F-words being used in Canada
Instead, the Open goes on this week at Glen Abbey and the issue of those brutal dates right behind the British Open has been done to death, even though nothing will change immediately.
Thats not to say the RCGA and RBC are accepting status quo for a tournament that just last year had no title sponsor and apparently no future. How times have changed.
RBC has the resources and clout to get the PGA TOUR to at least listen to complaints about those disastrous dates and that, in itself, is a step forward. Dont count on the Open falling around Canada Day, but at least more separation from a major is possible.
For now, the focus is on what can be done immediately to draw more players and fans to the Open and, ultimately, elevate its status before the TOUR rethinks its schedule down the road.
The hospitality shown to players and their families is being elevated in order to get a better field and fans havent been forgotten either. Tournament organizers now grasp the concept that professional sports are as much about entertainment as they are about competition.
This year, the Open will feature evening concerts by Blue Rodeo, 54-40 and Tom Cochrane behind the third green, a plan that surely would have been nixed by the RCGA in the past and will seem strange, assuming it continues, on the stately grounds of St. Georges in two years.
Such tactics are not exclusive to Canada. Justin Timberlake has his name on the Las Vegas TOUR stop, which is mired in the Fall Series. The four-time Grammy winner will play in a pro-am and headline a concert during the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
Theres also the party of all golf parties that takes place in Arizona in early February each year.
The FBR Open has carved its own special niche with boisterous crowds and special features such as the Birds Nest, an off-site festival with bands and bars that welcomes revelers when the last putt drops each day at TPC Scottsdale. Take it from someone whos been there, golf fans should experience it.
The RCGA seems to be backing off any comparison to the FBR Open. That could be because it wants to cook up its own unique Canadian flavor, or because the Phoenix-area event is sometimes over the top.
However, there is no denying the success of the FBR Open, which has set unofficial tour records for attendance and raised millions for charities through the Thunderbirds, the local group that organizes the tournament. Its at least a good blueprint to follow in Canada.
I have fun. Some people think the (FBR Open) is too loud, its too big, but at the same time, boy does it draw the crowds and that was something I did mention to the RCGA, said Ames, who has been a regular at the FBR Open over the years. I think we need to go in that direction.
Leggatt, the winner of the 2002 Touchstone Energy Tucson Open and now playing on the Nationwide Tour, agrees. I think they promote it as the greatest party on grass. Thats what they do. Its the place to go. Its the place to be seen, said Leggatt, who received an exemption into the Canadian Open.
(The FBR Open) is about bringing in as many people as they can, raising as much money as they can for charity because people come through the gates and they drink and they eat and have a great time, he added. I think thats an avenue they should explore for this event.
Both Leggatt and Ames agree that the RCGA should look at another aspect of the FBR Open, where the par-3 16th hole is known as the rowdiest in golf. Fans will sing a players college fight song as he approaches the tee, cheer him heartily if he hits the green, but boo him loudly if he misses.
There are a lot of people there and theyre right on top of you. Once you have done it a couple of times and you come to expect whats about to happen, youre used to it. There are players who dont like it, but for the most part, a good percentage of players think its good fun, said Leggatt.
Both Leggatt and Ames are in agreement that Canadas version of the 16th could come at a par three at the end of the Abbeys valley holes. I think 15 would be a perfect opportunity to just surround that entire hole with grandstands and try to mimic that whole thing, said Leggatt.
It may not be an original idea, but just the fact that players and organizers are using F-words -- as in fun, fans and FBR Open -- is a refreshing sign as the Canadian Open enters a future it didnt seem to have a year ago.
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Editor's Note: Ian Hutchinson is golf columnist for the Toronto Sun. He is also a frequent contributor to Golf Scene and Golf Canada Magazine, the official magazine of the Royal Canadian Golf Association.
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