It is looking more and more like a reality after a story published in the Toronto Star.
The Star, quoting RCHA chief operating officer Rick Desrochers, said the club has now signed off on hosting the event (was that really in question?) and now the issues reside with the city. It would be the first Canadian Open held within Toronto since 1968, when it was last held at St. George’s.
Royal Canadian Golf Association chief operating officer Rick Desrochers told the Star that there are still hurdles to leap, but that it was “a very important step” when St. George’s agreed to the concept.
The biggest “hurdle” is the city and potential pushback from residents over road closures. While Scott Simmons, the RCGA’s top blue blazer, told me recently that the city has been extremely cooperative, there are still questions about the reaction from nearby residents.
The main problem is this — while St. George’s as a golf course could certainly host the Open from within the ropes, it is issues outside the ropes that could derail this like a weak slice in a cut wind.
Details have to be hammered out and residents of Etobicoke will have to be consulted next month, but Toronto councillor Gloria Lindsay Luby yesterday said city officials like the concept.
“I think you could say it’s moving along,” she said. “Staff feel it’s feasible. But I have a lot of serious questions that have to be answered.”
The issue is the closing of Islington, a major roadway, and perhaps the issue of a driving range. St. George’s has a short range, but pros would not be able to hit driver. Club and RCGA officials would ideally like to move the range somewhere else, and use the land for tents. Islington could also be used for corporate tents, since it rests between the clubhouse and the course.
Residents probably won’t be big fans however. I’m hoping to head to the public meeting and gauge reaction for myself.
So where does this leave the potential site for the 2010 Canadian Open? I’d say it is clear as mud. The club is interested and the city is being helpful. But angry residents could hurt this — especially if they are going to be inconvenienced for a week or more.
And there are also issues of what the pros might make of having to travel some distance to warm up. Sure it happens at places like Pebble Beach already, but the proposal from St. George’s is to have the range in a nearby park, with limited landscaping just for the event. I imagine that would be a security hassle, but nothing that can’t be dealt with. In a conversation with Mike Weir — who has not played St. George’s — he said if the course is as good as reports — and it is — he’d be willing to deal with the second-rate range.
But how good could St. George’s be as the host site? Likely one of the top three or four courses the players would play on tour in any given year. It is that strong. The truth is fans wouldn’t see the results — which would mean a stronger field — until the second time the course hosts the events. The first time most PGA Tour pros would not even recognize the course. But Stanley Thompson’s gem is a better course than Hamilton — and golfers like Jim Furyk were thrilled by that one.