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Canadians on Tour; Rubenstein on the greens

Quiet week from a Canadian perspective as Mike Weir is skiing and Stephen Ames has been hanging out in Hawaii. But neither won last year — so neither is playing in the season opening Mercedes Championship, which is probably just as well given that Geoff Ogilvy is running away with the tournament anyway.

Both players will be in the field in Palm Springs to kick off the Bob Hope . Interesting to see that Weir has decided to make a public statement about the replacing of George Lopez as the host of the tournament. Weir won’t play in the celebrity component of the even because he was unhappy that Lopez’s role has been usurped (according to GolfDigest.com):

Arnold Palmer, who won the first Hope 50 years ago, is coming back this month to serve as honorary host of the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, and that’s a nice touch. Palmer replaces, at least in title, comedian George Lopez, who was unceremoniously dumped after tournament officials were somehow shocked to learn that Lopez tends to track toward, well, edgy humor, even though that’s been his act his entire career. Lopez had many fans among the players, including former champion Mike Weir, who isn’t going to play in the celebrity field to make his feelings known.

Since Weir has rarely — if ever — courted controversy, it is interesting to see him sticking his neck out on this one, if only in his own cautious way.

One Canadian playing this week is London, Ont. resident Alan McLean, who has been in South Africa since the start of December playing on the European Tour. McLean, who is playing on a medical exemption, finished in the Top 10 at the Alfred Dunhill, and looks like he’ll be in the Top 30 for the third straight tournament. He has ground to make up, having a limited number of tournaments in which he’ll gain entrance, but this week’s tournament, the Joburg Open, shows McLean having a strange week. He has three eagles on the week and an ace during the first round, but will still finish week back. He’s also averaging over 300 yards on his tee shots. His scorecard — strange as it is — can be found here.

UPDATE: Missed Graham Delaet’s participation in the event. He eventually finished 12th, which is a terrific showing. Can’t quite figure out what Graham, who is from Saskatchewan, is doing in South Africa. Last year, he struggled on the Canadian Tour before playing well at the end of the season. Money was also an issue, as was his putter. But it came around and he played well at the World Cup event in China. However, a 12th place showing won’t get him into the next European Tour event, so it’ll be interesting to see what he does next. However, you’ve got to figure with the Canadian Tour moving to South America and Mexico for early season events, neither of which are inexpensive in terms of travel, perhaps more Canadians will consider the Sunshine Tour in South Africa as a viable option.

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Lorne Rubenstein in the Globe writes a column about green speeds vs. slope.

The essence of his article is this:

Greens should never be that treacherous. They should be challenging, and stimulate creative rather than fearful putting. That transpires when there’s a balance between contour and speed. As much as possible, greens ought to be smooth. But that doesn’t have to mean slippery trickery.

Rubenstein argues that in our quest to find speed in greens, we’re losing great pin positions at classic courses.

He also drops this interesting element in the column, suggesting Mike Weir and his newly-formed Weir Golf Design, should involve itself in prepping St. George’s G&CC for the 2010 Canadian Open:

What about the green speed for the 2010 RBC Canadian Open at St. George’s in Toronto, where preparations have started? Will the speeds be pushed so far that it will be impossible to use some hole locations on the beautifully meandering greens that Stanley Thompson designed?

Mike Weir played the course for the first time on the Monday of the 2008 Canadian Open. He was concerned about what could happen if the greens get too fast.

“There’s some pretty severe greens [and it would be] unfortunate if you couldn’t put the pins over there if the greens were Tour speed, because there’s some pins you couldn’t use,” Weir said. “No way.”

Weir said he wouldn’t mind if the greens were slower to allow more hole locations.

St. George’s and the PGA Tour could make an important statement if the greens were kept at a sensible speed. In fact, Weir himself, along with Brantford, Ont., architect Ian Andrew should take a stand and argue for that. Why Andrew? You can take it to the bank that Weir has picked him as his design associate for his fledgling architecture business.

“Remember, every time you raise the speed, you lose area which can be fairly pinned,” Andrew once wrote in a blog.

Interesting remarks re: Andrew. Nothing official as far as I know has been announced re: designer for Weir Golf Design, so I’m neither confirming nor denying… but the I think the idea of dealing with green speeds at St. George’s is a PGA Tour matter and even Weir won’t have influence there. Now if St. George’s could be talked into rebuilding the third green…

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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.

11 CommentsLeave a comment

  • He was playing the West course and its a 206 par 3.

    Interesting to see him playing under the scottish flag on the euro tour. He was born there and wants to keep his ryder cup hopes alive.

    -SD

  • Thompson…..

