The shuttle from the parking lot into Glen Abbey for this year’s RBC Canadian Open would drop us off in the parking lot of Golf House and from there, it would be a five to 10-minute walk up to the media room downstairs at the clubhouse.
Walking that road by the 16th green was a great way to start the day, I remember thinking, a bit of peace before arriving at the media centre, which was a tent back in the parking lot for a few years, before returning to the media room that I remembered when the Open wasn’t just played frequently at the Abbey, but every year.
Back then, it was played in early September, hardly prime time, but not behind the British Open as it is today, and for somebody who started in this business hammering out stories on a typewriter, there is an absence of characters who have moved on to the next realm, but remain with us in thoughts and hearts in those familiar surroundings.
Larger than life were those characters, but memories forged at the Abbey were also about events – its designer Jack Nicklaus coming so close to winning but falling short, Hurricane Fran shortening the tournament to 54 holes in 1996 and more storms forcing a Monday finish in 2009.
There was Mike Weir’s magnificent run in 2004 before losing in a playoff to Vijay Singh and David Hearn coming oh-so-close last year. Richard Zokol went into the final round in 1987 tied for the lead, but Pat Fletcher remains the last Canadian to win the national title, that coming in 1954.
I suppose the consensus favourite memory was Tiger Woods’ shot out of the bunker on 18 to win in 2000, but whatever comes to mind, there is no shortage of memories at the Abbey, whether you like the course or not. If nothing else, it does provide a superior spectator experience.
ClubLink ended years of speculation last week when it began the process of replacing the Abbey with high-ended residential units and while the cold-hearted said that’s fine, bulldoze it and do what you’ve got to do, others fondly remembered the people and events at the Abbey as I did above.
The thing about homes is that you purchase them with an eye to the future, perhaps kids and grandkids and all the events and wonderful memories that take place within those walls, but you store all of that in your heart and your mind when you sell, usually with significant profit as your life begins to change.
That’s really what ClubLink or Morguard, a major real estate developer, is doing with the Abbey. The fact is that with real estate values through the roof, ClubLink would be harder pressed to explain why it wouldn’t develop the Abbey as opposed to why it would. It’s doing what most of us will do at one point with our homes.
It has been stressed since this news broke that this is only the beginning of a long process, with hearings and approvals and protests that are sure to come from nearby residents, so development could be a long time coming, if it comes at all.
I see it happening faster than most. ClubLink/Morguard will want premium value in a red-hot market and developers rarely lose in Ontario these days, when listening to neighbours is usually a token effort. The people who complain are usually shrugged off as NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard).
As for golf and the Canadian Open, the popular theory is that ClubLink will turn one of its existing courses into an Abbey 2.0. Most seem to believe that location will be Hidden Lake in nearby Burlington, but for the reasons I gave in this blog, I see it being RattleSnake Point, also nearby in Milton.
Not surprisingly, this story has drawn a lot of attention, but the fact is that golf courses are being replaced by housing developments frequently in Oakville, the Greater Toronto Area, Ontario and across the country. Mike Schurman talked about that in this blog from last week.
While you understand a golf course owner wanting a significant return on the original investment, one overlooked aspect of such deals is often the lost jobs in the golf industry. The flip side of that is that jobs are also created through construction etc., but you can’t help but feel for people in the industry who find themselves unemployed.
That brings us to this week’s GNN Poll. Do you see the golf operation where you’re employed to be replaced by a development anytime soon?
You can vote below or on the GNN home page and, as always, feel free to add your thoughts on this subject in the Comments section below.
Are you concerned that you’ll hear that the golf operation where you work will be replaced by a residential or commercial development in the next five years?
- Not at all. (64%)
- Very concerned. (22%)
- Somewhat concerned. (14%)