Visionary that he is in Canadian golf, Mike Schurman submitted this blog last week about the inevitability of golf courses being replaced by housing developments and Glen Abbey in Oakville is one of several golf course he mentioned.
The blog was originally scheduled to run on Friday, but due to a busy schedule, I delayed posting it until Sunday afternoon and the timing was perfect because news broke the very next day that ClubLink had begun the long, arduous process towards building about 3,000 residential units, as well as retail space.
Last week marked the day that Marty McFly and Doc arrived in the future, so I’m wondering if Schurman got into the DeLorean when they weren’t looking and went ahead a few days to see what the perfect timing would be for his blog.
Perhaps, he should have gone a bit further because it should be stressed that Monday’s announcement is no guarantee that the Jack Nicklaus design and home to so many Canadian Opens will be bulldozed. It does, however, add some validity to a rumour that has been circulating for years.
If development of the Abbey does move forward, which will likely be the case, it has to be good news for Barry Ehlert, managing partner of the Windmill Group, which is building the much-heralded Mickelson National in Calgary, which is expected to become at least a regular stop for the RBC Canadian Open once it opens.
Mickelson National is being built with the spectator experience in mind and should Glen Abbey disappear as a golf course, it increases the chance of the Canadian Open not only being played there, but also being played there frequently as part of the rotation with other courses around the country.
It’s unlikely that ClubLink will take itself out of the Canadian Open rotation as Rai Sahi, CEO of ClubLink, has made it clear over the years that he supports the Open being played at a ClubLink facility, which would seem impossible with the Abbey gone.
ClubLink aside, neither RBC nor Golf Canada will want to keep Toronto out of the running and, as it stands right now, there are few venues in around the GTA capable of hosting the Open on a regular basis and providing a premier experience for spectators and corporations.
If Sahi is determined to have the Open at a ClubLink facility, which one?
There isn’t one that comes to mind right now, so a considerable investment would be required for acquisition or at least a complete overhaul of an existing ClubLink operation, but development of the Abbey, where the land is worth more than 10 times what it was when ClubLink purchased it from the RCGA in 1999, will provide more than enough cash.
Here’s one that will receive consideration and it isn’t far from the Abbey with access from the Queen Elizabeth Way and Hwy. 401 near Milton, Ont. Please, before you throw something at me for floating this suggestion, hear me out.
How does the RBC Canadian Open at RattleSnake Point sound?
Remember your promise.
RattleSnake Point contains 36 holes and a nine-hole academy course, not to mention a huge practice facility and large clubhouse on plenty of land that offers plenty of space for corporate tents, television and other infrastructure concerns, as well as a championship 18-hole golf course scaled down from what’s there now.
In the real estate market around Toronto these days, it’s highly unlikely ClubLink would want to go into acquisition mode and during this year’s Open at the Abbey, a rumour circulated that its original designer, Jack Nicklaus, may be brought in for a redesign, but that’s unlikely to happen given recent headlines.
How about a brand new golf course? If that becomes reality, Rattlesnake Point becomes the new crown jewel for ClubLink as a regular RBC Canadian Open venue?
Call it speculation, but even a few months ago, we would roll our eyes at the latest rumour about Glen Abbey being developed. That all changed Monday, even if there is a long way to go with zoning, protests from nearby residents, etc., but in the end, the developers usually win in Ontario.
This will be the first time you’ve heard about RattleSnake Point, but it’s likely to come back from time to time. If it is to become reality, it might be a good plan to put Schurman back into the DeLorean and go find out.