Beat by the heat at the Canadian Open?
OAKVILLE — The Canadian Open is heating up, and it has nothing to do with the competition.
On Friday, temperatures at Oakville’s Glen Abbey Golf Club shot up to 35 C. The spike left everyone from spectators to volunteers looking for creative ways to keep cool. Take Gord Hunter. The 70-year-old travelled to the tournament from his home in Ottawa to help out as a standard bearer. He’ll walk the course three times this weekend, holding the tall white sign that displays their scores.
“What you might know is these things actually act as a sunshade,” he says pointing to the plastic board. “At noon, not so good. But by 4 p.m., you can get some decent shade.”
That’s not to say to Hunter minds the heat. He says he remembers an Open seven or eight years ago when it rained torrentially the entire week — “that was really murder.”
He turns to walk out of the volunteer tent and Robert Ogilvie steps in. He’s red. Sweaty.
Ogilvie’s group teed off at 7 a.m., which means he’s been out on the course for the past five hours. He spent much of that time chasing shade.
“You’re just going from tree to tree to tree,” says the Kincardine resident, 55. “I don’t envy the guys going out now.” Ogilvie isn’t the only one suffering. The heat and wind, which was gusting in from the northwest Friday, are wreaking havoc on an already parched course and making conditions tough for golfers. Course staff — who have had to use city water since
the Abbey’s reservoir went dry last month — are sprinkling the green by hand between groups in a bid to keep the delicate turf alive.
It’s unusual, says Stewart Williams — especially for this part of the world. Over the past 20 years he’s been to the Open maybe a dozen times, and this is one of the hottest.
Williams is one of a handful of meteorologists who work the PGA Tour. He blames the conditions on a “massive” high pressure dome over the central United States which is also invading southern Ontario.
Williams expects the heat to let up slightly over the weekend. However, with Environment Canada calling for highs in the 31 C to 33 C range it’s still going to be a scorcher.
If you’re planning on heading to the Abbey, take advantage of the shade, wear light-coloured clothes and “don’t overdo,” Williams says. And, perhaps most importantly, drink lots of water.
Zach Martin, a paramedic from Kitchener, has similar advice. He says a few people have needed medical assistance already this week, and every case has been related to the heat.
“People don’t drink enough water or they wear the wrong clothing,” he says.
Nearby, spectators are taking shelter under sun hats, umbrellas and a cluster of trees — anything, really, that casts a shadow. Lori and Devon Harvey are an exception.
In the blazing sun alongside the ninth fairway, the mom and son are walking with tall cans of Molson Canadian — their first of the day. They spent the morning following Dustin Johnson and, Friday afternoon, planned to walk another 18 holes with Jason Day.
“It’s smoking hot,” admits Devon, 23. But the breeze helps. And the water. And the beer. There is only one problem: “By the time you get to the bottom of the can, it’s warm.”
How hot was it? Glen Abbey Golf Club staff were watering the greens between groups of players to keep the close-cropped grass alive.