting the tournament? How will that work for RBC since they only have a regional presence in the US? From that perspective a company like LG, or even better RIM would have been a better title sponsor.

    Since RBC has operations across Canada this could allow for the tournament to move occasionally but I imagine the bulk of the tournaments will still be held in Southern Ontario which is their centre of operations and the location of the most important clients of the bank. They will want to use this tournament for client relations and those clients aren’t the poor schmucks who pay $10 (or more) per month for the pleasure of having RBC hold their money.

  • KC: Good question and I don’t think we received a good answer — yet.

    That said, at least the tournament will exist for the next five years, and that’s exciting from my perspective. The Canadian Open is still one of my favourite events to cover — and before I wrote golf I used to go as a spectator. It was — and is — a great sporting event for spectators.

    But then again, I don’t really care whether Tiger shows up — I’m more intrigued at finding a player who is golfing well and walking around the course with him. That’s what I enjoy.

  • It’s great that a Canadian company is sponsoring the CANADIAN Opened, but with so many great Canadian wine makers available, shouldn’t the wine also be Canadian?

    I hear the Canadian Open will be serving Wolfblass.

    Vincore changed their Cellared in Canada Wine (read cheap foreign imported wines) to Canadian VQA wine after Canadian wine writers caused a fuss. Time for the Canadian Open to support Canadians too.

    Get a Canadian company with 100% Canadian wines to sponsor your event. This is a world stage moment that deserves to show off all that is Canadian.

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