There are a few myths to dispel today, among them the rumours that trolls routinely kick my golf ball into the woods before disappearing or that the golf course that rolls out its green carpet to a PGA Tour event has anything to do with the quality of field that actually plays the event.
We won’t elaborate on the first myth because anybody who has played with me will attest to the fact that it is definitely not a troll conspiracy to have my shots land in the rough or trees. The truth is that an alarm is sounded so squirrels and chipmunks can take cover as the tee’s going into the ground.
The reality is that the bloated numbers on the scorecard, much to the chagrin of woodland creatures, are the result of errant shots, with no feeble excuse legitimate enough to mask reality.
Similarly, the childlike innocence in which we want to believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy cannot hide the reality that the field at the just-concluded RBC Canadian Open was anything more than mediocre.
The host course was the venerable Hamilton Golf and Country Club, the peach among courses in the Canadian Open rotation in the eyes of many, a venue that has deservedly drawn flowery praise from many tour players who have walked its fairways.
Yet, despite giving tour players what they want with an outstanding venue that they say they want, imagine what the field would have looked like without players who have commitments to the title sponsor, RBC players such as the British Open champ Ernie Els, Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan and Jim Furyk?
Granted, there were some recognizable non-RBC players and U.S. Open champ Webb Simpson understandably backed out at the last minute to be on hand as his wife gave birth, but the field was largely generic, as was the top of the final leaderboard.
The good news is that such a situation can actually introduce spectators to developing Canadians when they’re not zeroed in on the marquee names of the PGA Tour.
The lack of brand power likely won’t change when the Open moves up the QEW to Glen Abbey in Oakville, Ont., for years the unofficial home of the national championship and one that often suffered the slings and arrows of derision from tour players.
To be blunt, let the players bitch. If Hamilton, a place they favour, draws mostly RBC marquee names and not many others, then don’t expect the situation to change at the Abbey. Business is business and the RBC stable will be on hand, whether they like the Abbey or not.
It’s all business, so let’s get past the concept that this is about the golf purist’s ideal that a golf course is the main factor in deciding the quality of the field. It may be one factor, but not the main one.
It was all business when the PGA Tour put our national championship, which was floundering at the time without a title sponsor, behind the British Open.
While people fixate on the British Open being in front of the Canadian event, they forget that there’s a World Golf Championship event behind our national championship, as well as the PGA Championship.
The addition of the FedEx Cup playoffs has only crammed the summer schedule even more and, given the small window we have to work with in Canada due to weather, there are few spots in the schedule that would be much better than the one we currently have.
It’s cold business to try to get as much out of the hot summer as possible and the PGA Tour has done that. Meanwhile, RBC and Golf Canada have done a lot to make the situation better from a Canadian Open perspective.
However, the players have a schedule full of big events to choose from and somewhere in there, they need to find time to spend with their families or do corporate events for their sponsors. Canadian Open time is perfect, no matter what golf course the event serves up.
It’s wonderful to have it at places such as Shaughnessy, Hamilton, St. George’s and Royal Montreal, which seems certain to host the 2014 Open, but the Abbey is a fine golf course with the added bonus of enhancing the fan experience with easy access from a major highway, good sightlines, crowd movement and options such as the concert series the Open ran the last time it was at the Abbey.
RBC can’t be expected to lock up every marquee player through endorsement deals, nor can a golf course assure a tournament of the tour’s top names.
What’s wrong with turning the attention away from the tour and its players and start focusing on people coming through the gate, the people who may actually be encouraged to pick up the clubs more frequently or for the first time? They are also the masses that RBC is attempting to get its message to, not the players.
Despite the criticism it’s received over the years, Glen Abbey should remain in the rotation for years to come. It’s no weak link.