Ontario golf courses to remain open during Stay at Home Order
Piper's Heath Golf Club
TORONTO – Premier Doug Ford and the Ontario government announced today that the province will be under a stay-at-home order effective 12:01am Thursday, April 8th. Included in this announcement is confirmation that outdoor golf courses and driving ranges can remain open.
Provincial golf bodies have been actively engaged with the Ontario government conveying the message that golf is safe and that now, more than ever, safe outdoor recreational options will be critical to ensure the physical and mental well-being of Ontarians.
The golf industry continues to be a leader in providing one of the few safe recreational outlets that are vital during these challenging times.
All Ontario golfers and facilities are required to adhere to the following mandates:
If two riders from different households are on a cart, they must wear a mask while in the cart.
All staff and players must stay at least 6 feet apart.
Courses are required to have clear and consistent screening protocols.
Pre or post game gatherings at not permitted.
Limiting the majority of non-essential retailers to only operate for curbside pick-up and delivery, via appointment, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., with delivery of goods to patrons permitted between 6:00 am and 9:00 pm, and other restrictions.
During the current Stay-At-Home Order, indoor or outdoor (patio) food service is not permitted. Facilities are allowed to proceed with pick up, take out and delivery service (including halfway hut and beverage cart service). All seating must be removed.
Canadian Alexis Card wins girls 7-9 division at Drive, Chip and Putt Championship
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 04: Alexis Card, participant in the girls 7-9, poses with her first place overall trophy during the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship at Augusta National Golf Club on April 04, 2021 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, Ga – Canadian girls continued their success at the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship once again on Sunday with a victory from Cambridge, Ont., native Alexis Card.
Card, 8, won the girls 7-9 division with a total of 23 points for a two-point victory over fellow Canadian Anna Wu of Victoria, B.C. Card impressed getting full points in both the driving and putting categories (10) while rounding it out with three points at the chipping station.
It was Wu stole the show at the chipping station, chipping one in and giving off a memorable reaction which caught the attention of star Phil Mickelson.
With the win, Card becomes the fourth Canadian (all females) to win a Drive, Chip and Putt title in as many years. Savannah Grewal (Mississauga, Ont.) won in 2017, followed by Vanessa Borovilos (Toronto) in 2018 and Nicole Gal (Oakville, Ont.) in 2019.
Cole Roberts of Oshawa, Ont., was the lone male to play in the event, finishing in 7th place in the boys 7-9 division.
RBC PGA Scramble announces 2021 Regional Final Host Locations
Jasper Park Lodge Golf Course
PGA of Canada
(Acton, ON) – The PGA of Canada is pleased to announce that some of Canada’s top venues have been secured as host sites for the 2021 RBC PGA Scramble Regional Finals.
The excitement of the RBC PGA Scramble is growing with the addition of these great facilities from coast-to-coast:
As the premier amateur team golf tournament in the country for teams of family, friends and colleagues, the 2021 edition of the RBC PGA Scramble expects to once again see more than 10,000 golfers participate in local and regional qualifying.
In 2020, the RBC PGA Scramble saw a 73% year-over-year increase in female participation, a number the program hopes to further improve this season. There will be a spot in each regional final reserved for an all-female team.
COVID-19 protocols will be in place at each qualifier in accordance with provincial health authority guidelines. There were no reported cases from any of the 140 RBC PGA Scramble qualifiers in 2020.
The program is also pleased to announce the following updates and highlights for 2021:
Open Local Qualifiers will run as 8-somes where permissible by local health authorities. Select open events will have volunteer scorers, instead.
A Handicap and Scoring Committee is being formed to examine handicap and scoring inaccuracies.
Through our partners at Titleist and FootJoy, prizes for the top teams at Local Qualifiers will have more options for male and female competitors.
Teams that have qualified for Regional Finals three out of the past five years are required to split up by 50% to expand the program and allow more opportunities for all teams to enjoy the experience that the RBC PGA Scramble provides.
There will continue to be a female wild card team offered in any region where an all-female team does not qualify, ensuring representation in every Regional Final.
Like in 2020, in any region where less than 18 teams qualify, alternate teams will be invited based on their performance in Local Qualifiers.
New partners that will be announced shortly will offer exciting perks for competitors.
