In the current GNN Poll, 50 per cent of readers believe RBC and the Royal Canadian Golf Association have done an excellent job with the Canadian Open the past couple of years, while 39 per cent say they are doing a good job.
Six per cent say it’s a fair job, while five per cent believe the RCGA/RBC are doing a poor job.
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem goes along with the general belief that the Open is in good hands.
“The first thing, and I think most important, is I don’t recall a time in my tenure where we’ve had a better relationship between ourselves, the title sponsor and the RCGA,” said Finchem on Wednesday.
“I mean, it really is working very, very well,” said Finchem. “The leadership of the RCGA, I think Scott (executive director Simmons) has done a tremendous job.
“The executive leadership at RBC is absolutely committed to the event in creating value out of this investment,” said Finchem, adding that the Open has taken its charitable contribution and economic impact to new levels these past few years.
“I spent some time with (RBC president and chief executive officer) Gordon Nixon this morning. RBC is really focused on generating value from all the potentials that there are in this relationship. In my experience, when companies do that effectively, there’s a lot of continuity going forward, so that’s encouraging.”
RBC has indeed pulled the Open out of an unsure, and possibly short, future a couple of years ago when Canada’s lone PGA Tour stop was on life support.
With its interests outside of Canada, RBC was able to take advantage of American television coverage, while other potential sponsors were not structured that way.
Those interests outside of Canada also allowed RBC to put its logo on the golf bag of American Anthony Kim, who is playing this week at Glen Abbey, and sponsor the Stephen Ames Cup, an annual junior competition between Canada and Trinidad and Tobago.
Yesterday, Ames was named an RBC torch bearer through Calgary for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
“The second thing I’ll mention is that I think it’s important to note the economic impact of this week will be very solid,” said Finchem.
“On the charity side, all of us involved in the PGA Tour, who are so committed to charity, we’re very pleased that the RCGA and RBC are repositioning the charitable focus by setting the goal of $5-million for five years to help kids,” he added.
That charitable aspect of the tournament hit close to home with the Mike Weir Foundation, which aids children’s charities, becoming the main charitable benefactor. The Open was also highlighted by the Monday Mike Weir Charity Classic, which drew celebrities such as Kevin Costner and Michael Jordan.
“We’re very pleased,” said Finchem. “Gordon Nixon went out this morning. I think we spoke to 26 players, everybody in the morning flight of the pro-am.
“The players are very pleased with the golf course, the condition of the golf course. They recognize the uptake in the quality of the tournament.”
Ames agrees, saying he’s noticed more of a buzz this year.
“Without a doubt,” he said. “I think it’s the fact that probably RBC has kind of manhandled things and gone about doing it their way to get the event spruced up.
“I thought it was a wonderful idea having the Mike Weir charity event on Monday, bringing the celebrities in and everything else. It definitely did spruce it up for a Monday. We had 10,000 people watching the playoff.
“That’s phenomenal. Now it’s definitely feeling a little more like a national open should feel, which is great,” said Ames, adding that non-Canadians are noticing as well.
“I looked at the field and I was like, `Wow, what a good field we have here this week.’ That’s nice to see,” he said.
Certainly, one factor that would surely improve the calibre of the field is shucking these brutal dates right behind the British Open and Finchem has indicated a potential solution is being discussed although he’s not sure when it would be instituted.
“We talk about dates all the time, with every tournament,” he said.
One of the things we’re looking at in the mid-term, which would be after our television agreements are renewed — which are through (2012), so starting in ’13 — is going to perhaps more of a flex schedule where we actually move some tournaments around to two or three dates, so that they can take advantage of reaching more players.
“I think that would be particularly beneficial, potentially, for this week because it would be good for this tournament to be able to reach more players with what’s going on this week,” he added.
“I can’t swear we’re going to go to that. There are a lot of issues with it. There are some down sides to some weeks, but it’s something we’re looking very carefully at,” said Finchem.
“We’ve had some very preliminary discussions with the RCGA and RBC. We’ll be talking about that more over the next six months, but that is certainly something we’ll look at going forward as a possibility.”
It would be the final test before the RCGA and RBC got an A for their efforts.