Canadians coming up in PGA

IAN HUTCHINSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:19 AM ET

One of the arguments I’ve heard in a proposal to allow stores to open on holidays in Toronto is that the city is world-class and should be open for business 24-7, which suggests that anyone who wants time with the family belongs in some backwater burgh, which doesn’t sound bad these days.

I’ve always wondered about terms such as “world-class” or “major league.”

They seem like a cry for attention because, if you are what you say you are, there’s an air of confidence that doesn’t require self-proclaimed adjectives.

If you’re major league, you attend athletic events for fun, not because they charge $10 for a beer and $7 for a hot dog and keep introducing retro jerseys to scoop the money you earned while working a stat holiday.

Major-league fans are so aware of their favourite games that they see the next great player coming, but in golf, and this applies to multitudes across the country, fans are content to wait until that next Canadian appears out of nowhere. Even then, they don’t say much until the winning begins.

All the while, they wonder why Canada has so few players on the PGA or LPGA Tours when it has the highest per capita participation rate in the world.

Canadians want elite golfers handed to them on a platter without worrying about development.

CTV’s Rod Black, who will emcee Mike Weir’s induction into the Ontario Golf Hall of Fame on Wednesday, tells a story that would be funny if it wasn’t indicative of the Canadian attitude.

Black was at a Canadian Tour pro-am years ago when one of the tour players was holding a clinic at the range, which few attended.

That player was Weir and, as Black quips, probably everybody on hand that day now brags that they took a tip from the 2003 Masters champ.

Lately, I’ve been fielding more and more questions from golfers I know about this Graham DeLaet guy who finished third at the Shell Houston Open.

All DeLaet did was win twice on the Canadian Tour, where he finished on top of the money list, once in South Africa and represented Canada in the World Cup.

The development stages of a young pro’s career was dealt with recently by a Canadian Tour discussion paper called Bridging the Gap, which deals with helping developing pros through their formative years, so they can reach the top levels of the game.

The tour, along with Golf Canada (nee the Royal Canadian Golf Association) and the Canadian PGA, are forming a task force to see how these players can be helped out with the 2016 Olympics on the horizon.

What comes out of it could be something similar to Own the Podium, which led to the bountiful medal haul by Canadian athletes at the Vancouver Olympics, but that would need solid corporate sponsorship.

The other alternative is to keep things as they are and let these young professionals fend for themselves. Even with that, they need corporate sponsorship through endorsements, etc.

Either way, the corporate sponsors are going to understandably want a return on their investments and the eye of the public is a critical component to that objective.

It’s prime time to start checking out developing Canadians whether it be DeLaet on the PGA Tour, Sam Richdale and Lisa Meldrum on the LPGA Tour, Matt Hill and Nick Taylor who are about to turn pro or Jennifer Kirby in her freshman year in U.S. college golf.

Your own personal scouting report now means it won’t be a surprise if and when they do something down the road on the major tours or in the Olympics.

The minor leagues are a prerequisite for players and fans with major-league aspirations.


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