There is absolutely no doubt that RBC Canadian Open Tournament Director Brent McLaughlin has a sense of humour. (For an up-close and personal view of McLaughlin, click here.)
But when he says, “This is not your parents’ RBC Canadian Open,” he is most definitely not kidding.
Just as golf in general is figuring out how to reach a younger audience, the RBC Canadian Open has tried to hit all the hot buttons when it takes place next week at Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ont.
The key buzzwords when speaking to McLaughlin about the Open include “family, innovation, engagement, interaction.” In summary, he says this year’s championship will be “a festival, a party, a celebration.”
“Bill Paul [previously the RBC Canadian Open’s Tournament Director for 22 years and now Golf Canada’s Chief Championships Officer] was at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and was impressed with the fan-friendly atmosphere,” says McLaughlin. “When he came back, we worked to create a similar atmosphere. We are proud that our Open is already considered among the PGA TOUR’s most fan-friendly events but we knew we could do much more to enhance that, to make it a must-see event for families and golf fans of all ages.”
The result of that determination is impressive.
As it hosts its record 27th RBC Canadian Open, Glen Abbey remains among the best spectator golf courses in the world. Justifiably, this year’s field will feature some of the most exciting professionals in the world, including Bubba Watson, Jason Day, Matt Kuchar, Jim Furyk, Graeme McDowell and Brandt Snedeker, who won the 2013 RBC Canadian Open when last played at Glen Abbey. A Canadian contingent of 15 is headlined by Graham DeLaet, Mike Weir, David Hearn and Adam Hadwin.
And now, thanks to some remarkable innovations, the experience outside the ropes will equal that reputation.
While the competition gets serious when the first tee shot of the championship is hit on the morning of Thursday, July 23, much more festivity precedes that.
On Saturday, July 18, the top-performing juniors from the nationwide CN Future Links Junior Skills Challenge will compete in the national championship. The next day, they will play in a Ryder Cup-style event on the tournament course. On the Monday of tournament week, they will have a chance to caddie in the Golf Canada Foundation Pro-Am and, on Wednesday, they can walk with a pro inside the ropes. (All kids under the age of 17 receive free admission to the RBC Canadian Open all week long.)
“Recognizing some of the best junior golfers in Canada is a great start to Open week,” says McLaughlin. “Then some players start arriving and the excitement builds from there.”
Giant HDTV screens make it easy for spectators to follow the TV broadcast. Fans in the Molson Canadian 67 19th Hole can almost reach out and touch players. Getting spectators as close as possible to their golf icons is just one indication of the new innovations.Boston Pizza has come on board to provide food services as well as one of three food trucks on the premises.
“We want to entertain everyone who comes out,” says McLaughlin. “We also want to underline the historic importance of the Open and Glen Abbey. As well, we want them to know that Glen Abbey is the home of Golf Canada and the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame and Museum.”
To emphasize that, the Canadian Golf Museum and Hall of Fame is hosting a beer garden, speaker series and phone-charging stations.
“We hope there is something for everyone at this year’s RBC Canadian Open. We’ve tried to accomplish that,” says McLaughlin. “And if we haven’t, we want to hear about it. Our goal is to make the RBC Canadian Open the best and most entertaining tournament on the PGA Tour.”
For a complete list of all the exciting activities at the 2015 RBC Canadian Open, click here.
To order tickets, click here.