Canadian Open 2006 – And beyond…

A Tale of Two Tournies

-Taking a Deeper Look at The Canadian Open-

Ancaster, Ontario, September 10th, 2006 – Really, it is all how you spin it but can Canadian golf fans really be convinced? Come 2007, with the Canadian Open on the move to a late July date – one squeezed between the British Open, a World Golf Championship and the PGA Championship, things look bleak for this institution. But are they really?

The perception is that the 2007 Open, to be played at Angus Glen Golf Club in Markham, Ontario, will be a second rate event with little to draw people to attend it. But is that really the case? Sure, all the top players in the world may not be there but rarely are they ever for a non-major or non-World Championship series event. 2006 Champion Jim Furyk has already said he will show up to defend and you can always depend on Mike Weir to lead the homegrown contingent. That should be enough to convince a couple people to pick up a ducat or two. Of course there will need to be more than that to make the event a success – primarily people will have to open their eyes to what the Canadian Open REALLY offers for golfers – something many media members need to do as well.

Nothing symbolizes it better than the cool morning walk Flagstick Publisher Jeff Bauder and I took here today at the Hamilton Golf & Country Club. You see, as much focus as people put on the leaders at a golf tournament – most of them forget that golf is a fleeting game. It takes very little for even the best players to end up trailing the pack during a PGA Tour event – or even missing the cut. But the joy of watching professional golf is that there are normally 144-156 players in the field at every event and for the price of a ticket you can watch any of them, all day long. When was the last time you got to pay $65 to watch NHL hockey for a 12 hour, continuous stretch?

Arriving at this venerable old layout early today, the thought was on our minds to follow many of the players who would eventually be duelling for the championship trophy – but then a quick glance at the pairing sheet changed all that. Remember, whether on the bottom or the top – these guys are good. In fact, there is so much to admire in the games of even the lonely players who must set out in the near dawn of the final day that in itself, it justifies the few quid you have paid for entry.

Yes, you may not be enamoured by the early rise necessary to see pro golfers tip it up in frigid morning air, but the opportunity is included in the cost of your ticket so why not?

So we set out to follow a pair of golfers that were some 12 shots back of the leaders. Their smooth swings and solid strikes of the golf ball were impressive. Despite being so far back of the lead they were only two over par for three rounds, scores even an elite amateur could only pine for. Within the first few holes they hit booming, well shaped drives, displayed skilful ability in hitting fairway bunker shots, and demonstrated deft touch around the greens. All the while they interacted with the crowd (a group that peaked at no more than 100 during all eighteen holes) and gave valuable golf lessons by their actions alone.

The opportunity to watch professionals like this at close range is what the Canadian Open and other live golf events are all about. It is the real gold you will find at the Canadian Open, what should be emphasized to all. Even if they are not currently the number 1 and 2 players in the world, I assure anyone that they would enjoy such a morning walk – a playing lesson if you will.

Sadly many people believe that if Tiger Woods is not at a golf tournament that there is nothing worth watching – how wrong they are. In fact, chances are that even if Tiger played every Canadian Open and you were there to watch live – you might not see much of his golf at all. It would likely be just too hard to get a line of sight to observe more than a shot or two.

So it is the depth of the field you need to think about. All these pros are good enough to have reached the top tour in the world. Any one of them will be sure to entertain, and probably show you how to play the game better.

Sure, getting swept up in the victory march is one thing but a golf tournament like the Canadian Open has more depth than that, no matter who is “missing” from the field.

As for us, we got an 18-hole golf clinic; up close and personal by a couple of those “players not currently on the top of the world rankings” that everyone is so worried will be the ones to fill out the Canadian Open field in 2007.

If people could just put that in perspective then they would realize there is no need to give up on the Canadian Open. There are reasons to watch for more than the contemporary top players.

By the way, the players we tagged along with for the morning – rumour has it they have already won 28 PGA Tour events including 3 majors and each says they plan to keep playing the Canadian Open as long as they can.

They were pretty good.

You may want to keep an eye out for them – called themselves David Frost and Nick Price.

I hope this golf thing works out for them.

Just having Tiger Woods and always the best golf course to play on does not guarantee the success of the Canadian Open.

Having fans and media with an open mind is more important. Don’t just pile on the criticism train, turning your nose up because of date, venue, or perceived “quality” of the field.

There are great things to be proud of and enjoy at every Canadian Open.

You just have to look with the right perspective.