Canadian Open at St. George's Gets Closer to Reality

There was a public meeting last night about the possibility of St. George’s, arguably the best golf course in Canada, hosting the Canadian Open. Apparently the idea met little resistance, which is surprising considering the NIMBY attitude of many in Toronto, and the notion that numerous roads would have to be closed in order to hold the tournament.

Only about 50 residents bothered to show up at the public forum on the event, which is hardly a groundswell of opinion pro or con.

The Toronto Star’s Jim Byers reports:

About 50 residents sat in a stifling auditorium at Richview Collegiate to hear about the idea of the Canadian Open returning to the city of Toronto for the first time in 42 years. Only a few people asked questions, mostly about the traffic impact on their neighbourhoods. And most of those interviewed after the hour-long meeting ended said they’re in favour.

“It was quite tame,” said Toronto councillor Gloria Lindsay Luby. “It was incredible, really.”

St. George’s board of directors has endorsed the plan but members of the exclusive club will vote on the idea between June 17 and June 24. The plan still has to go to Toronto city council but Lindsay Luby said it’s only an information item and isn’t slated for a vote.

“We have approvals from various departments already,” she said. “I don’t see anything to vote on.”

Officials say Islington Avenue would likely be closed from Eglinton Avenue south to The Kingsway to accommodate the tournament. TTC buses could be rerouted to a neighbourhood just west of Islington, but one lane would be kept open for emergency vehicles. Visitors, up to 100,000 over a week’s time, likely would be bused in from distant parking lots.

The club still has to vote on the matter, but I see this as having huge potential. St. George’s is a great course and would actually be quite viable for spectators. Sure there are logistical issues (range, anyone?), but they aren’t insurmountable. And the truth is it would be the best course to host the Canadian Open since, well, St. George’s in 1968. And given its proximity to Toronto, the Canadian Open could become a real celebration, with lots of other events surrounding it in the city. I also bet this would help the RCGA raise corporate support to unprecedented levels.

Now how about a rotation — St. George’s, Hamilton, Shaughnessy, London Hunt, Westmount, Royal Montreal and the National. Now that might actually attract a few players over time and help cement the Open as a significant event once more.

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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.

9 CommentsLeave a comment

  • what about throwing in some public courses into the rotation? which public course could host a CDN open and still be “worthy”?

  • I would think Glen Abbey would be part of the rotation if there was one. Also, if you’re going to include London Hunt (2 hours from major metro area) you could also consider adding places like Banff, Blackhawk, etc in the west.

  • The first truly public golf course that comes to mind for me (in the GTA) would be the Osprey Valley Heathlands. There is plenty of room on the property for the travelling circus that is the Canadian Open. There would also be a number of fields in the area to accomodate parking. The only problem would be player accomodations nearby. There is the Millcroft Inn and Hockley Valley resort nearby, but a better option would be to fly the players in from downtown Toronto by helicopter. If the RCGA is paying to charter a jet they could certainly cut a deal with a helicopter company for service to a from downtown Toronto. The golf course is still short by PGA standards, but there is room for lengthening and anybody who has played the course knows that it could be set up to be a true and brutal test of golf. Once the clubhouse is built it would make a great option.

  • We all know that the National cannot host the Canadian Open due to their membership policy. Banff may be problematic due to the fact that it is in a National Park – London isn’t quite analogous to Banff as it is the 10th largest city in the country and has the 9th(Hamilton) and 11th (Kitchener) cities within an hours drive, not to mention two very large metropolises (Toronto, Detroit) within 2 hours drive.

  • David – In what way is Glen Abbey not a truly public golf course?

    Do fees have to be less than $100 for a course to be truly public? And why is it beneficial to have the event played at a public course? The US Open is being played at a public course this week but it is, arguably, the worst course to hold the US Open in decades. I would much rather see the event at an ultra-private club such as Cypress Point (that pesky men-only issue again) or San Francisco Golf club, to name two other great courses in California.

  • I certainly was not hinting that Glen Abbey was not a public course. Although it is in the Clublink stable of tracks. Do members of Clublink private courses have priority tee times at their public facilities? I don’t know

  • Wayne. I tossed out some names from Alberta that are known as great tracks. 5 out of 7 on RT’s list were southern Ontario, with one in Quebec & one in Vancouver. Just thought if it was a rota, Alberta (with lots of head offices and oil dough) should get consideration. Also, I could be wrong, but it seems to me that there might be more hotel accomodations in greater Banff than in greater London, Ont.

  • Gents: There is currently no suitable course in Alberta — though Blackhawk might work if it were lengthened. Banff is too short considering the elevation and there were those who protested against the Skins game being held there.

    Calgary is a perfect market as soon as someone builds a course there.

    Montreal — Royal Montreal works. Too bad there’s nothing out east that fits the needs.

    And I think Glen Abbey still could have a role to play.

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