Additional staff have been hired in response to the additional demand as the program continues to grow.
Local qualifying events with 16 or less teams will qualify one team, 17 or more teams will qualify two teams.
For more information about the RBC PGA Scramble, visit:
Canadians needing a social outlet and a sense of recreational normalcy during the uncertainty of the pandemic in 2020 turned to golf in a major way. Now Golf Canada, with the support of industry partners, will build on the excitement, increased interest, and elevated levels of play with a national golfer retention campaign to welcome new and returning players back to the golf course in 2021.
The campaign – GOLF IS CALLING – is a Canada-wide marketing initiative to speak to new, younger golfers as well as the community of avid players, each uniquely drawn to the game whether it be for exercise, the social experience or the challenge of the sport.
The golfer retention campaign is being led in partnership with Golf Canada’s Industry Advisory Council, a group of industry professionals that includes course owners, operators, general managers, PGA of Canada professionals, superintendents, and other stakeholders in the game.
For Golf Canada CEO Laurence Applebaum, golf’s emergence through the pandemic as a safe, social, and inclusive activity during an extremely challenging period was a silver lining for a sport enjoyed by nearly 6M Canadians annually.
“Golf is a sport of invitation, where we bring others along to experience and enjoy the game for a lifetime. GOLF IS CALLING is also a return invitation to the avid players and new enthusiasts who enjoyed the game in record numbers this past year. It is also an outreach and welcome to young and diverse audiences and a powerful confirmation that our sport offers the healthy attributes, safe environment, and industry capacity of nearly 2,300 facilities to support physical, social, and mental well-being in a meaningful way.”
GOLF IS CALLING features a vibrant and new look for golf. The campaign messaging and creative was informed by deep market research as well as creative trends from across industries and broader sport to reflect an industry-wide effort to promote golf participation. This season long, national marketing campaign features a fresh and inviting energy as the calling for Canadians to play more golf.
“As marketers and sport leaders, we look for moments to connect with golfers, and this past year has offered an unparalleled signature moment for the golf community to influence and entrench behaviours that will benefit our sport for the long run,” said Golf Canada Chief Marketing Officer Vanessa Morbi. “With more than 700 customizable assets that golf facilities and industry partners can leverage in their marketing efforts, this is a special moment to rally the full weight and collective voice of our sport to inspire more play in 2021.”
The suite of tools is available to golf courses and industry stakeholders to share in national roll-out of the golfer retention campaign. The bilingual campaign will be presented as SORTEZ, GOLFEZ across all French language assets and Golf Canada will support the campaign with a paid media buy executed across social and digital channels.
In conjunction with the campaign, Golf Canada has also relaunched its website as a portal to enhance the golfer experience and support tee-time booking through a national course look-up tool. This feature can be found on www.golfcanada.ca and will connect golfers with facilities across the country.
Despite a season suspended in most parts of Canada through early May, data from the National Golf Course Owners Association (NGCOA) of Canada reported a 18.9% increase in total rounds played across the country in 2020. Golf Canada members as well as public players who track an official handicap index experienced a significant lift in play, posting a record 7.8M scores to the Golf Canada Score Centre, a 7% lift over the prior year with monthly score posting records set from June through October.
Canadian levels of engagement in the sport mirrored strong growth metrics across North America as new and avid players invested in tee times as well as memberships, equipment, league play, junior golf, and instruction.
As Canadian golf facilities continue to manage the impact of the pandemic on non-golf revenues, the game is thriving as a safe and healthy recreational option that drives significant economic, employment, tourism, environmental and charity benefits to communities across Canada.
Supported by comprehensive healthy and safety protocols enacted by the golf community as well as adjustments made to the golf course experience, the sport is well positioned with momentum.
“Creating a national campaign that speaks to golfers of varying abilities and connection to the game is no easy feat, and we continue to be extremely sensitive to the disastrous impact of the pandemic which has taken a significant emotional, economic and mental toll,” added Shawn Evans, President and CEO of GolfNorth Properties who is also Chair of the Golf Industry Advisory Council. “At the same time, we see the opportunity in golf’s emergence through the pandemic to present our sport in a fresh way to new audiences with a visceral consumer experience that will be noticed.”
