Interesting to see the latest issue of Golf World, which includes Geoff Shackelford’s survey of PGA Tour pros commenting on what their favourite courses are. Two of the three regular courses for the Canadian Open do well: Vancouver’s Shaughnessy is at #7 and St. George’s, which held the tournament in 2010, is #22. Glen Abbey, which some at Golf Canada have insisted has had its reputation rehabilitated, sits well back at #40 of 52 courses.
The players have plenty of good things to say about Shaughnessy and St. George’s. A “good tough course,” is how Shaughnessy is characterized, while one pro said of St. George’s: “Love it as much as anything we play.” High praise indeed.
However, all three Canadian Open courses get shots for poor tournament setups. “I want to love it, but absurdly thick rough mowed toward the tees,” hurt St. George’s, says one pro, while another put down Shaughnessy saying, “Neat look to the place but way too much rough for such a potentially great design.”
I hadn’t heard such remarks about St. George’s, but several pros made comments about Shaughnessy.
Glen Abbey comes off worse: “Another place hemmed in and ruined by the setup,” adding “too much rough discouraging recoveries,” which is exactly how I felt about the Open at Shaughnessy last year.
So let’s get this straight — the rota of older courses is definitely a good thing for the Canadian Open. The players clearly respond to it — and I’m sure Hamilton will benefit from it again this year. However, we have to face up to the fact the Canadian Open isn’t the U.S. Open and the setup of the course not only turns some players off — not a good thing for a tournament that has always struggled to attract the best — but also makes the event less interesting. I found Shaughnessy dull to watch. As Geoff Ogilvy explained to me, in places where he could have taken a risky recovery shot, he was limited to pitching out sideways with a 60 degree wedge. Not exactly a lot of excitement in that.
What do I take away from Golf World’s article? That Golf Canada and sponsor RBC have to be careful not to allow the setups of the courses to be pushed too far. Bring recovery shots back to the fold. Make the tournament more exciting.
The Canadian Open isn’t the U.S. Open nor should it be.