As part of his role as tournament director of the RBC Canadian Open, Bill Paul endures questions to which he has no definitive answers, which was the case as Canada’s only PGA Tour stop wound down at St. George’s Golf and Country Club on Sunday.
One of those questions was whether the 2010 host club would be back in the tournament rotation anytime soon, considering the logistical challenges facing the club in bringing the Open back for the first time since 1968.
What Paul did know was that the course itself held up despite the humidity and occasional rain that softened it and the challenges of moving the range to nearby Islington Golf Club, the closure of Islington Ave and running a PGA Tour event in a residential area were, for the most part, overcome.
“From a member standpoint, it’s probably too early. I know the ones that we’re close to like all the committee members, the chairman, the club staff that we talk to, I mean everyone’s ecstatic about it,” said Paul.
“The golf course showed up incredibly well on television, the operation of the thing is great, so I don’t know if anybody from working on 2010 can be unhappy with it. As far as talking about coming back, that’s a ways away,” he added.
“It’s tough logistically. I’m not going to try and deny it, but before the club has to agree to it, the No. 1 reason why we’re here (in 2010) is the city. If they’re not going to close Islington and do all the things that we went through at the beginning, then you could never do it here,” said Paul.
“From our standpoint, there are a bunch of other dominos that are going to fall,” he said.
That last line pretty well describes the immediate future of Canada’s national championship, which added the much-heralded Hamilton Golf and Country Club back into the mix for venues with the announcement that it will host the 2012 event.
Then, there’s a nice wild card with Glen Abbey in Oakville, Ont. Golf Canada is contractually obligated to have an Open there before 2015, so right now, there’s an option for either 2013 or 2014.
Right now, 2013 is a good bet because of some important events that will take place the year before and the Abbey could be ready in a pinch..
In 2012, the PGA Tour will be tinkering with the schedule and it appears that there will be some major changes, so the contentious issue of the Open’s date will be on the table. The current slot behind the British Open is a sore point with many, but what’s the option? Whatever it is, it will affect future tournament sites.
“We’re moving the Open to Vancouver and Montreal and this and that. June typically doesn’t work in some parts of the country. September may work better,” said Paul.
On the current schedule, a busy summer features World Golf Championships and majors. Hosting the Open on Canada Day has often been mentioned, but it often runs into the Fourth of July in the United States, which means many American players won’t cross the border to play on their national holiday.
Paul’s point is that Golf Canada has to carefully consider all options in 2012, but there are too many variables at this point to even take an educated guess on either dates or future sites. That’s why the focus right now is for Golf Canada and RBC to work on making what they have right now work better.
“I always liked Canada Day, national championship, but so many times, the July 4 holiday falls in that week. I wouldn’t do it. It would not be my choice,” said Paul, adding that it could very well be a whole, new world on the PGA Tour by 2012.
“I’ve got to believe it’s going to be, but I don’t know that for a fact,” he said. “I don’t know what the schedule’s going to look like. Will there be changes? Absolutely. I can’t imagine it’s going to stay the same.
“I think we have a strong enough sponsor. I think we’re doing a lot of things right. Hopefully, that will bear some fruit when the new schedule comes out in ’12,” he said.
“There are still challenges, but we always thought, `Let’s make what we have better.”
Who knows? The Canadian Open may still be behind the British Open at that point, but the decisions that can be made about the Open’s immediate future are limited until these dominos fall into place.
Meanwhile, the speculation will continue about where the tournament is headed next and Paul’s answers will have to remain, at best, a definite maybe.