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NatPost Column: Zokol at the RCGA

From this morning’s paper. Strange that there was no story in the Globe, though Lorne Rubenstein was on the conference call yesterday. Instead he wrote about some tennis pro who shot 58 while on vacation in Mexico.
The Royal Canadian Golf Association has problems. The young golfers it develops often struggle to make the leap to the professional ranks, and the Canadian Open, its key tournament, is struggling to attract the best PGA Tour pros.
Part of the solution, apparently, is former PGA Tour pro Richard Zokol. Zokol, who resides in Vancouver and won on the PGA Tour, was hired yesterday as an adviser to the organization.
Zokols appointment comes seven months after the hiring of Scott Simmons as the RCGAs new executive director. Zokol said he began talking about the possibility of assisting the RCGA soon after Simmons took over the organizations top job.
Simmons says Zokol brings a professionals perspective to the role, adding hell be central to trying to attract stronger fields to the event. This years tournament is being held in July at Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ont.
Were always looking to improve our field and it has been well-documented that were looking to other golf courses, says Simmons. These are all areas where I think we can learn a lot from Dick.
A few years ago Zokol had been asked to participate in a similar capacity for the RCGA, but an arrangement could not be finalized. Zokol will be compensated for his time spent in the new position, but terms of his salary were not disclosed. Zokol had previously been acting in an advisory role with the Canadian Junior Golf Association, but that position ended at the start of the year.
Zokol said helping improve the fields at the Canadian Open will be a central component of his new job. He called the tournament the backbone from any Canadian standpoint.
As a professional golfer and PGA Tour member, I bring perspective from one with experience, says Zokol. Maybe I can sneak into the locker room a bit and get them when they are not looking.
Right now the RCGA needs all the help it can get. Lasts years field at Angus Glen Golf Club north of Toronto had few of the top players in the world. The tournament follows the conclusion of the British Open, and many of the best golfers take the week off. Last week, Bill Paul, tournament director of the RBC Canadian Open, said he had already been told Tiger Woods, the worlds No. 1 golfer who has yet to lose a tournament this year, would not be coming to Canada in July. Woods, who won the Canadian Open in 2000 at Glen Abbey, the same course where the tournament is being held this year, has not come to Canada to play in the event since 2001. He has made several corporate appearances, and did play in the Presidents Cup last year at Royal Montreal.
Increasingly tournaments where Woods does not appear have struggled to attract crowds and lucrative corporate sponsorships.
Simmons said the RCGA was currently working on a five-year plan with the Royal Bank for the Canadian Open.
With respect to the RBC Canadian Open, once again our vision is to turn it into a best-in-class event within the PGA Tour, he says. We look to Dicks assistance in that as well.
Zokol will also assist with the RCGAs junior golf and national team players, and help in transitioning top amateurs into the professional ranks.
Zokol, who turns 50 in August and could attempt to play the Champions Tour, is also in the midst of building a multi-million dollar exclusive private golf facility in British Columbia. He admits finding time for the new role could be a challenge and that he may not play on the Champions Tour as much as he anticipated.
I plan to use my time effectively, he said. One that might take a hit is the Champions Tour unfortunately.
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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.

7 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Good move by the RCGA. Hopefully they will listen & act on Dick’s suggestions…particularly in the area of player development.

  • I’ve often said, “Best in Class” is like being the world’s tallest midget! Whatever happened to, “Best in Show”?

  • I wonder would the funds to compensate Zokol have come from the cancellation of the RCGA assisting in the funding of the Ontario Turfgrass Research Foundation.
    In my opinion, not a good decision as far as long term improvement in golf in this country is concerned.
    Perhaps their next move will be to cancel the junior tee program in order to increase the prize money for the “pros” ?

  • Dick…ya gotta be kidding.

    So I guess all the folks in Player Development haven’t been paid a wage? Disco Dick Zokol will bring more to the table than these guys have in what…10 years.

    Where’s your angst regarding spending dough over those years & getting virtually no improvement?

  • Neo:

    NO, I am not kidding.

    What has player development got to do with what I posted or do you have trouble understanding what you read?

  • Dick. I think you’re the one who has trouble understanding. Did you even read Thompson’s post before you replied? It doesn’t look like it.
    “Zokol will also assist with the RCGA’s junior golf and national team players, and help in transitioning top amateurs into the professional ranks.”

    To sum it up for you…Disco Dick is going to be involved in player development. Money well spent, wouldn’t you say.

  • Neo:

    My post said “the next thing we know they will take the money from the junior program (first tee?) and give it to the pros.
    That means I do not necessarily agree that Zokol is going to help the juniors or other player development.
    If he is going to have all those responsibilities, along with co-ersing the touring pros to come to the winter open in Canada, he is not going to have any time for his course in BC, or to go on the senior tour.

    The RCGA did withdraw their support from the OTRC and I can well imagine (as I posted) that they are probably using those funds for something else, maybe paying Zokol.

    I don’t think this is hard to understand.

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