From zero to full in 40 seconds, and other strange tales from the 2020 golf season
GreyHawk Golf Club (ClubLink)
Just how busy were golf courses across Canada in 2020?
Early one morning at the beginning of the season, Stephen Jardeleza positioned himself in front of his computer at GreyHawk Golf Club. On his screen was a blank tee sheet for the Ottawa club where he is the Director of Operations.
In a few minutes, the computerized tee-times reservation system would open for members to begin booking tee times for the upcoming Saturday. Up for grabs were 130 tee times across the club’s 36 holes, which, if fully booked, would work out to 520 golfers.
At 7 a.m., the tee sheet came alive. “In 40 seconds, our tee sheet was fully booked,” Jardeleza said. “And this happened every day.”
The 2020 golf season—and the year—will go down in infamy as one of the strangest that most of us will ever experience.
Faced with a mysterious and deadly nemesis, golf provided a beacon of badly needed joy amid fear and frustration. We were smitten. We couldn’t get enough golf.
“It didn’t matter that there was a worldwide pandemic,” said Simon Bevan, General Manager of Riverbend Golf Club in London. “Golf was like a drug. We all wanted to hit the little white ball.”
Now that the season has ended, the golf club industry in Canada is celebrating a record year in which rounds skyrocketed to historic proportions. Thousands of people took up golf—some for the first time, and some came back to the game—and veteran golfers played more than they ever have.
But right out of the be-careful-what-you-wish-for playbook, the industry faced the challenge of how to mollify established golfers frustrated that they could no longer get to the first tee when they wanted.
Back in April, with cities around the world looking like ghost towns, and major league sports and the PGA TOUR shut down, golfers held on to a slender thread of hope that a golf season might be possible.
By early May, golfers in Ontario and Quebec had endured two months of a gruelling lockdown, made worse by a tantalizingly warm spring that screamed golf. Golfers ached for their game. A friend said, “Golfers can distance. I play golf with people. I don’t dance with them.”
After weeks of consultation with the golf industry on safety measures, the Ontario government said courses could open May 16. Quebec set May 20 as its opening day.
Golf clubs had only a few days to finish their preparations in order to keep golfers safe. Staff removed ball washers, water coolers, benches and outfitted flagsticks with doo-hickeys that allowed you to extricate your ball without having to touch the stick.
Held back from their usual start to the season, golfers were ravenous. On May 15—the first day that tee times could be booked—thousands of ClubLink Members went online to reserve their tee times at 7 a.m., causing the system to crash.
Many technology platforms serving the golf industry were overwhelmed. When Golf Ontario opened its online tournament registration on June 24, 17,000 people visited its site in a matter of minutes, causing it to crash for the first time in its history, according to executive director Mike Kelly.
On those first wonderful days of the 2020 golf season, golfers were over the moon to play and golf club personnel were cautiously nervous.
“We were hoping that members wouldn’t contract the virus just from touching things,” said Paul Carrothers, Director of Golf at Royal Ottawa Golf Club.
Thousands of golfers wanted to play the game—not just because they are an extremely obsessive bunch—but also to escape the same four walls at home. Without having to travel for work or commute, working from home also afforded many golfers the freedom to play when they wanted. More or less.
With offices and schools closed, and nearly every other option for having fun shut down, golf became the ‘it’ activity. Spouses, friends and kids who had not tried golf, and those who had given up the game, were playing.
“Almost all of the guys that I played slow-pitch with every Tuesday for 20 years were now playing golf,” said Kevin Thistle, CEO of the PGA of Canada. “The way we play golf, work, watch sports—it’s all changing, and forcing us to adapt.”
From the once-a-year golfer to the 100-rounds-plus player, everyone played more—and wanted more.
“Players who would normally play 30 to 40 rounds played 70 to 80 rounds,” said Adam Tobin, Director of Golf at Whistle Bear Golf Club in Cambridge.
Even with most corporate events cancelled at most clubs, tee times became a precious commodity.
By the end of June, Canadians had played more than 1.5 million rounds during the month, an increase of 17 per cent over June 2019. And that’s a monumental feat folks when you consider June is THE busiest and best month to play. For an industry that faced media reports a few years earlier that it was declining, business was booming.
But for avid golfers who routinely play three or more rounds a week and were used to convenient tee times, it was not all sunshine and rainbows.
