Canadian Open regular rotation won't happen

IAN HUTCHINSON -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:47 AM ET

'Tis the season to create a wish list.

Topping the Royal Canadian Golf Association's list is a new title sponsor for the Canadian Open and a different date than the one handed to it by the PGA Tour, one that surely will earn commissioner Tim Finchem a lump of coal this year.

While we're on the topic of wishful thinking for the Canadian Open, a rotation of familiar host sites is a common desire among native sons, especially if the past two courses to host the Open top the list.

The grand parkland layout of the Hamilton Golf and Country Club has a golden reputation after hosting two of the past four Opens, while a similar design in Vancouver -- the Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club, the host site in 2005 -- has also earned its spot on the hit parade.

"(Hamilton) and Shaughnessy are very, very much alike," said Victoria's Jim Rutledge, who will be a 47-year-old tour rookie next year. "Shaughnessy is a good, old golf course like (Hamilton) and everything is front of you. It's just good golf. Everybody says the same."

The idea of a regular rotation is a sweet one, albeit naive. It's based on a good for the game theory because there is a belief that prime courses mean bigger names attending. Still, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and David Toms were absent in Hamilton. So, how big a factor is a host site in a player's decision?

"I can only speak for myself," Mike Weir said. "You look at how many tournaments you played in a row, the golf courses you like, the cities you like and how it all kind of plays out -- whether you want to take time off --and there are a lot of factors.

"If there's a golf course you don't like, that's going to be a big factor and if it's a course you like, no matter what the purse is, you'll probably go play. If you like the course, you're probably going to do well."

So, the host site can be as much of a negative as it is a positive, which is no surprise.

As Weir pointed out, there are other factors that go into making a decision on whether or not to play a particular tournament and a huge one beginning next year is that awkward date right after the British Open.

There are various reasons that a regular rotation will never happen. For one thing, the new title sponsor, assuming there will be one, plays a huge role in the decision on where the Open will be played based on its own corporate needs and markets it wants to penetrate.

Secondly, private clubs such as Hamilton and Shaughnessy have members and boards of directors to deal with and chances are good that they won't want to give up their respective golf courses on a regular basis.

Also, there are very few courses in this country that can host an Open and that doesn't mean there aren't great golf courses in Canada. Most don't have the infrastructure (parking, etc.) to pull it off.

There still are plenty of ideas about which courses would fit nicely into a regular rotation. Weir adds Royal Montreal to the list and would also like to see an Open played in Alberta. Rutledge looks to Woodbridge. "Probably, The National Golf Club would be at the top of my list in Canada," he said.

Brantford's David Hearn agrees, adding that the site of this year's CN Canadian Women's Open would be another fine choice. "The National would be a difficult Canadian Open course and I think London Hunt would be good. It's a great property start to finish," Hearn said.


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