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NatPost Column: Nationwide is Going to Party Like its 99

Yesterday was a day of driving. Up at six, out the door 45 minutes later. Two and a half hours later, and one Timmy’s double-double, I pulled up at the doors of the Georgian Bay Club in Collingwood. Fifteen minutes later Wayne Gretzky walked in, looking all dapper in a grey suit.

He wasn’t there to talk about hockey. The Great One came to talk golf, specifically his Nationwide Tour event in Collingwood the last week of June. It is a celebrity deal, with a bunch of hockey players, a couple of guys from Entourage (yay!) and John Elway. Oh, sure there are others, but that’s all I can recall off the top of my head.

Anyway, spent 15 minutes talking to Wayne and then quizzed the Nationwide Tour exec who was there on why this event will work where other Nationwide Tour events have faltered.

It all shows up in a column in this morning’s paper. You can find it here. Oh, and the purse — $800,099.

Oh, and here’s a taste:

It took the Great One to bring the Nationwide Tour back to Canada. But it will take more than Wayne Gretzky to make it a success.

Gretzky was in Collingwood, Ont., Wednesday to promote his inaugural celebrity tournament, which will run in conjunction with the Nationwide Tour event at the Georgian Bay Club and the Raven at Lora Bay starting June 26.

The event was first considered in 2006. The goal was to mirror the celebrity element of the tournament from Gretzky’s experience the last three years playing in the BMW Charity Pro-Am in North Carolina.

“To do a pro/celebrity side would give [the tournament] some sizzle and buzz and hopefully that will help promote it some more,” Gretzky said.

The Nationwide Tour, golf’s equivalent of Triple-A baseball, could use the help. It has a strong Canadian element, including Ian Leggatt, Chris Baryla and Bryan DeCorso, who won earlier this year.

Lorne Rubenstein of the Globe and Mail was also there — his column can be found here.

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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.

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I think it’s great that Gretzky & Ford are doing this. I just wish they could have tied the Canadian tour into this as well and make it an even bigger golf weekend event and a boost to that tour. I think it will work better than a regular Nationwide stop, but could have been even bigger with more publicity. The problem with a Nationwide event is that it’s generally a page 4 item. If they had done something really different I think they could have made it front page (sports section). Gretzky & friends may do that – hope so.

  • Robert who was there from Entourage? That is awesome. Did you hug it out? I hope Drama was there and gave you a “Victory!!”

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