My own opinion is that, when all is said and done, the St. George’s Golf and Country Club in Toronto will prove to be a great venue for this year’s RBC Canadian Open.
Personally, I’ve always thought St. George’s is one of the top courses in Canada. I’ve been on a lot of ranking panels and I’ve always ranked it No. 1 or close to No. 1.
I think the Canadian Open will be good for St. George’s, as well. The members and management of the club think they’ve got a great golf course and hosting the Open almost validates what they’re thinking.
First of all, being selected as the host course is no small feat. The last 30 or 40 years, how many courses have hosted the Open because of Glen Abbey’s long tenure as host, so that’s quite a coup to start.
Secondly, hosting the Open validates that home course pride if the PGA Tour and Golf Canada feels that you have a great golf course.
The last validation will come from PGA Tour players and I really feel that the players are going to love St. George’s. I love the older courses, too.
When the Hamilton Golf and Country Club was used for the first time in decades back in 2003, some of the critics said it was too short or whatever. The players got there and just loved it. I really feel the players will love St. George’s too.
Hosting the Open will be a challenge. Your staff has to look at it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be involved in the biggest show on earth for golf – the PGA Tour. When I was at Angus Glen and we hosted the Open, I felt we had one of the best staffs ever and they were ready for it.
You’ve got to be motivated. You know it’s going to be long days, long hours, but the PGA Tour is coming to your course and it’s an experience that, 50 years from now, you can remember fondly.
It may be long days and long hours, but it’s worth every second of it. The staff will see the volunteers there and say, `Wow, there are so many volunteers here and they’re not getting paid and they’re happy to be here.’
The young people who have been working for just a short time can put their experience on their resumes and the people who have worked there a long time can say, `This was a real experience for me. Now, my time is complete.’
For the members, they all feel their course is the best. They may have friends at nearby private clubs such as Toronto Golf Club or Mississaugua. Hosting the Open gives them some bragging rights.
Having the Open at an older club such as St. George’s has presented a few unique challenges and, as a result, nearby Islington Avenue will near to be shut down, transit will be rerouted and players will be shuttled to nearby Islington Golf Club to practice.
That’s balanced by a great golf course, a beautiful clubhouse and a wonderful history. I think the positives will eradicate any of the logistical challenges.
There are going to be challenges and we know it, but I really feel that all of the positives to hosting the Open at St. George’s will outweigh any of those challenges.