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.
There’s a lot of excitement around the St. George’s Golf and Country Club right now. The buzz is pretty strong as the stands go up and the infrastructure is put in place.
The demand for tee times is strong, as is the demand for guest play and we’ve put in some programs to make it an enjoyable experience for members and guests with the rough up to about four inches now.
What we’ve done is make forecaddies per guest group mandatory between the hours of 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. and it’s been so well-received that the members bringing guests want it.
It’s not an imposition at all because it takes the pressure off them a little bit in terms of moving their guests along. The forecaddies carry little irrigation flags and run out ahead of the group and place flags down by the ball so it saves at least a few minutes per hole.
If you add that all of that up, you’re over half an hour faster per round, so the pace of play has been very good this year considering that the rough is long and gnarly and that there’s been a lot of guest play.
It isn’t official yet, but we may keep the forecaddie program. Those types of programs have to be approved, but I’d like to see it continue indefinitely and I think our members would love to see it.
The members have come to the plate in several ways for the Open, which isn’t a surprise since there was initially a 90 per cent approval when we first voted on it in June of 2008, so the first thing is that they’ve allowed it to happen.
As Scott Simmons, executive director of Golf Canada, has said, he’s most appreciative not just because of the club, the board of directors and management, but also the members.
In our particular case, our range closed over a week ago and it will stay closed until about August 1, so that’s about seven weeks.
Secondly, there have been a number of members who have purchased corporate boxes and skyboxes themselves and for their corporate hospitality. If they haven’t personally done that, they’ve recommended or given us leads and referrals to go after other contacts.
Lastly, there are between 250 and 300 members who have stepped up to volunteer at the tournament. I think that’s remarkable considering that represents about 40 per cent of our golf membership.
In more ways than one, the members of St. George’s are stepping up to support the Open.