“There was a lot of frustration,” said Jason Wyatt, Head Professional at Sunningdale Golf & Country Club in London, where demand shot up 52 percent over 2019 with the same number of members. “There were people who wanted an 8 a.m. time but had to settle for hours later.”
Even playing ‘executive’ or nine-hole courses was a challenge. “There were times that we had six groups lined up to play our nine-hole course,” said Dennis Firth, Head Professional at Royal Montreal which experienced a 30 percent increase in rounds over 2019. “It was unprecedented.”
As a golfer, and the fellow in charge of tracking golfers across the country for Golf Canada, Adam Helmer said he could no longer just head out to play. He had to become organized in scheduling his golf.
“A downside of golf being so popular was that not everyone was able to get the tee time they wanted,” said Helmer, senior director of Golf Services for Golf Canada.
The problem was simple. Demand for tee times appeared limitless, but every course has a finite number of holes and daylight. And to keep golfers from getting too close to one another, most clubs spaced out tee times, which meant fewer golfers on the course.
John Finlayson, Chief Operating Officer of ClubLink, says that—as a general rule of thumb—a private golf club with 18 holes carries about 400 full dues-paying members to sustain its business.
But even in June when the days are longest, there’s only enough room to accommodate about 225 golfers. “If 300 people want to play that course that day, you have a problem,” said Finlayson, whose ClubLink courses saw a 29 percent increase in rounds in 2020 compared with 2019.
Many private clubs responded by restricting the number of guests that members could bring, and restricted access for certain classes of memberships.
“To make room for our full members, we had to restrict our legacy and out-of-town members,” said Ian Leggatt, General Manager of Summit Golf Club in Richmond Hill. “We had to communicate to them that these are unusual times,” said Leggatt, who has since moved to the same position at St. George’s Golf and Country Club in Toronto.
Initially, Leggatt and other senior club managers wondered if golfers would “drift from the game” because they couldn’t socialize in the clubhouse restaurant afterwards,
and the on-course experience was altered.
But with fewer golfers on the course, no need to rake bunkers, and single riders on carts, the speed of play improved dramatically.
“The measures were taken for safety, but it provided a better experience,” Finlayson said. “Most golfers expect to play 18 holes in 4 to 4.5 hours, but this year a 4-hour round was considered a bit slow.”
Nonetheless, many golfers were frustrated about access, and many golf clubs stepped up their communication efforts to help their members adapt.
“You couldn’t over-communicate,” Leggatt said. “This whole thing was shifting, and there was no template on how to make it work better.”
It affected everyone, including ClubLink Member and CEO of the National Golf Course Owners Association of Canada, Jeff Calderwood.
“I’d jump on the computer five days in advance at 7 a.m. this fall, and there were often no times at Eagle Creek (his Home Club in Ottawa),” he said. “It illustrated the dilemma we had.”
Industry leaders such as Calderwood are thankful golf provided a silver lining during a pandemic, but they are also mindful that the industry is challenged by how it satisfies core golfers while retaining new players.
“I don’t claim to have all the answers. You could restructure and find that, perhaps with a vaccine, demand doesn’t stay so high, and then you’re not sustainable if you got it wrong.”
Mike Kelly of Golf Ontario was among the industry leaders who consulted with the Ontario government to allow clubs to open this season, and he’s grateful golfers turned a possible disaster into a banner year for golf.
As a golf administrator who represents the sport in Ontario, as well as players who want to play and have fun, Kelly says he can’t lose focus on what’s truly important.
“Our job is to provide a safe environment. That’s our No. 1 priority during this pandemic. We can’t screw this up. The game has grown and the industry will evolve, but the priority must be safety.”
Canadians golfers are playing golf and adapting to new technology such as the Golf Canada App like never before.
In a year where record numbers of recreational rounds were registered with Golf Canada through June (1.2 million), July (1.6M), August (1.5M), September (1.5M) and October (618,500) embracing technology and new apps has become a way of life for most Canadians who have spent much of 2020 learning to deal with COVID-19 lockdowns, quarantines and social distancing measures.
“It has been here for years, creeping into our lives, but the rapid spread of technology accelerated by the pandemic has led to a digital transformation like no other – even for golfers, who now book the vast majority of their tee times on-line, post their scores digitally and use a virtual scorecard,” says Vanessa Morbi, Senior Director of Marketing at Golf Canada.
