G4G in the Globe: The Golf Tournament that Ate Islington

Portable buildings move up Islington in preparation for the RBC Canadian Open

Globe freelancer Ian Merringer interviewed me for a story about the impact of bringing the Canadian Open back to Toronto. The story can be found here in today’s Globe. I’m not a fan of media interviewing other reporters, but the story is interesting:

Just three years ago, the tournament had no major stars or sponsor, but this year at least eight of the top 25 players in the world are coming to test the course at St. George’s Golf and Country Club. The 101-year-old tournament sometimes travels from its home at Glen Abbey in Oakville to feature courses of distinction. St. George’s more than qualifies, ranking among the top three in Canada and top 100 around the world. Built in 1929, the course is considered a classic of traditional design, meaning the holes conform to the natural topography, instead of having been shaped by earth-movers. It’s a subtlety that the pros appreciate.

“It’s a classic parkland course,” explains Robert Thompson, a senior writer for ScoreGolf magazine. “One that fits into and makes ingenious use of its natural landscape.”

With up to 22,000 spectators expected each day, the confined course of St. George’s doesn’t have enough room to accommodate them, at least not in a way that allows RBC to recoup some of its sponsorship tab, rumoured to be in excess of $5-million.

My take on hosting the event in Toronto? I’m of the opinion that this is a great event that Toronto should be proud to host. In other words, those naysayers should shut it. I think the article makes my perspective clear:

Norm Petterson sunned himself in a lawn chair in the curb lane of Islington Avenue on Tuesday afternoon, while his children played soccer and tennis across the centerline of the usually busy street.

“It’s a nice change,” says Mr. Petterson, who will be volunteering as a course marshal when the tournament finally gets under way. “The street was full of people last evening, biking, skateboarding, walking.”

Mr. Petterson has the right attitude, Mr. Thompson says. The CBS broadcast will showcase a beautiful part of Toronto to millions of viewers and drive tourists and golfers to sink an estimated $20-million into the local economy.

“A road closure is a small sacrifice to host a world-class event that might only come around every 40 years,” says Mr. Thompson.

Whether commuters can come around to his way of thinking won’t be clear for another two weeks.

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Jeff Lancaster

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