This week’s RBC Canadian Open promises to be a showcase at one of Canada’s venerable beauties, the St. George’s Golf and Country Club in Toronto, which I’m expecting will work its way into the hearts of players and golf fans who visit and watch on television.
The last time the Open was played at St. George’s was in 1968, so it’s a complete mystery to the players coming in, but the course itself should come out of it with the same reputation as the Hamilton Golf and Country Club or Shaughnessy, two clubs that also recently worked themselves back into the Open rotation.
As you’ve been reading in GNN guest blogs from general manager Joe Murphy and superintendent Keith Bartlett, St. George’s has the support of its members and the desire of the staff to make this a memorable week after the club faced some unique challenges in its Open preparations.
A lot has changed in the 42 years since the Open was held at St. George’s, located in an established area of west end Toronto, and a PGA Tour event is an entirely different entity than it was in 1968, meaning the grand old club has had to adjust for the tour’s arrival.
The driving range has been moved to nearby Islington Golf Club to accommodate the needs of today’s players, who will need to be shuttled between clubs for practice. Islington Avenue, which runs alongside St. George’s distinctive clubhouse, has been shut down and traffic has been diverted.
Parking will be at a premium and only about 22,000 fans will be on hand daily, which is considerably less than a stadium course such as Glen Abbey. Assuming it all works out, this year’s Open at St. George’s brings up an interesting point.
Since 1977, the Open has been held at just five different golf courses – Glen Abbey, Royal Montreal, Angus Glen, Hamilton and Shaughnessy – and for most of that time, the Abbey was the home of the Open.
The last time the Open was held outside of Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia was the 1961 edition, which was played at Winnipeg’s Niakwa Country Club. In its entire history, the Open has been played outside of those three provinces on just four occasions.
The reason given by Golf Canada for so few courses hosting the Open, at least in recent years, has been the lack of infrastructure at most facilities to host a PGA Tour event properly. So does that change considering the challenges faced at St. George’s, assuming everything goes smoothly this week?
That’s the topic of this week’s GNN Poll.
Do the logistical challenges faced by St. George’s illustrate that more courses are capable of hosting the RBC Canadian Open?
Be sure to cast your vote at the GNN Poll on the home page and, by all means, expand your thoughts in the Comments section below.