We carry less cash – it is all about contactless digital payments. We go to school less – it is all about virtual distance learning. We do not go to work as much or see people face-to-face – it is all about remote working and Zoom meetings. So much for seeing your doctor in their office – we are now using Telehealth. Friday night at the movies or concerts have become almost nostalgic – it is now all about on-line entertainment and the increase of endless streaming services. We shop on-line like never before. We are ordering take-out like never before and we connect with loved ones using the internet much more than we ever would have imagined. The COVID-19 digital transformation is now part of the fabric of our lives and there is mostly likely an app for that or it is in the works.
“Many businesses across this land have been extremely busy creating and expanding digital platforms to maintain or grow their business, while connecting with old and new consumers in creative ways,” added Morbi. “The launch of Golf Canada’s bilingual app on August 1, 2020 was a perfect parallel with the smartphone app boom. It has hit a real sweet spot with Canadian golfers.”
Golf Canada experienced a tremendous 175% increase in net-new downloads of its app between August 1 and October 1. Monthly active users soared 77% over last year and monthly app sessions are up 67%. Score posting for handicap purposes has been hugely popular with users of the new app. Score posting for September 2020 was up 28% versus September 2019.
“In my books Golf Canada really hit a home run with this app and I’m looking forward to seeing what they have in store for 2021,” says Frank Novello, a member at Dundas Valley G&CC in Ontario. “I love the new interface. It is so simple to use. I really like the new options and user experience. Everything is at your fingertips. It’s awesome actually.”
Golfers can enter their scores on the app as they play hole-by-hole or at the end of a game. Shot-by-shot GPS is also hugely popular. Golfers can track a variety of stats including driving accuracy, greens in regulation, putting strokes, sand shots and up & downs. You can also add friends and track those scores following their rounds.
“All my buddies at Dundas Valley use it. We have a little Saturday morning match for a beer and we use the app to keep track of how everyone did. It is a ton of fun,” Novello adds, noting that due to COVID-19, the club, like many others, eliminated traditional scorecards and pencils as a safety precaution.
In September, Novello went on a buddies’ golf trip. The two foursomes played Lora Bay, Batteaux Creek, Monterra and Cobble Beach in the Collingwood area.
“Once you start using the app it simplifies the game,” he added. “It was easy to determine our handicaps for each of the courses based on slope and course rating of each course and using the GPS feature on a course you’re not familiar with proved to be a real shot saver.”
As the 2020 golf season winds down, Golf Canada is delighted with the success of the app to date. During a time when Canadians have been separated and distanced from each other as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the app allowed golfers to better connect with the game they love and those they play it with.
The app is available for download for both iOS and Android mobile devices from the App Store and Google Play at no cost. Some benefits and features require a Golf Canada membership to use.
“COVID-19 has demonstrated the importance of digital readiness, which allows business and life to continue as usual – as much as possible – during pandemics,” Morbi says. “The Golf Canada App was our leap forward during a challenging year. We are preparing to include exciting new features including Shot Tracer and gaming for 2021 to build on the momentum and create a more connected golf community among our 1,400 member clubs and those who play the game.”
To download the new Golf Canada App – a free tool for Canadian golfers to enhance their course experience and go digital with their game – click here.
Ralph Bauer named Director of Instruction at Hamilton Golf and Country Club
Ralph Bauer is taking on the role of Director of Instruction at Hamilton Golf and Country Club (HGCC) starting December 1, 2020.
After spending the past 12 years coaching full-time on the PGA TOUR, Ralph is looking forward to working with members and calling Hamilton home in his new full-time position.
“After the US Open at Winged Foot in September, I decided it was time to transition off the PGA TOUR and stay closer to home, the Director of Instruction job at HGCC was always my dream job since the day I first applied for it 25 years ago,” says Bauer, who has spent four stints in quarantine and isolation as a result of COVID-19 and has had lots of time to consider his options moving forward. He called his PGA TOUR players and other students to let them know of his change of plans and he is thrilled to have accepted the job.
This is the next step in elevating the member learning experience at HGCC.
