Shaughnessy makes sense

IAN HUTCHINSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:51 AM ET

It made sense that Vancouver's Shaughnessy Golf and Country was named the site of the 2011 RBC Canadian Open last week.

By the time the Open hits the west coast in 2011, it will be five consecutive years in which the Open has been played in Ontario, not a good political situation for the Royal Canadian Golf Association.

In this little corner of the golfing world, it was predicted on Dec. 1 that the Open would return in 2011 to Shaughnessy, which in 2005 was the last venue at which the Open was played outside of Ontario.

Sticking with that original prediction, count on the 2012 Open being played in Quebec. The RCGA would like it to be at a new course in Terrebonne near Montreal, but completion of that site has stalled several times, so if it doesn't look like that will be ready, the 2012 date will go to Royal Montreal followed the next year by the Hamilton Golf and Country Club.

After that, it's anybody's guess, but RCGA executive director Scott Simmons says he's working on a draft that will take future Open sites right up to 2016, which seems somewhat ambitious considering his previous plan was to name all venues up to 2014 by the end of last year and that hasn't happened yet.

Both the RCGA and RBC are putting on a brave face about the Open's tough date right behind the British Open on the PGA Tour schedule, but if somehow a change in dates could happen, it would be grand for the tournament's sake if it could happen before 2011.

Shaughnessy is a fine golf course and many tour players commended it the last time the Open was played there, but the additional time it takes to fly from Britain to the west coast will make it even tougher to lure marquee players to Vancouver. That's a challenge the organizers didn't have in 2005 when the tournament was in September.

According to tournament director Bill Paul, a charter plane will fly players to Canada as soon as the British Open ends and new flight paths over the top of the world will make the trip out west shorter.

To their credit, the RCGA and RBC have chosen not to whine about the Open's tough position on the tour schedule and figure the installment of the Mike Weir Charity Classic to tournament week, RBC's new relationship with rising star Anthony Kim and other factors should help with the field.

There are other challenges at Shaughnessy.

While corporate sales were good in 2005, according to Paul, ticket sales and walk-up were disappointing and there were issues with moving people into and around the course.

Paul says having the 2005 experience under their belts is an advantage this time around and those concerns will be addressed.

According to the RCGA, Shaughnessy is one of just a handful of venues that can host the Open, a point that it has a hard time selling to those who believe the national championship should be played in all regions of the country with consistent intervals separating when the Open is played at each course.

It will never happen that way, according to Simmons, who says the decision on where to hold the Open goes beyond just the golf course and includes such factors as population base, international airports, accommodations and infrastructure issues such as parking and accessibility for fans.

Add in the fact that the RCGA cannot dictate to a golf course when the Open will be played.

That's up to the members and management who don't always want their facilities disrupted, so the consistent rotation of the Open to all parts of the country that many people crave is wishful thinking.

As it stands now, the Open won't be played outside of British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec.


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