Scott Simmons says he’s going to have to stretch a promise he made to name all the venues for the RBC Canadian Open right up to 2014 by the end of this year.
“I did say that because that was my personal goal to get that done. I don’t think we’re going to get there in terms of being able to announce it,” said the executive director of the Royal Canadian Golf Association yesterday.
“That being said though, there has been significant work done right through to 2014 and I’m pretty confident that we know where we’re going to be in 11, 12, 13 and 14. We may have some news before the end of the year, but if not, there will certainly be some news in early 2009,” said Simmons.
“I still want us to get ahead of the curve and be about five years down the road in terms of advanced planning for the Open,” he added.
There is a chance that the first announcement will include all four venues, but it’s more realistic to believe there will be two, even three, announcements that name a few at a time.
Negotiations continue, so things can still change, and there is always the question of the new
Terrebonne course near Montreal that has been penciled in as the site of the 2012 Open. Whether that happens or not depends on if it can finally get past the barriers that have slowed its development for years.
Simmons says that if you walked Terrebonne today, you would be able to make out the golf course visually and that finishing touches such as seeding are supposed to get started when the snow melts next year.
“I personally love the layout. If it gets finished, it’s going to be a magnificent golf course,” said Simmons. “A lot of new golf courses, when they open, you can tell they’re brand new. This is a course that, when it’s open, will literally look like it’s been there 100 years.”
With Glen Abbey in Oakville, Ont., hosting the Open next year and Toronto’s St. George’s on deck for 2010, the Terrebonne project, at this point, looks to occupy one of the remaining four Opens leading up to 2014.
Whether it sits well with westerners remains to be seen, but there will only be one venue west of Ontario used before 2014. Simmons is in a bind on this subject because, while many critics say the Open should be rotated around the country, the RCGA needs to look behind the scenes at tournament infrastructure.
The only one that fits the bill, according to Simmons, is Shaughnessy in Vancouver, which hosted the Open three years ago. “I’ve gone on record as saying that I don’t think there are other clubs out in Western Canada right now that can host the Open when you think of all the various criteria,” he said.
“That doesn’t say that somebody, if they are willing to invest in some changes to their course, couldn’t bring it up to speed, but as it stands right now, I would say no. We really don’t have a venue that would work today, other than Shaughnessy,” said Simmons.
“Shaughnessy proved itself in 2005 as a very capable venue, most importantly from the players’ perspective. It was voted the top new course on the PGA Tour that year by the players.
“Shaughnessy is a course that we’re now familiar with. We know we can host it there from an operational point of view and the players love it.”
When the final putt drops at the 2010 Open at St. George’s, it will mark the fifth consecutive year in which it was played in Southern Ontario, so the following year seems to be prime time for a British Columbia Open before the tournament moves east again.
With Terrebonne penciled in for 2012, a couple of old favourites may be put into the mix, with the Open moving back to Ontario in 2013 at the Hamilton Golf and Country Club and returning to Quebec in 2014 at Royal Montreal, the site of last year’s Presidents Cup.
Those are the unofficial, purely speculative picks from here – Glen Abbey in ’09, St. George’s (2010), Shaughnessy (2011), Terrebonne (2012), Hamilton (2013) and Royal Montreal (2014). At least, I know I’ve got the first two right.
Meanwhile, the wait continues for official results from the RCGA to see if the rest are correct.