Don’t hold your breath waiting for Tiger Woods to start designing a course in Canada any time soon.
Lorne Rubenstein suggested that possibility in his Globe and Mail column last week after a discussion with RBC Canadian Open tournament director Bill Paul, who apparently plans to pursue the idea, which was floated earlier this year to the Tiger camp.
The idea has some validity, based on history. Back in the ‘70s, Jack Nicklaus, the Tiger of his day, was brought in to design Glen Abbey, which became the unofficial home of the Open for years. There were other benefits to that move, too.
Nicklaus became a regular at the Open, although he never won it, and many of the top names of the day joined him in Canada. The Royal Canadian Golf Association would like to see its national championship return to the top of the heap on the PGA Tour, and the presence of the Big Kahuna would go a long way.
However, times have changed big time over the past three decades. For one thing, the cash-strapped RCGA doesn’t have the kind of money it would take to entice Tiger, a cost believed to be between eight and $10-million, to start designing.
The RCGA’s limited resources have been made perfectly clear by executive director Scott Simmons, who hammered that point home when he introduced the association’s three-year strategic plan earlier this year.
Even if the money was there, it’s unlikely that the RCGA would want to touch off another battle with the National Golf Course Owners Association, which has opposed the RCGA owning golf courses since it sold the Abbey to ClubLink back in 1999.
That battle came to a head a few years ago when the NGCOA moved to have its member clubs withhold RCGA dues over the latter’s interest in building a course in British Columbia. The RCGA and NGCOA have been existing in peace recently and it’s unlikely that either side would want to cause any disruptions.
So, it would come down to an individual owner or corporation to back such a project, but take a look at the financial headlines of the past week if you think anybody or any company is willing to shell out that kind of coin on a golf course.
It’s believed Alberta would be the logical choice for such a project and while it’s a common perception that its oil-rich economy is booming, commodities have taken a hit recently and the price of a barrel of oil will continue to drop, according to many analysts, so it’s worth wondering how long the Alberta boom continues.
Whoever would back such a project would go into it with the idea of having its star designer playing it one day as part of the field at the Canadian Open. That would make an instant impact, but how long would it last? Would it be enough for such a sizeable investment?
Consider the Tiger course, if it started in 2009, would take at least a couple of years to become a reality and by the time it was completed, Woods would be 35 or 36 at that point.
If the course was to become a part of a Canadian Open rotation, which still doesn’t exist at this point, how many times would you see Tiger in the field – maybe once or twice?
There are two things a potential owner has to consider before making such an investment, and one is highly speculative.
How long will Woods play? He will likely have broken Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors in a couple of years, giving him a few more seasons to pad that, but will he play past the age of 40 and, even if he does, will he cut back on his schedule, yet still be willing to come to Canada?
The other factor is more tangible, but the RCGA and/or RBC aren’t likely to forget the Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver markets to have Tiger play on his own design, so what then is the incentive for Woods to play in Canada?
A Tiger course is a nice idea on paper, but not one that will happen right away, especially with owners of existing high end golf courses more than a little concerned about the current economic climate. Given the time it would take to get such a project running, you have to wonder if it will happen at all.
There’s a long road between theory and reality and this one seems particularly arduous.