I had the pleasure of being present at the recent Golf Journalists Association of Canada Golf and Awards Day. The evenings most prominent award went to Ontario Golf Hall of Fame member and accomplished author/writer John Gordon, recipient of the Dick Grimm Award, provided annually by the GJAC. The award recognizes lifetime contributions to the game of golf and John is a most worthy recipient. In his acceptance speech, he shared a story which really resonated with me about the importance of Canada’s national open. John mentioned that the late Dick Grimm referred to the Canadian Open as the ‘golden goose’ because it provided so much for the game in Canada, ‘golden eggs’ if you will.
This gave me pause for reflection around the significance and true importance of our national championship. Let me fully disclose here, I have never attended an RBC Canadian Open but I feel I can appreciate how important it is for golf in this country. So much so that perhaps I need to give our Open more support. Understand, this is not to say I stand on a soap box and rail on this historic and prestigious event on the PGA Tour schedule; I don’t. If anything, I am guilty of being too quiet and almost dismissive of the event. My focus of my interests in the game are around public golf. But Glen Abbey, for example, is a publicly accessible venue. I have played it many, many years ago and practice there more often then maybe I should. It is also on my Bucket List of top public Canadian courses.
For Golf Canada, and numerous sponsors – like title sponsor, RBC – it is a platform to showcase the game of golf in Canada and all that is good about it. I am not going to say that golf shares a level of passion across this country like hockey, but for many of us the passion is similar. I read the regular criticisms about Glen Abbey – it renders scores too low, it’s too close to Toronto, and so on. And I also read people argue why the Canadian Open doesn’t rotate around more around the country. Fiscal reasons are a significant driver for this along with a less than ideal place on the PGA Tour schedule. These are items which merit constructive discussion and debate. But I for one will not let these detract from all that is good about our national championship. I will heed John’s lesson from Mr. Grimm and focus on the many positives of this event.
Seventeen Canadians are participating this year. This event showcases the strengths of Canadian golf, notably PGA Teaching Professional Bryn Parry and amateur golf champion and NHL referee Garrett Rank. The coming out party of then amateur and now professional Jarred Du Toit in 2016 is a success story which will be told for many years. Annual junior clinics around the tournament site give aspiring Adam Hadwin’s or Brooke Henderson’s access to PGA Tour professionals which can only add to the spark of their own growing interests in the game. I love junior golf and gravitate to great initiatives which help introduce and grow the game and the Canadian Open plays a significant role in supporting and enabling these (She Swings, She Scores; Fairways; Golf in Schools; Drive Chip and Putt; and so many more). Also, local charities benefit from the PGA Tour’s charitable arm and the economic boost from this event is significant. I am sure I could go on, the impact of this event is significant and far reaching.
So John, congratulations on your fantastic achievement on receiving the Dick Grimm Award. Getting to know you over the last year or so has been a genuine honour and I want to thank you for the lesson you shared with me, likely without realizing it. I will set a default of greater and more significant support for the Canadian Open, and maybe soon venture out and experience professional golf first hand. Like so many golfers in this country, maybe it will drive my passion for this game even more. In closing, the Canadian Open, like the state of the game of golf in 2017, has more positives going for it then we tend to give it credit for. It’s an event worth celebrating and enjoying.