“Ralph’s down to earth personality, dedicated skill set to improve the player and increase enjoyment in the game is one that fits well within the HGCC Golf Academy’s mission, visions and values,” says HGCC Head Golf Professional, Emerson Mahoney. “The mission of the HGCC Golf Academy is to provide the HGCC membership with access to world-class instruction and coaching. Under Ralph’s leadership, we will develop programs to improve and elevate the enjoyment of our most novice to most seasoned members of the club.”
Ralph says his goal is to continue to improve as a coach and an instructor. The 25-year member of the PGA of Canada views himself as a holistic golf coach/teacher. He teaches his students to practice properly and efficiently, so they get the most out of their time on the range, avoid injuries and enjoy the game more. He has a deep and abiding love of the game and everything that goes into enjoying it more and all things related to game improvement.
“I have spent the past two decades trying to become the best golf coach in the world and now I’m focused on being the best Director of Instruction in the world,” Ralph says. He has collaborated with many of the top trainers and coaches in the world, has visited and taught students at more than half of the top-100 courses in the world and seen vibrant teaching programs in action. He was the Golf Ontario Head Coach for several years and also had several roles with Team Canada, notably as the Assistant Coach from 2010 to 2012.
Ralph has coached competitors at all four majors, the past two Presidents Cups, the 2016 Summer Olympics and at every PGA Tour stop. His past and present students include Adam Hadwin, Mackenzie Hughes, David Hearn, Graham DeLaet, Nick Taylor, Adam Svensson, Lucas Glover, Gary Woodland, Kyle Stanley, Jhonny Vegas, JJ Spaun, Kevin Chappell, Anirban Lahiri and Brandon Harkins. His players have won 25 Golf Ontario provincial championships and 19 of the last 20 years, he has had a student make Golf Canada’s national amateur team.
“I don’t treat a tour player any different than I would any other student. My goal is to work with the student to improve their game” says Bauer. “I started in the business teaching beginner women golfers at Turkey Point GC 27 years ago. I still remember it as a nerve-racking experience. It took me a few years to understand that my students were nervous too. Now, I try to get my students to feel relaxed during a lesson, so they can be in a calm mental state and ready to learn and improve.”
He lives in Turkey Point, with his wife Margaret. They have three grown daughters; Rebecca, who was the Women’s Golf Team Captain at McMaster University; Rachel who is the Women’s Golf Team Captain at the University of Guelph and Leah, who attends King’s College.
Bauer is looking forward to developing a strong junior program at HGCC. “I believe we can have the best junior program in the world right here at HGCC,” he added.
They are some of Canada’s most renowned golf legends, a list amassed of professional and amateur players, course architects and administrators. They have all contributed to the growth of the game of golf in this country. However, their contributions to golf pale in comparison to their contributions to the fabric of our nation.
November 11 is Remembrance Day. A day we remember and pay tribute to the brave men and women who have served in our armed forces. What better day to remember Canadian golfers of the past who helped our nation during its greatest times of need.
The following are just some of the contributions Canadian golf legends made to the Allied forces during the First and Second World Wars.
During World War I, Hamilton, Ont. native Florence Harvey, along with other women golfers in Canada, raised enough money to purchase an ambulance for use in Serbia.
A staunch advocate of women’s golf, Harvey founded and held the position of Secretary of the Canadian Ladies Golf Union – later known as the former Canadian Ladies’ Golf Association (CLGA).
One of the top players of her day, Harvey won the 1903 and 1904 Canadian Ladies’ championship, while capturing the Ontario Ladies Championship on four occasions.
During WWII, the CLGA also raised money, this time their money went towards the purchase of a Spitfire plane.
Karl Keffer is best known for becoming the first Canadian-born golfer to win our national championship – the Canadian Open – in 1909. He also won in 1914.
Keffer, from Tottenham, Ont., was a founding member of the PGA of Canada and held numerous positions during his 29-year involvement with the association including; secretary-treasurer, captain and president. Keffer, a war veteran, pleaded with other golf professionals of his day to join the war effort.
Most golf enthusiasts will know Stanley Thompson as a renowned Canadian golf course architect. Thompson, who was born in Toronto, has 200 course designs to his credit throughout an illustrious career as an architect with a majority of them residing in Canada.
However, many don’t know Thompson was awarded a Bronze Star for his service in WWI.
