RCGA Wants Tiger To Design Course

Canada: Tiger's Grand Design?

Canada: Tiger's Grand Design?

There may be plenty of problems with the idea, but Lorne Rubenstein is reporting today that RCGA Canadian Open tournament director Bill Paul has approached Tiger Woods about designing a course that could be used for the tournament.

Bill Paul, the RBC Canadian Open’s tournament director, said on Thursday that he spoke with Woods about his design business during the Masters last April.

“We talked about where he was going with his design and I said we should talk further if there’s any opportunity to do a course in Canada,” Paul said. “He said, ‘Let’s do it,’ ” meaning they should explore the possibility.

Paul later spoke with Woods’s agent, Mark Steinberg, about getting together again to discuss the matter. It wasn’t long before the U.S. Open, which Woods won, came up. Woods then had reconstructive knee surgery and has since been recuperating.

“It’s in my diary now,” Paul said about further discussion. “I have to follow up with Tiger and Steinberg.”

Where to start? Can you say pipe dream? The RCGA’s executive director Scott Simmons admits the organization has no cash to build a course. And unless Paul has gone into the development business himself, there’s no builder in place for a Woods course and there’s surely plenty of people lined up to purchase his services in more obvious markets. I’d heard a rumor a few months ago that there had been talk about approaching Woods to build a course in Calgary. That might make sense, since the RCGA has long been anxious to move into the market, but lacks a course. There was also discussion about involving Mike Weir in a course that could host the Canadian Open. Weir is currently in the final stages of setting up his design firm, which will likely be launched with a project in BC early next year.

Of course all of this runs contrary to the RCGA’s stated goal of utilizing classic Canadian courses for the Open. Score has reported 2011 will go to Shaughnessy G&CC in Vancouver, following St. George’s in 2010. After that I’d guess Royal Montreal or back to the Toronto market before heading to Montreal. Besides, a new course — by Weir or Woods — probably wouldn’t be ready until at least 2013 at the current pace, even if you take current economic conditions out of the equation.

However, even Rubenstein’s article seems to suggest the chance a Woods design will happen in Canada are remote at best:

“We only had that quick conversation at the Masters,” Paul said. “If Tiger did a course [in Canada] naturally we would want it to host the Canadian Open.”

“I’m sure even Tiger would admit that it would be a feather in his cap if he knew his course was going to be a part of the Canadian Open rota,” Simmons said. “If it’s going to happen anywhere in the country, you’d think Alberta is the logical choice. We can’t afford to go to a small market. You have to go to a market that RBC will embrace and where there’s enough corporate support to allow you to at least break even.”

Simmons knows that Alberta lacks a course that could play host to the Canadian Open. He’s also spoken with Mike Weir about a course. He said the RCGA has made it known to Weir and the International Management Group in Toronto, with whom he works, that the association would “love to understand” how it could be involved in a course he designs in Canada.

Speaking of St. George’s, a construction firm has been hired by the club to work with Doug Carrick to build a couple of new tees and perhaps rework some landing areas (#5, #10) on the course.

Rubenstein’s article is 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.

20 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Gawd, I hope they don’t mess with #5 and #10 too much…

    And why wouldn’t they get Ian Andrew to do the work?

  • Boy, this inspires confidence in the RCGA!

    Let’s see.

    1. Let’s get Tiger to build a course, and assume that it is the panacea…even though he has never done a course, we don’t know what it would be like, or whether he would play in the event.

    2. Tiger politely says casually and politely “let’s do it”, and the RCGA takes that as a done deal. A tad naive perhaps?

    3. The RCGA then gets quoted in a national newspaper as saying sure, we would be willing to pay him X million dollars…who on earth negotiates like this?


  • Rework landing areas at #5 and #10… specifically for a single Canadian Open, in 2010?! What a ridiculous suggestion. What’s the point?!

    People have been playing golf on those holes — excellent holes, mind you — for nearly 80 years. Again, what’s the point?!

  • Robert,

    He must be fired up by all the success he had with his/the RCGA’s last foray into Golf Architecture at Angus Glen North. It worked so well with the designer coming to play and bringing all his buddies right.

  • Good point, Ian, re Davis Love’s redesign of AGN.

    If in fact this suggestion is even possible, unless there’s a definite certainty Tiger and co. can design a golf course which will TRULY ENDURE, there’s no logic in bringing him to Canada to design a golf course specifically for our Open… especially in light of his suspected fee.

    Sure, there may be “instant impact” if Tiger plays in the event for a few years in a row after this hypothetical course is ready to play. (Golfers will, at least intially, flock to play this course as well.) But, look at the big picture. In other words, 30 or 40 or 100 years from now. The Canadian Open is over 100 years old, and will likely be around for another 100 years and more.

    Nicklaus’ Glen Abbey hasn’t endured, at all. In fact, Glen Abbey playing permanent host to the Open for some two decades succeeded in making the tournament less attractive to PGA Tour players. So now the “bright idea” is to bring in the world’s most popular golfer (just as Nicklaus was during the mid-1970s) to design a Canadian Open course?!

    This is one of the problems with modern golf architecture: Too many golf courses are marketed as the next “great thing” by some “big name” before construction’s even started, and then built to have an “instant impact”. Few modern creations TRULY ENDURE. A couple magazine covers later, no one really cares any more… with the exception of a notable few modern creations, worldwide.