    Maybe Santa should have brought you ‘spell check’ and a grammar book for Christmas or even reading glasses to review what you wrote…

    1) if only in his own ‘caustious’ way.

    2) in fact, Weir himself, along with Brantford, Ont.{, } architect Ian Andrew should take a stand and argue for that.

    Should read—-in fact, Weir himself, along with Brantford, Ont. architect{,} Ian Andrew{,} should take a stand and argue for that.

    Maybe that’s why you do not write for the Globe and Mail!!!…….

  • JD: Thanks for taking over as my spell check. The fact is the one on WordPress doesn’t work and I couldn’t be bothered to write this post in Word.

    But on the second note, about why I don’t write for the Globe and Mail, you might want to note that’s a direct quote from Lorne’s story in the Globe. I’ll leave you to think through your remark based on that…

  • I think Lorne Rb. makes a good point about the green speed, but he also seems to forget that the players are the first to whine and complain when the greens aren’t up to their speeds.

    I’ve been a member at St. Georges for more than two decades and I’ve had memberships at other private clubs around the GTA and in the U.S. What people like LR and the PGA tour reps seem to misunderstand or forget is that it is a privilege for them to hold a tournament at OUR club(s). The membership very kindly gives up the use of our club and course and ALLOWS a tournament to be held on our property. There is very little up-side to a private club that holds a PGA tournament.

    They should accept the conditions of the golf course the way that the club has them prepared, they should not come in and make demands about green speed, rough height, bunker sand quality etc. etc. etc.

    Just because Mike Weir has decided to play around at golf course design to add another revenue stream to his shirts, hats, and wines, doesn’t mean St. Georges is going to invite him in to play around with our course, or make recommendations on what we should do with OUR course. We have an architect, he is one of the best Canada if not the world, he is a very well respected senior member of the Society of Golf Course Architects and he is not some golf pro turned designer with dollars signs in his eyes.

    Just put the ball in the hole Mike, that’s your job.

  • Dear Kingsway,

    Doug Carrick is the consulting architect to St. George’s, but the work was conducted by Ian Andrew, working for Doug at the time. Both are strong architects and both are members of the “American Society of Golf Course Architects.”

    What you should do with “YOUR” course is to fix the third green, which is one swinging tire short of a mini-putt. The remainder of St. George’s is tremendous.

    Is it a privilege for the PGA Tour to hold the Canadian Open at St. George’s? I suppose it is. But in this current economic market, the $750K the club will get from the tournament won’t hurt St. George’s either.

    I think this CanOpen deal is a two-way street.

    Signed.

    The MGMT

  • Have to agree with RT on his last two points re: St. George’s.

    From any pics I’ve seen, the original 3rd at St. G was a fantastic hole with incredible bunkering. The hole should be restored and Ian Andrew should be doing the work.

  • RT,

    Is the 750,000.00 some kind of estimate of revenues from hosting a Canadian Open, or are you saying they get paid by someone for hosting the Open?

  • Old Tom,

    As I understand it, other clubs have had to pay to get the Open at their course, so I don’t see how anybody would be paying St. Georges to host the Open. The $750,000.00 must be some kind of guess at the revenues from the tournament. Seeing as how the Canadian Open has been losing money for as long as anyone can remember, I don’t think there is anybody who makes money from it.

    I think Kingsway makes a good point, the clubs that host this tournament do it very generously and they should not be told they have to do certain things to “bring it up to standard”.

    If you think the 3rd green at St Georges should be changed RT, there is a simple way for it to happen:

    Pay your initiation fee to join St. Georges.

    Get yourself on the greens commitee.

    Eventually get yourself to be greens chairman, and then put forward that the membership should consider changing the 3rd green.

    See……….. easy.

  • The only clubs that have “paid” to host the Open are Angus Glen — you get whacked with few bucks in fees for that every time you play there.

    Every private club — including Glen Abbey — gets paid to host the tournament. That’s pretty standard. You think Hamilton and St. George’s are doing this out of the goodness of their collective hearts or some altruistic concept to help the game? I’m sure there’s some of both — but there’s also lots of cold, hard cash.

    As for joining a greens committee and negotiating changes with a dentist who has seen six courses but has a lot of ideas how a course should be changed to suit his game, well, I’d rather have my molars pulled without anaesthetic.

    St. George’s needs to change its third green — there’s a good chance that hole becomes a joke at the open because of the awful putting surface. Which would be a shame since the hole is otherwise excellent and the course is terrific. If the members can’t see this for themselves, then perhaps they need to open their eyes, or maybe they forget about it because it comes after the astounding second and early in the round.

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