Ottawa Golfers & Their RBC Canadian Open Moment

Four Ottawa golfers recently had their RBC Canadian Open moment thanks to WestJet (Photo - Scott MacLeod)
Four Ottawa golfers recently had their RBC Canadian Open moment thanks to WestJet (Photo - Scott MacLeod)
Four Ottawa golfers recently had their RBC Canadian Open moment thanks to WestJet (Photo – Scott MacLeod)

Golf means a lot of different things to different people. It’s a place to compete, it’s a place to relax, and often it’s place to share time with family. Just as frequently it is a place for camaraderie among friends.

That’s the case for four members of the Greyhawk golf club in Ottawa who have accompanied each other for many a round, resulting in a lot of laughs, a lot of ribbing, and plenty of cherished memories.

None, though, will be bigger than the day they had on June 11th when their plans for a regular game were turned upside down – in the biggest way possible.

That morning the foursome, David Pratt, Raymond Guy, Wayne Harper, and Donald Verge, were expecting to play an early morning game at their ClubLink owned club in the east end of Ottawa.  They had been offered an early time by Director of Golf Dany Lacombe under the guise that the pro wanted them to meet with visiting ClubLink executives for feedback as long-time members of the club.

It seemed fairly benign, in fact Pratt, the only one of the group still among the working set, still had plans to meet with a customer later in the day. In due course, that meeting would be postponed.

After a quick check in at the pro shop and arrival at the starter box by the 1st tee of the Predator course, the day went a little sideways.

All set for their game the group was informed that they must be mistaken as their names were not on the starter sheet for the day.  Their dismay gave way to confusion when the starter informed them that, yes, indeed she found they did have a tee time, but at another ClubLink property, the home of the 2015 RBC Canadian Open – Glen Abbey Golf Club.

With the reveal of a stretch limousine and a greeting by staff from Calgary-based airline, WestJet, they learned that they would be taking the tee, not feet from where they stood but 483 kilometres away as part of a promotion to introduce the airline as a partner with Golf Canada.

“It was unbelievable; what a surprise,” Raymond Guy, said later in the day.

As overwhelming as the shock initially was, the group were hardly aware just how elaborate of an adventure they were about to embark on, one that involved dozens of staff from WestJet, ClubLink, Golf Canada, TaylorMade-Adidas Golf Canada, an entire production studio, and months of planning.

They were caught up in an experiential marketing campaign and a resulting video, one that went live on YouTube on July 6th. It followed in the footsteps of major WestJet promotional videos with a “giving” component, including the WestJet Christmas Miracle which, to date, has been viewed more than 41 million times.  Better yet, they were the stars.

Of course, in the vein of past WestJet videos, a simple ride to the airport, a flight, and a tee time at Glen Abbey was not enough to complete the day.  This was #YourOpenMoment where the group would feel like tour pros for a day, with touches they would never have imagined every experiencing in their lives.

How impactful was it on the group?  By the end of the day Donald Verge could hardly hold back the tears.  The ClubLink member had never taken advantage of his membership that would allow him to access the golf course that will host the RBC Canadian Open for a record 27th time this year.

After being greeted at the Ottawa airport by WestJet staff the contingent paraded through the terminal with their own standard bearer.  Many a curious eye was upon them.

After landing in Toronto another limousine whisked them off to Glen Abbey in Oakville, Ontario where they visited the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame, and were given their own lockers stuffed full of adidas clothing, shoes and accessories for the day.  As would be the theme for the entire trip a film crew followed them for every step as did three members of the media embedded to watch it all play out.

Next up was a fitting for golf clubs from TaylorMade-adidas staff, with a twist.  After lunch the gang was shuffled to the range for warm up for their round. They were greeted by four caddies standing by a staff bag customized for each of them and full of all the equipment they had been fitted for just an hour before.

It was then on to the first tee where a starter, their own course marshals, “spectators” (actually WestJet staff) and even the RBC Canadian Open trophy helped them get their day underway, just like the PGA TOUR pros will in a late July.

Even when they thought their dream round was over there was one more surprise for the group when WestJest presented them each with a round trip ticket anywhere WestJet flies as the crowd cheered on at the 18th green.

On their trip back to Ottawa to complete the  whirlwind day, the lucky gentleman were still in disbelief.

Ray Guy stated what all of them were thinking – “We’re going to wake up tomorrow and wonder, did that really happen?”

“They are great guys; they really deserved it,” said GreyHawk’s Dany Lacombe.  “They were so excited when they came back to the club.  Donald Verge was still crying when he talked about it.  I think it meant a lot to them all.”

That was verified by Verge himself.  “It’s going to be something to stay with us for the rest of our lives, for sure.”

WestJet unveiled the campaign with this video below:

To see some images behind the scenes from Flagstick also check out our video: