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State of the Canadian Tour

A few days ago I had a catch up session over lunch with Canadian Tour commissioner Rick Janes. [photopress:janes_1.jpg,full,alignright]I usually meet up with Janes once or twice a year at Scarboro G&CC, where he’s a member. We sipped coffee and talked golf — from the needs of young Canadians breaking into the tour to the state of corporate sponsorship. Janes is a friendly, affable fellow, and was a key in selling naming rights to venues like GM Place in Vancouver.

He said the Canadian Tour is all but filled now, with only a handful of potential dates remaining where it could add additional tournaments. New events this year will include one in Saskatoon, and while the tour would like to go farther into Eastern Canada (it ventures into Quebec now, but no farther), that doesn’t appear forthcoming.

Part of the goal now is to find markets outside of Canada that want to use Canadian Tour events, with their exposure of the Golf Channel for example, to help promote their region or golf. I would have thought this would be a relatively limited market, given that the GC doesn’t show full Canadian Tour events any longer, instead wrapping them into a once weekly program. But Janes said there is indeed a lot of interest, especially from Caribbean nations.

There’s also a plan to create a series of events leading into the PGA Tour’s Q-School, a time when most mini-tours are inert. Janes contends CanTour golfers just need to play, and that a four week series heading into Q-School, with events held in South Carolina or Alabama, for instance, would be what is called for.

The overall perspective was the tour’s future is brighter than it has been for years. Even the new Nationwide Tour event in Collingwood, which runs head-to-head with a Canadian Tour stop and will take a handful of top CanTour players, doesn’t appear to be a vast setback, though Janes admitted it would hurt charity donations made from the tour’s Barrie Tour Championship held a few months later.

Perhaps most interestingly, we spoke of the comparison of the Nationwide Tour to the Canadian Tour. Janes said a Calgary associate told him recently that the city needed to get the Nationwide Tour to return. Janes asked why? After all the expenses are much higher — about $1 million per year, and for that a sponsor only had about 5,000 people show up to watch, about the same number who attend a Canadian Tour event with costs that are less than half.

All of which suggests the CanTour is in a good spot. And with hot young Canadians like Andrew Parr, Richard Scott and Graham Deleat all playing regularly, the tour has a chance at garnering some greater domestic exposure as well.

That will come from increasing the media response to the tour, something Janes says he’s committed to doing now that a coherent and nearly full schedule has been devised.

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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.

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