RCGA Charting Its Future
If there was any back-patting that went on behind the scenes, it is both understandable and appropriate, but the RCGA cannot afford to spend too much time congratulating itself.
Months ago, when the RCGA was looking to replace Stephen Ross, it was pointed out in this space that landing a title sponsor for the Open was just the beginning of a job well done by the new executive director. That person turned out to be Scott Simmons, who is in complete agreement.
When I took over, there were two key mandates on my plate ' solve the sponsorship issue with the Canadian Open and write a strategic plan that will get us back on track, said Simmons. First one done. Second one, great progress, about halfway there.
The strategic plan may eventually make the Canadian Open sponsorship seem like a picnic despite the dark clouds that hung over the future of the national championship in the past year or so. While the Canadian Open is the glittery part of the RCGA, Simmons admits that strategic planning is boring to most golfers.
However, the document now being worked on will chart the short-term future of the RCGA, which has been criticized for being irrelevant to most Canadian golfers and for trespassing on other associations territories in trying to make things happen for those very same golfers.
When youre slammed for doing too much and doing too little, it becomes clear that its difficult to keep everybody happy, but the RCGA has sought input from various sectors of the golf industry including pros, owners, the Canadian Tour, media, provincial associations and Canadian Golf Hall of Fame members.
It has been working with Managerial Design, an Oakville-based company, and will present a three-year plan at the RCGAs annual general meeting in mid-January.
One of the topics that will be dealt with in the plan is how to deal with funding the RCGAs various programs. Proceeds from the Canadian Open have traditionally gone to supporting those programs, but will now be reinvested back into the tournament. The same goes for the CN Canadian Womens Open.
That means the RCGA will have to use income from membership dues, investment income from the sale of Glen Abbey and other existing potential fund raisers, as well as find other new revenue streams for its programs.
Thats just one aspect of what amounts to a redefinition of the RCGA, which Simmons says has stuck to its original mandate and bylaws over the years. He now says that both he and the board of governors are open to change through a document that will also take a long, hard look at the RCGA internally.
In simple terms, my personal view is that, since 1895, the RCGAs been accountable to its members. I truly believe, philosophically, that we need to be accountable to the game as well, which means all golfers, growing the game, said Simmons.
Now that weve been designated the national sport organization (for golf) by the federal government, were no different than Hockey Canada if you want to use that analogy.
Its our job to grow the game, which means that, while we still need to service the needs of our members, we need to service the needs of the game.
Thats going to be, I think, a core component of our strategic plan, said Simmons, adding that the plan is just the first step.
Ive been trying to manage expectations because once the plan is completed, thats all it is is a plan, he said. Thats when the work starts.
Its not as if this plans going to come out and solve all the worlds problems. The simple way I describe it is the plan will tell us what were doing that we should keep doing, what were doing that we should stop doing and what were not doing that we should start doing.
Managing expectations may be the toughest challenge for Simmons because, unlike the Canadian Open sponsorship, there is no definitive conclusion on the horizon that will determine success or failure.
Simmons was in North Carolina on the weekend to speak at an International Association of Golf Administrators conference and one of his duties there was to present the RCGAs Jim Fraser with a distinguish service award from the organization.
Fraser is a former governor and a well-respected rules official who played key roles in the RCGAs slope system and developing the Future Links junior program.
Email your thoughts to Ian Hutchinson
Editor's Note: Ian Hutchinson is golf columnist for the Toronto Sun and senior writer for Pro Shop Magazine, a Canadian golf trade publication, and Canadian Golfer Magazine. He is also a frequent contributor to Golf Scene and Golf Canada Magazine, the official magazine of the Royal Canadian Golf Association.
What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm
Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:
Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff
Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.
While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.
Watching Andrew Landry and Jon Rahm in playoff. Walking off tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me ? Talking at all. ?— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.
0 words— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The issue is I don’t want to make you a bit relaxed or comfortable. High pressure, good.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you watch the end of the NFL games yesterday ? Enough said.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
I didn’t say you couldn’t be friends and competitive. But in a playoff, 1 tiny mistake and you lose, and that devastated me. Friends before and after, competitors during play.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you win ? It’s all about surviving the competition to test yourself.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.
Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over
The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.
As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.
Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.
And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.
And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.
McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.
The Ryder Cup topped his list.
Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.
When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.
“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”
McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.
Or similar assertions from TV analysts.
“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”
European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.
And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.
The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.
Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.
And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.
Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.
The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.
The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.
More bulletin board material, too.
Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.
Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions
Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.
The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.
It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.
The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.
“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”
Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.