The Hamilton Spectator

Course taking shape for RBC Canadian Open

Our Lady Peace and Josh Ross headline concerts at tournament that starts May 28


If you acquired a taste for loud music on an otherwise serene golf course when the RBC Canadian Open came to town in 2019, you’ll be thrilled to hear the tunes are coming back.

Our Lady Peace will be playing the Hamilton Golf and Country Club on the Friday night of this year’s Open. The next night, rising country star Josh Ross will have the stage.

“For those of us who grew up in the ’90s and 2000s, there’s no bigger band than Our Lady Peace,” says tournament director Bryan Crawford.

Let’s pause here for a second because some of you are surely thinking, “Man, it seems early to be talking about this.” Not music. Golf.

You’re right. It does. Winter doesn’t seem that far behind us.

Yet, because of a change in the PGA Tour schedule, the event starts in just six weeks. May 28, to be precise. Which is the earliest it’s been here in the modern era (it was held in September in 2003 and 2006, late July in 2012 and the second week of June in 2019).

That’s posed some new challenges. To make sure winter wasn’t a problem — there was no guarantee we were going to have the mild season we did — work to get bleachers and tents assembled was started back in October. After a hiatus in late December and January, it resumed a couple months ago. A ton has already been done.

There are dozens of risers and seating areas ready to go including new bleachers at the first tee, an elevated walkway for players to get to the range — which will certainly make getting to the practice area easier while also providing a terrific way to spot the pros — and a double-decker viewing area at the popular Rink Hole (a hockey themed Par 3 with arena boards and officials in referee stripes). Along with a bunch more still in progress.

Less obvious to most will be the fact that every green and bunker on the course has been reconstruc­ted and, in some cases, reposition­ed since the last time the event was here.

“Every green is not the same as it was in 2019,” says club COO Alan Carter.

Golf courses have life cycles, he explains. Since most of what was in place was original, it was time for the work to be done.

What this means is that the golfers who’ve played here before will find some changes when putting. And will have to deal with some other new looks along the way.

As for the course, that mild winter appears to have helped. Six weeks out, the track already looks fantastic.

On Wednesday, a PGA Tour agronomist — for the sake of simplicity, we’ll simply call him a grass expert — was on site checking out the fairways and greens.

Moving the tournament a week earlier than ever before could’ve posed some challenges, PJ Ringenberg­er says. Especially if we had a late spring snowfall or really cold temperatur­es. But he says it’s basically playable right now.

“Given two weeks, we could prep this place and be ready to go,” he says.

Wednesday’s news, though, was primarily about the concerts.

The idea of bringing big-time concerts to the course was introduced the last time the Open was here in 2019. A stage was set up on an unused hole near Golf Links Road — HGCC has 27 holes, only 18 are used for the championsh­ip — and more than 15,000 folks stuck around to see Florida Georgia Line. The next night, several thousand more were there for The Glorious Sons.

Since then, it’s been a key part of the event wherever the Open has been played. Especially since it attracts a clientele that may not be die-hard golf fans and introduces them to the game.

Which seems to be working. Ticket sales for this year’s event are already far ahead of last year, Crawford explains.

“It’s been part of a record-breaking run of tournament­s,” he says.

Why Our Lady Piece and Ross this year? In a word, Canadiana.

After Canadian golfer Nick Taylor won last year’s title — the first time since 1954 that a homegrown player won our national championsh­ip — the tournament changed its logo to include his profile. He’s been made one of the faces of the event. Canadian golf is soaring. With all that, a decision was made to celebrate our music, too.

Our Lady Peace is a bestsellin­g band that’s won four Juno Awards and placed 19 of their songs in the top 10 in Canada. Ross is a Waterdown native who grew up in Burlington and played university football for Western before relocating to Nashville for music.

More acts will soon be added.

 ?? CATHIE COWARD THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR ?? Preparatio­n for the Canadian Open in is full swing at the Hamilton Golf and Country Club in Ancaster. The clubhouse and the stands surroundin­g the 18th hole are seen here.
CATHIE COWARD THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR Preparatio­n for the Canadian Open in is full swing at the Hamilton Golf and Country Club in Ancaster. The clubhouse and the stands surroundin­g the 18th hole are seen here.
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