Twenty-six times the National Open golf championship of Canada has been played at the Glen Abbey Golf Club. For years, in concert with each hosting duty you often hear the same things – that Glen Abbey is a terrible golf course not worthy of the assignment.
I must admit, I have been among the dissenters at times, but my reasons, although common, are different. One of the major reasons negativity has surrounded the Abbey has been for less about what is, and more about what it isn’t. The result has been a tainted picture of the course once owned by Golf Canada but now in the possession of ClubLink.
My biggest knock on having the Jack Nicklaus design host our Open was that, well, it was hosting the Open. We have great golf courses around our country and it was a shame not to see that celebrated by having a few of them showcased. That all changed a few years ago when a concerted effort was initiated to have a rotation of courses around the country have our greatest championship visit for a week.
While I fully support that continuing, where applicable and where it makes sense financially, it would be near impossible to have a Canadian Open rotation without the Oakville, Ontario layout.
Why you ask? Well, first off, a PGA Tour event is no small operation and the logistics of hosting have been tuned to a science at Glen Abbey. Volunteers, traffic, media, spectators – they have it all down pat in a way that makes it both convenient and profitable each and every time. In a time of fiscal responsibility that cannot be ignored.
Unfortunately, with the hopes of many to see the RBC Canadian Open move to other locales, the default position for many has been to slag Glen Abbey in the process when in fact there is really not much wrong with it.
When I first saw the golf course in 1987 it was just a decade old. Understandable it was an immature environment from an agronomy side of the things. Time has been kind to the course and as a result it has grown to become more palatable than what I once personally considered.
The feeling is similar for many PGA TOUR players. While they enjoy the visits to the old school layouts of Royal Montreal or Hamilton Golf & Country Club, they are not all that upset to visit Glen Abbey either. Player after player had compliments for Glen Abbey during this year’s Canadian Open – and that was in off the record conversations, not commentary just meant to appease the hosts or sponsors.
They like the green complexes (which have been thoughtfully altered through the years), enjoy the opportunities of the short par five holes, and the variations in the par fours where tree lines have filled in over the decades to better define the line of play. Add to that improved conditioning (this year was likely the best it has ever been) and you have some very happy pros.
Pundits may still whine and complain but they may have to open their eyes to the fact things have developed nicely at Glen Abbey. If the best players in the world are content with the place, then most critics are in a very weak position to cry the same very old, and tired, tune.
There are valid reasons for Glen Abbey to continue as an RBC Canadian Open host so don’t expect that to end anytime soon.