When the greatest show on earth from a golfing perspective rolls into town, whether it’s St. George’s in Toronto this year or Shaughnessy in Vancouver in 2011, the denizens of this fine pastime tend to fall all over themselves in going goo-gah for the PGA Tour.
It’s natural, I suppose, considering the obsession our society has with celebrities, but despite the superlatives launched by the media and the fans who arrive with wide eyes at the thought of seeing the world’s best up close and personal, the PGA Tour is just one aspect of the game.
After Carl Pettersson’s victory on Sunday, the PGA Tour is gone for another year, but the tour continues within our borders, one in which Mike Weir, Stephen Ames, Graham DeLaet, Chris DiMarco, Steve Stricker and Adam Hadwin have played.
Wait a minute … Adam Hadwin?
If you are familiar with that name, it’s likely because the 22-year-old from Abbotsford, B.C., became a fan favourite at the just-concluded RBC Canadian Open and not because he’s also a solid player on the Canadian Tour.
Hadwin made a fine showing with his five-under score at the Open to earn low Canadian honours and he said that one of his objectives was illustrating that the Canadian Tour deserves every one of the six exemptions it receives into the Open.
Hadwin and his tour colleagues did just that at the Open, but will now fade into anonymity again on the tour which, after a western swing, makes a trip through Southern Ontario in August at the Jane Rogers Championship, Seaforth Country Classic and the Canadian Tour Championship.
Despite being in one of the most populated areas of Canada, the tour is likely to be greeted by sparse galleries, nothing close to what Hadwin and the others saw at the Open. Fans of “big league” golf are content to wait until players get to the big leagues, with no desire to support them in their formative years.
Then, they wonder when Canada doesn’t have many players on the PGA Tour – or LPGA Tour for that matter.
As you can tell, the PGA Tour isn’t the ultimate for me because, from an industry perspective, we should be promoting the recreational side of the game in order to grow it.
That’s where the interest is in a country that has nearly six million golfers, with countless other potential recreational players who pay for instruction and green fees and buy a beer and a hot dog from food and beverage operations.
Professional golf is just one aspect of the game, but it does have a role in the sense that success does breed success and when somebody such as Mike Weir wins the Masters, it creates a higher interest in the game. However, most Canadians didn’t know Weir until he made it to the PGA Tour.
PGA Tour success is rooted in development, all the way down to the amateur levels and the Canadian Tour is an important step up the ladder to the highest levels of the game. The industry has a stake in how it does in this mission, but doesn’t go out of its way to promote it.
After his impressive showing at the Open, Hadwin talked about the importance of the Canadian Tour to developing players in my Sun Media column. You can read that by clicking here.