One-on-one with Lindsey Elwood

JOHN HERBERT -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 11:00 AM ET

Q The fact the London Hunt and Country Club is private makes playing host to a high-profile event such as the Canadian Women's Open all the more interesting. What do the members think about bringing what some might consider unnecessary attention to the club?

A Actually, I don't think that was ever a matter of concern for our membership. When approached by the RCGA to host the event, the members voted overwhelmingly in support and have been enthusiastic ever since.

Q Does it bother members to lose their course for a week to 10 days?

A I would expect it might bother some, however, to be honest with you, I have not heard one complaint about giving up the course. In fact, my sense is the membership is enthusiastically embracing the opportunity to watch some really great golf that week. For those members who don't want to watch, a number of area golf courses have generously made their courses available for our membership.

Q Does success for the club mean the Canadian Women's Open must be profitable? If not, what defines success? The du Maurier in 1993 raised $400,000 for the club. What is the financial goal?

A I think the question of profitability is really one for the RCGA and how they define a successful tournament. For our part, I think success for the club would be that we have provided a great test for the best women golfers in the world and an enjoyable venue for the spectators. When the board of directors considered the RCGA's request to host this year's tournament, our over-riding concern was to assist the RCGA and the Women's Canadian Open and our decision was not predicated on achieving some financial goal.

Q How big an impact will the absence of LPGA stars Michelle Wie, Paula Creamer and Annika Sorenstam have on attendance?

A Obviously, we would have loved to have those players competing in the event. However, the indications to date are that we're going to have an extremely strong field and judging by ticket sales, there appears to be very little impact on attendance.

Q Don McDougall made an unsuccessful attempt to bring the men's Canadian Open to the Hunt club a few years ago when the tournament status at Glen Abbey was in limbo. With the RCGA committed to moving the men's tournament around Canada, will the club again go after the Canadian Open?

A I think the club would be receptive to hosting a Canadian Open at some point in the future, (but) that's really a decision for the RCGA and the event sponsor. We have committed to host the 2010 men's Canadian Amateur and are looking forward to that event. We believe that since the original Robert Trent Jones layout was updated by his son Rees Jones in 2000, the course at 7,250 yards would provide a championship layout if we were approached by the RCGA to hold the Canadian Open and would provide a great test.

Q Will national/international media coverage help the city of London? And how much?

A I think the city of London benefited greatly from national media coverage of the Memorial Cup and Scott Tournament of Hearts and I think there will be a significant positive impact for the city by hosting the CN Canadian Women's Open. Events such as these demonstrate London is capable of successfully staging world-class events which in turn will attract other similar events to the city. I certainly think there will be a positive economic impact on the city from such events.

Q Are you disappointed the tournament won't be on U.S. television?

A I'm not overly concerned that the tournament is not covered by U.S. television inasmuch as Sportsnet will be covering the tournament three hours per day and it will be covered by the Golf Channel.

Q Where will the players stay -- Private homes? Downtown hotels?

A A number of members have made their homes available, however most of the players will be staying at downtown hotels for the week. I expect this will result in increased business for downtown hotels, restaurants and stores.

Q I see there's a Canadian beer garden. How many beers, hot dogs, cold drinks, shirts, hats will be sold during the week?

A If I had the answer to that, I think I would probably buy a lottery ticket.

Q The public pays to enter but how many complimentary passes will be issued?

A I'm not aware there are any complimentary passes.

Q How many Port-A-Pottys will be on site?

A I've been advised by the RCGA there will be plenty of facilities available.

Q What's the emergency plan if there's a major storm and 5,000 to 10,000 people are trapped on the golf course?

A I'm advised by the RCGA they have an emergency operations plan in place, as they do at all major tournaments to ensure in an emergency spectators will not be left trapped on the golf course.

Q How much damage does the course suffer? Can you put a dollar value on that?

A For the most part, there should be very little damage to the course. Most, if any, will be to areas of rough and crossover paths that should not affect the playability of the course when it re-opens. For the most part, the bleachers and skyboxes as well as hospitality tents will be in non-playing areas and I'd expect the course will recover quickly.

Q Who are some of the celebrities in the Wednesday pro-am?

A I understand Jennifer Jones will be one of the celebrities participating, but the reality is all of the women golf professionals are celebrities and whether or not you're participating in the pro-am or are a spectator, we really come out to see how well these professionals play.

Q What role does the president of the club play organizing the tournament and then during tournament week?

A The president and board of directors obviously played a role in securing the membership's approval to host the tournament, and thereafter I've been involved as a member of the joint tournament committee along with Doug Alexander and Susan Holliday, the tournament co-chairs, and members of the RCGA. The committee meets on a frequent basis to deal with any issues that may require immediate attention. As for tournament week, I'm scheduled to meet with representatives of the Mayfair Country Club, the host of next year's tournament in Edmonton, Alta. I expect there may be other functions I'll be attending but for the most part I expect and intend to spend as much time as possible watching the golf.

Q Why did the Hunt club want this tournament?

A I don't think it's as much a question of whether the Hunt club wanted the tournament as much as we were approached by the RCGA, who were in a bit of a bind with respect to both a sponsor and a tournament site. As one of the original founders of the RCGA, we felt an obligation to assist the RCGA and we wanted to support the Canadian Women's Open.

Q Will staging this tournament and showing off this course, help improve the club's rating in national magazine polls?

A The club has never made an effort to attract rating groups nor have we been overly concerned about the club's ratings. Having said that, the members know we have a championship golf course for which we are justifiably proud and I think we welcome the opportunity to showcase it and the rest of our facilities which, in turn, should have an impact in the national magazine polls.

Q Who do you think will win the tournament?

A That's probably the hardest question and I suppose I'm always going to root for one of the Canadian girls. I was fortunate enough to play a practice round with Morgan Pressel about a month ago and I suppose if one of the Canadian girls can't win, I would be cheering for her.


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