Joe Murphy is general manager of the St. George’s Golf and Country Club, the host site of the 2010 RBC Canadian Open in Toronto. Murphy will contribute a guest blog each week about operations at the host club leading up to the national championship.
I think what the RBC Canadian Open does for the St. George’s Golf and Country Club is two things.
One is that it’s seen from a member’s perspective and hopefully by the community that we really are helping out our national Open by providing what we believe to be a championship course that has stood the test of time to the best professional players in the world and the amateurs who will participate.
I think that’s first and foremost from a reputation standpoint. We really are conscious of wanting to be involved in the golfing community and the local community around Toronto.
The Open will also introduce St. George’s to the world. Nationally, St. George’s has always had a good reputation in terms of the quality of the golf course. It’s pretty regularly positioned in the top three in Canada.
I really believe what this will do for St. George’s, though it’s been ranked in the top 100 in the world, is elevate our position on the international level. The Open is televised around the world, so what I think it really does is put the club on the map in terms of international exposure.
The members who play a lot of other courses around North America and abroad think this is one of the best courses to play anywhere. Some of our members are trying to play the top 100 in the world, so they are exposed to the great golf courses and come back and rave about this place.
In terms of its ability to compete at that level, it really is a gem that’s well-known in Canada, but perhaps not as well-exposed as it really should be internationally.
The same could be said of the Hamilton Golf and Country Club in Ancaster, Ont., which held the Open for the first time in years back in 2003 and had PGA Tour players complimenting it after their first experience.
Having spent many years at Ancaster – first as a caddie, then coming back to work in food and beverage and as an assistant manager in the 1980s – there are a lot of similarities, although there’s a different feel on the golf course.
I think there are a few more undulations here in terms of the greens, but Ancaster offers some great challenges and shot values. Particularly, it’s a second shot golf course, which I believe we are, as well.
I don’t believe we need a lot of length. I don’t think players on the PGA Tour think that length is the only way of challenging them, or we’d all be building golf courses of 8,000 yards or more if that was the case.
We’re going to play this course at about 7,100 yards and par 70. Our biggest defence is going to be the greens. We’re going to be raising the rough to PGA Tour standards and we’ve narrowed it in some areas, but generally speaking, the defence of this golf course is going to be its greens and they are tricky.
It seems that the players have really enjoyed these old classics with the tree-lined fairways the past few years. They offer variety and they’ve really got to look at what the next shot is – it challenges them that way.
One thing that hasn’t been factored in is, if the wind comes up, this is a very different golf course.
As it was with Ancaster, I think the players are going to be very pleasantly surprised and I don’t think that you’re going to see too many really low scores, maybe the odd one from somebody on a roll, but putting four low rounds together is going to be a real challenge for those guys.