Glen Abbey isn’t go­ing any­where any time soon

SPEC­TA­TOR GOLF

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - GARRY MCKAY Garry McKay is a vet­eran, award-win­ning golf jour­nal­ist and for­mer sports­writer with The Hamil­ton Spec­ta­tor. Gar­rym­ckay1@rogers.com

OAKVILLE — There’s no ques­tion ClubLink wants to turn their Glen Abbey Golf Club into a res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ment.

How­ever, the idea that the iconic Glen Abbey course is host­ing its last RBC Cana­dian Open this week or that bull­doz­ers will soon turn the fair­ways into drive­ways is ab­surd.

You only need to look at what ClubLink is do­ing at Glen Abbey to know that golf will be played there, and by the PGA Tour, for a while yet.

Be­tween the end of last year’s Open and the start of this one, the Glen Abbey main­te­nance staff, led by su­per­in­ten­dent An­drew Gyba, did a com­pete bunker re­build.

“All the bunkers were com­pletely ex­ca­vated. All out­stand­ing drainage is­sues were ad­dressed and we in­stalled a new an­gu­lar sand from Ohio. It’s the best prod­uct on the mar­ket,” said Gyba, adding they are look­ing for­ward to hav­ing the new bunkers for “a few more years, or many more years.”

While Gyba wouldn’t say what the project cost, an­other noted Cana­dian golf course ar­chi­tect said it would be in the half-mil­lion-dol­lar range.

Gyba also said that this fall they plan to re­move many of the gabion rock walls that line much of 16 Mile Creek as it runs through the golf course. They will be re­placed with more nat­u­ral slopes cov­ered in en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly veg­e­ta­tion.

This, too, will not be in­ex­pen­sive. So ask your­self: Why is ClubLink spend­ing this kind of money on the golf course if it won’t be host­ing any more Opens?

If we put fu­ture Cana­dian Opens aside for a minute and look at the one that’s on at Glen Abbey this week, there are two things that you re­ally need to see.

Make sure you stop at the sev­enth hole, the par three ad­ja­cent to the club­house. Golf Canada has turned it into a gi­ant hockey rink with hockey boards all around the tee.

A hockey net has been set up on the am­a­teur tees and the pros, many of whom had never held a hockey stick be­fore, have taken the op­por­tu­nity to fire pucks at it.

The re­ac­tion from the pros was very pos­i­tive. They thought it was a lot of fun. Even Jack Nick­laus, who was up for a Cana­dian Golf Hall of Fame in­duc­tion cer­e­mony, tried it and man­aged to score, al­though the goal did go in off a pho­tog­ra­pher’s foot.

If you’ve never been to the Cana­dian Golf Hall of Fame and Mu­seum be­fore, this is the year. It’s lo­cated in Golf House, which is half­way down the 10th fair­way and off to the left.

What’s new this year is a spe­cial ex­hibit to hon­our Arnold Palmer, who died last year. The King’s first PGA Tour vic­tory was the 1955 Cana­dian Open. The tro­phy that he re­ceived for that vic­tory, which he ad­mit­ted in one of his early books was one of the few that he kept in his home, is on dis­play.

If you go to the ex­hibit, look care­fully at the back of that small tro­phy. It says ‘won by’ and that’s all. The Royal Cana­dian Golf As­so­ci­a­tion never had Arnie’s name en­graved on it. It’s a nice ex­hibit that in­cludes some of his clubs and the score­sheet from his 1955 Cana­dian Open win at the We­ston G&CC in Toronto.

Sun­day is “Arnold Palmer Day” at this year’s Open, and the play­ers are all be­ing asked to wear pins with AP/55 on them.

When Judy Dar­ling Evans was in­ducted into the Cana­dian Golf Hall of Fame along with noted wedge maker Bob Vokey at the open­ing cer­e­monies of the Cana­dian Open, she brought down the house.

“I don’t play much any more,” said the 79-year-old. “A guy asked me the other day what my hand­i­cap was. I told him ‘four chil­dren, an ex­hus­band and a hys­terec­tomy.’” Whole-in-one: Rob Ma­coritti aced the 120-yard 11th hole at Sa­van­nah Golf Links with a gap wedge.

DAVID COOPER, THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Mike Weir kids around with a hockey stick af­ter he hit from the sev­enth tee.

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