Donald Carrick, born in Thunder Bay, Ont., was a standout amateur golfer. A two time Canadian Amateur champion, Carrick also won the 1924 US Junior Boy’s Championship, several Ontario amateur titles and played for Canada against the British Walker Cup team before retiring from competitive golf in 1933 to focus on his family and law practice. Carrick would become a political figure and also competed as a boxer in the 1928 Summer Olympics.
Carrick also received the Order of the British Empire (O.B.E) for his service in the Royal Artillery during WWII.
Winnipeg’s Geoffrey Cornish, one of the legendary Stanley Thompson’s protégés, fashioned a career in golf course architecture. He was one of the best Canada has ever produced. With a career that included more than 200 golf course designs or remodellings, Cornish turned his attention towards chronicling the history of his field, becoming an author and penning several internationally-acclaimed books on golf course architecture in the later part of his career.
Cornish was a Major in the Canadian Army, serving in Europe from 1940-45.
To these and other notable figures in Canadian golf who have supported our troops as well as all of the brave men and women who have served our country – thank you.
My wife and I have played together in many events over the years but this summer we tried a new one: the RBC PGA Scramble presented by The Lincoln Motor Company.
Now in its fifth year, the national series survived myriad challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, it experienced its most successful year to date.
“There was so much uncertainty at the start of the season,” says Adam LeBrun, managing director of championships and foundation for the PGA of Canada. “The pandemic affected everything and we were reacting to new developments every day it seemed. At one point early on, we thought we would be happy if we had 3,000 participants.”
As it turned out, my wife and I were two of about 11,000 participants who signed up to play in one of the team scramble’s 140 local qualifiers. We might not have won to advance to the regional final (OK, so we finished second last) but we had a great day and were impressed by the meticulous organizational framework.
“Unexpectedly, golf as a whole boomed this season,” LeBrun says. “As a result, our participation increased by about 40 per cent over 2019 and we had more venues sign up, many for the first time.”
That’s not to say it was all good news. For the past three years, the national final has taken place at renowned Cabot Links on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia. In August, due to travel restrictions imposed in response to COVID-19, that was cancelled. (A return to Cabot is in the plans for 2021, COVID-dependent, of course.)
To compensate, the regional events were enhanced with more than $150,000 worth of gifting and prizing. The second- and third-place teams won a pro shop gift certificate at their regional venue.
The overall winning team was announced Sept. 21. Cole Bryant, Lee Bryant, Mike Hughston, Joe Saunders and PGA of Canada professional Nathan Grieve from Talking Rock Golf Course in Chase, B.C., edged Team Crimson Ridge from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., by a mere 0.91 score differential.*
In recognition of their accomplishment, the Talking Rock team was awarded a VIP experience at next year’s RBC Canadian Open at St. George’s Golf and Country Club in Etobicoke, Ont., including airfare, accommodations and tickets.
As well, a charitable donation option resulted in $4,350 being contributed to The Frontline Fund which supports Canadian healthcare workers in the fight against COVID-19.
The RBC PGA Scramble is nothing if not inclusive. Female participation grew 73 per cent year-over-year thanks to the creation of an all-female spot at each regional final. LeBrun says the age of participants ranged from 20 to 80 and the handicaps varied from the plus side to the mid-30s. “We even had one new golfer with the maximum Handicap Index of 54.”
But one demographic is not welcome. Sandbaggers need not apply and, if they do, they get booted out. With prejudice.
Again due to the pandemic, the usual format of eightsomes was not practicable so foursomes were the norm this time around, thus potentially opening the door for unscrupulous, unethical players.
“We had some instances,” says LeBrun, “but we reached out to Golf Canada in order to check scoring record details and it’s pretty easy to determine if something is fishy.
“In order to maintain the integrity and credibility of the program, we handed out a few suspensions and, as a committee, decided to make them pretty substantial.” That means a five-year ban from the event plus the miscreant’s home club and provincial association are notified.
“We designed the program with the intention of creating a fun, professional-like competition accessible to golfers of all skill levels,” the PGA of Canada emphasizes.
If the experience my wife and I had is any indication of what occurred nationally, they achieved that goal. We’ll try again next year. Who knows? Maybe third-last is possible…