Hamilton area still option for Open home
There’s still a chance the Canadian Open will find a permanent home near Hamilton, and if it does one of the greatest golfers in history will have had a say in it.
Bill Paul, the chief championship officer for Golf Canada, said the list of potential sites for a championship course has now been whittled down to three “solid” locations in Ontario, one of which is in “close proximity” to the city. Where, exactly? He won’t say. But here is what we do know:
Paul is hunting for hundreds of hectares of land for an ambitious multi-use development that would also house sports fields, recreation facilities, Canada’s Golf Hall of Fame and Museum and other amenities. He planned to visit a “couple of places” — his words — with Jack Nicklaus following the tournament’s opening ceremony and hall of fame induction at Glen Abbey Golf Club Tuesday.
Those places could include anything from fully developed golf courses to completely undeveloped land. It’s not likely the pair toured King’s Forest, however — city staff previously deemed the 120-hectare municipal course in the Red Hill too small to suit Golf Canada’s plan.
As for Nicklaus’s involvement in the process, Paul called the golf legend “a valued opinion” and remained mum on whether he has been tapped to design the project’s championship course. He also noted “it would be cool to have a Canadian designer.”
Nicklaus, meanwhile, described his role as “a work in progress.”
“I’ve been up here before looking at property and trying to settle on something that may work out,” he added. “Nothing has been officially signed.”
An Ohio native, Nicklaus is the architect of Glen Abbey — the Canadian Open’s primary venue and his first solo design. But, with owner ClubLink intending to turn the property into a subdivision, the tournament’s days there look to be numbered.
In a scrum with reporters, Nicklaus was pragmatic when asked a broad question about the sale and development of golf courses.
“It is what it is,” he said. “Glen Abbey is under pressure from that standpoint and I’d hate to see it torn down, but progress moves on. If we got this golf course 41 years ago, I think we could do something better today. I think I’ve gotten better.” He also voiced support for Paul’s vision for the tournament, saying that holding the Canadian Open at Glen Abbey — even on a semi-permanent basis — has “contributed a lot to the game of golf in Canada and it does show you that one location does help you grow the game.” If you really want to grow something significant, he added, “the best you can do is be at one place.”
Since it was established in 1976, Glen Abbey has hosted the Canadian Open a record 29 times.
Paul said he first contacted Nicklaus in 2014, when the golf executive began his search for a permanent home for the tournament. He was Canadian Open director at the time and Nicklaus, a seventime runner-up at Canada’s national championship, was eager to help.
Since then few details have emerged about the project or its potential location — although one of the three shortlisted sites is known.
In Vaughan, city councillors recently approved a $700,000-or-more study to determine if a 365hectare rectangle of dump and parkland northwest of Dufferin Street and Major Mackenzie Drive is suitable.
Golf Canada and Vaughan are expected to split the bill. Asked about the selection process, Paul was clear: “It’s not a competition. It’s trying to get the best site.” He said it’s possible it won’t even be one of the three spots still in the running. He started out with a long list of 35 properties from coast to coast. Paul said he expects a decision to be made and presented to Golf Canada’s board of directors in early December.
Not bad for a rookie. For the first time in his life, golf legend Jack Nicklaus took a few shots with a hockey stick and puck, on the seventh tee, named The Rink, at Glen Abbey on Tuesday.