Canadian Open returns to Glen Abbey as questions swirl about every of their futures

OAKVILLE, Ont. — It’s a kind of golf tales that will or might not be true. It was 1955, and Arnold Palmer was making an attempt to make it as knowledgeable golfer. It was not going nicely. Because the story goes, Palmer and his spouse, Winnie, had been at Weston Golf Membership, in Toronto, for the Canadian Open. He informed his spouse that if he didn’t make a good pay cheque that week, he was going to surrender golf and get an actual job.

Palmer received the event, his first as knowledgeable. He went on to a golf profession of some be aware.

That the Canadian Open birthed the King is only one of many elements of its lore. Based in 1904, the third-oldest nationwide championship in golf, the event has produced winners reminiscent of Sam Snead, Byron Nelson and Walter Hagen. Nick Worth, Greg Norman, Curtis Unusual and Vijay Singh have received it. One of many best pictures of Tiger Woods’ profession got here out of a bunker in entrance of the pond on the 18th gap right here at Glen Abbey.

Now styled the RBC Canadian Open, will probably be performed for the 108th time this week and for the 29th time on the Abbey, west of Toronto.

However its dwelling for a lot past that’s unsure. The RBC Canadian Open is on the nexus of forces which might be reshaping the golf world. Glen Abbey, its most frequent dwelling, has been slated for redevelopment right into a residential group. Its proprietor, ClubLink, introduced in 2015 that it needed to show the power, which was the primary course designed by Jack Nicklaus and was opened because the everlasting dwelling of the Open in 1977, into an actual property play, however the course of, which has been resisted by native politicians, is a good distance from over.

In the meantime, the PGA Tour is anticipated to seriously change its schedule within the close to future, which once more raises questions in regards to the Canadian Open’s less-than-ideal date. Coming because it does instantly following the Open Championship, the event is once more lacking many huge names. Solely 5 of the highest 40 on the earth golf rankings are scheduled to play in Canada this week, though world No. 1 Dustin Johnson is amongst them.

Dustin Johnson traces up a putt on the British Open on July 23. Gregory Shamus / Getty Photographs

And so, it’s unclear the place the RBC Canadian Open will probably be performed sooner or later, and unclear when will probably be performed.

However for Golf Canada, the game’s governing physique on this nation, which means that is additionally one thing of a chance.

“We all know that there’s all of the stuff occurring exterior, but it surely doesn’t cease the momentum of what we’re making an attempt to do inside,” says Brent McLaughlin, Golf Canada’s managing director {of professional} championships.

The obvious of these exterior forces is the possession of Glen Abbey, which Golf Canada offered to ClubLink in 1998 for a reported $40 million. The corporate, which owns a number of dozen programs and in addition has an actual property arm, has filed preliminary plans that decision for 3,000 houses on the 230-acre website: houses that might doubtless every be within the million-dollar vary.

Though it may take years earlier than the Abbey course is bulldozed — Oakville is conducting research to evaluate the deliberate redevelopment and there have been arguments for a cultural heritage safety — Golf Canada is conscious of the necessity to take into account alternate websites for its males’s nationwide championship, which it had achieved lately anyway. The event has been performed at six totally different programs up to now 20 years, together with Royal Montreal, Shaughnessey close to Vancouver, Hamilton Golf Membership and St. George’s in Toronto.

However the Canadian Open’s wandering interval resulted in 2013, when it returned to Glen Abbey. This 12 months marks the fourth time in 5 years it has been performed in Oakville, and it’s anticipated to return for a minimum of subsequent 12 months.

On this July 24, 2016 file picture, Canada’s Jared du Toit tees off on the Canadian Open at Glen Abbey in Oakville, Ont. Vaughn Ridley / Getty Photographs

Coming again to the Abbey allowed Golf Canada, McLaughlin says, to make use of the “momentum” of repeated visits to assist appeal to company sponsors and enhance ticket gross sales. Being within the nation’s largest market doesn’t harm, both. However although ClubLink introduced plans to shutter the Abbey at the same time as Golf Canada was getting used to internet hosting the event there once more, McLaughlin says there has lengthy been an eye fixed on maybe discovering one other dwelling.

“Glen Abbey has been an unbelievable venue for us, however the event continues to alter,” he says. A PGA Tour occasion of in the present day is a far greater endeavor than these of the late 1970s, when Nicklaus created his spectator-friendly design.

“We’ve form of run out of house, to be trustworthy,” McLaughlin says. “You nearly should custom-build a golf course or discover a property that has one other 150-200 acres exterior of the particular golf course simply to have (event) infrastructure. As we glance to the longer term, any venue we’re going to have goes to have that.”

The answer could possibly be to construct a brand new course, probably as a part of some form of municipal sports activities complicated, that might be a everlasting dwelling for the Canadian Open, or a minimum of a semi-permanent one. However pulling that off received’t be simple, not with out the assist of rich companions, particularly when the marketplace for high-end golf programs has slowed to a crawl.

As for when the event will probably be performed, a lot of that’s out of Golf Canada’s arms.

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan has stated he want to see the tour’s schedule compressed, with the FedEx Cup playoffs moved to August from September to maintain it from conflicting with the beginning of the NFL season. In that state of affairs, the PGA Championship would transfer to Might, which suggests the Canadian Open would instantly comply with the season’s remaining main and precede the FedEx Cup tournaments — an much more unfriendly spot, by way of attracting prime gamers, than it at present holds.

McLaughlin permits {that a} schedule shuffle is a robust chance, however he additionally notes that there’s “no excellent date” for the event. If it moved into June, it may battle with the U.S. Open, and there can be an elevated probability of climate issues in early summer time in Canada. If it moved again to the autumn, the place it used to reside on the tour calendar, it could threat turning into a part of the useless zone of tournaments that come after the FedEx Cup is accomplished.

However McLaughlin says the Canadian Open has spent an excessive amount of time questioning about its date. “We are able to’t give attention to that any extra,” he says. “We are able to’t fear in regards to the date — we’ve received an incredible product.”

That product begins in earnest on Thursday. And if a Canadian ought to win, for the primary time since 1954? “I feel the get together, the celebration that might happen, can be one thing,” McLaughlin says.

And if nothing else, it could push apart the questions in regards to the event’s future plans, a minimum of for a short while.

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