In an interesting piece that reader Neo pointed out, Kent Gilchrist in Vancouver has posted an interesting story to Canada.com about the split between former PGA Tour pro Richard Zokol and the RCGA. In 2008, with some fanfare, the RCGA asked Zokol to come on as a consultant. Without as much as a mention, it didn’t renew the deal with Zokol this year.
According to Zokol, an independent thinker, the decision might have had something to do with stirring things up at the RCGA.
“I interviewed all the players and talked to a lot of other people,” said Zokol. “The staff was very leery of me because I’m going to tell it like it is.
“They wanted me to endorse what they were doing and I told Scott (executive director Simmons, whom Zokol says he has a `great relationship with’) that I cannot endorse it. It hasn’t been successful for 10 years. It isn’t going to work now. It should be blown up and they should start over. The bottom line is I think the RCGA is out of touch.”
Hmmm. Interestingly, Scott Simmons has had a pretty safe ride since coming on as executive director in 2007. That’s not surprising, he is smart and honest. But there are rumblings behind the scenes from industry insiders these days — about the decision to bring Peri Luel on to run commercial operations without joining the RCGA full-time, and slow revenue growth (up only $2.5 million last year, despite RBC joining as sponsor of the Canadian Open). The loss last year was $2.4 million, and the RCGA can’t sustain that for long (though if that’s a steep drop from a $5million loss the year previous). Even its professional tournaments — which includes the Canadian Open and the CN Womens Open — ran at a slight loss last year, likely due to poor weather at Glen Abbey. The entire RCGA financial statement for 2008 can be found here.
That’s not the focus of Gilchrist’s piece, which really jabs at the RCGA’s failure to find the next Mike Weir. Of course this story was written before the NCAA win of Matt Hill…
The overwhelming reason for the RCGA to listen to what he has to say, of course, is that their own player development program has been a failure. A decade after the program was instituted, the only honest to goodness Canadian on the PGA Tour is Mike Weir. Stephen Ames lives in Calgary and has taken Canadian citizenship, but he learned to play in Trinidad & Tobago. None of the RCGA national team members of the past have advanced past the Nationwide or Canadian Tours. David Hearn and Jon Mills have been up for a year and so has 49- year-old Jim Rutledge, but the Victoria native predated RCGA help.
What is the RCGA saying? It needs more time according to Doug Roxburgh.
RCGA director of high performance Doug Roxburgh thinks the program needs more time to work.
“We’ll just have to wait and see. There are a lot of good players in the pipeline,” he said. “There’s not much else we can say. We’ve had a lot of discussions with Dick. He knows where we stand. Dick and the RCGA have agreed to disagree.”
Now Doug is a great player, but maybe time isn’t what the program needs now. Of course with the success of Nick Taylor and Hill, it’ll surely give some at the RCGA some time, for better or worse.
Gilchrist’s whole story is here.