    It seems the RCGA should put a little more thought into this. “Let’s hire Tiger” is a little too obvious, and potentially short-sighted.

  • Why is the Canadian market dominated by fandom? Look at the high profile designers we get: Player, Norman, Couples, O’Meara, and now flirting with Woods. The Rise is junk. Maple Bay is bust.

    Why not hire a designer with a track record of great golf courses? If Union Bay goes ahead I bet my RT’s left nut it is superior to anything Eldrick puts his name to – unless he hires Doak, DMK, Hanse etc.

    I would also take either of the two gentleman above me over Woods or Nicklaus or their respective ghost writers.

  • I think Love did the AGN work so that the RCGA would feel obliged to give him a sponsor’s invite in a few years after he loses his card. (:

  • Matt: St. George’s — whether shortsighted or not — has stuck with Doug Carrick, though Doug didn’t do the work.

    Tighthead — My left nut? I didn’t know it was part of a negotiation. I’ll be carefully watching my privates in coming weeks…

    Mingay — Tiger’s work could be mindblowing, but I wouldn’t expect it to be. Strikes me as a self-serving attempt to try to get Tiger to play. And how far out would we be talking? 2014? Are the RCGA that desperate to have Tiger come? I think there’s a better chance one of the carmakers that sponsor a PGA Tour event, or one of the investment firms perhaps, goes bust and a new, better date opens up.

    This current ploy, however, smacks of desperation.

  • Mingay you obviously are misinformed. The Tour Pros attendance at The Canadian Open or lack of was not a result of Glen Abbey’s dislike. There was and is many other reasons. One being the taxation, prize money, poor dates, etc. Sponsorship to individual players (Buick) that the players have to support. Face it, this is Canada and to the Pro, a foreign country.
    The Open was regarded quite highly even tho some did not like Glen Abbey.
    Even the RCGA’s experiment with using older traditional golf course has failed miserably. The best we have had in the years of a September date and at a traditional course is 2 players in the Top 10 and really if you think about it the fields have been the “B” Team. Even this couldn’t get them to come.
    The best thing for the Open would be to have a permanent site and develop into an event that they want to come to. Look at the Wachovia Championship and it is on a marginal golf course at best. The Pro’s are treated extremely well and they love it.
    I hate to say it but the experience level of Canadian Designers (except for a few) is very limited. Maybe do 20 in their lifetime. Sorry, but fact are facts. Got to go outside. Maybe have a local help out.
    I hope the RCGA goes forward with this or something like this.

  • RT – I am not a gambler by nature so wouldn’t feel comfortable offering my own. You serve the greater good here – seemed like the right thing to do.

    We need courses designed for golfers, not Tour golfers.

  • George: Two names — Tom McBroom and Doug Carrick. I do think the Weir Golf Design firm should show interesting promise when it launches next year…

  • RT, you noticed I had an exception with the experience level.

    Weir Design, forget it. Every Designer in Canada provided him with a proposal for his project out west. Shows there is no focus on what he wants, still trying to define it.

    For some reason we just don’t know how to design and develop great golf courses. Maybe its the Canadian way of compromising. We almost get there but for some reason we waffle.

  • George,

    What does “experience level” have to do with designing/building a great golf course?

    There are many examples throughout the history of golf course architecture of designers doing their very best work early in their careers (perhaps Tiger will prove this to be true as well); and, many examples of “experienced” designers who’ve laid out 100s of courses, but not one which truly compares to the world’s best.

    Experience doesn’t hurt, but it’s more about pure, inherent talent, the way I see it.

  • While I agree with the knowledgeable owner bit, I do not agree with your statement that golf course designing is “pure, inherent talent”.

    Talent yes BUT it takes years and years of experience to develop it. Its more than an art form.

    You young pups have to apprentice. 🙂 Ummmm, say for 20 years.

    Also, purely subjective your comment about some do there best work early in their careers.

  • Matt: So do I. That said, I do wonder why the RCGA wouldn’t turn to one of the established Canadian designers. Why not celebrate a Tom McBroom or a Rod Whitman or a Doug Carrick? I know Doug’s work at Angus Glen wasn’t well received, but I don’t think that is indicative of his overall track record.

    And you and I agree McBroom is at the top of his game. Is he not considered because he’s been critical of the RCGA in the past?

    I just wonder what the point is of letting anyone know of prelimiary discussions with Woods’ people that will likely amount to nothing.

  • Doug Carrick or Tom McBroom have never been hired to design a course to host the Canadian Open. If the RCGA approached them about designing a course that had the main objective of holding the Open it would be a different course from the ones they design for other clients. At Angus Glen North, Carrick and Morrish were hired to design a course that could pump corporated events through fast. Many of the people who play in these events golf maybe once or twice a year. A course designed for corporate play is very different from one designed for an open championship.

    The RCGA (If they are even considering it) are not thinking of hiring Tiger to design a course because they think he is a good designer – it is because they think he would bring more flash and sizzle to the Canadian Open. It ain’t about design, it’s about Marketing. And the RCGA ain’t about supporting home grown talent in golf course design, they are all about star-fu__ing.

  • Old Tom, if by ‘star f’ing’ you mean doing all things possible to generate interest in the Canadian Open from both a fan and player perspective, then you are correct.

    It’s Tiger Woods for cryin’ out loud! There is not single event on tour that wouldn’t be interested having a ‘Tiger Woods golf course’ available to them.

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