Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Year in Review – Part Two – The Newsmakers in Canada











Executive Director Stephen Ross is Out

“The decision was made following a recent meeting with members of the RCGA’s Executive Committee, after which it was recommended by the Committee and mutually agreed upon by Ross that he steps down as Executive Director.”

Stephen Ross didn’t agree to go – in reality – he was told to resign. The RCGA was under pressure from recent scrutiny from the golf media – probably brought on by Robert Thompson’s expose in Score. The National Golf Course Owners couldn’t work with him and other organizations expressed difficulties in dealing with the RCGA under his watch. Stephen was also struggling to find a replacement for Bell and the financial pressure was probably the straw that broke the camels back. The RCGA had to make a change – even if Stephen wasn’t totally at blame – that perception would always be that he was.












The New Executive Director - Scott Simmons

Some thought his appointment was a disappointment since the association was hiring an insider with clear links to the previous administration of Stephen Ross. They point to the fact that Scott still has not cleaned house and things still run as they always have – despite the lack of a sponsor. Others counter that his inside knowledge of the RCGA is an asset and we must give him time to make change after he fully reviews the organization. Bob Weeks went so far as to mention that Scott was not happy with the way things were and will make change.

Found a Sponsor

“Oakville, Ont. (RCGA) – The Royal Canadian Golf Association (RCGA) announced on November 1st, 2007 that RBC has agreed to a sponsorship agreement to become title sponsor of the PGA Tour’s Canadian Open through 2012. Financial details and terms of the partnership were not disclosed.”

They finally found the sponsor – so now will the organization change? The biggest question I would like to ask them is why they are in the business of elite level player development and barely involved with grass root development – which in my opinion has a far greater value for the future of the game.

Mike Weir Moves into Architecture

The biggest architectural news this year was Mike Weir’s decision to finally get into designing golf courses. You must admire Mike’s choice to not rush to cash in on his fame and take money while other architect are doing all the work behind the scenes. Mike has clearly articulated a different vision based upon Coore and Crenshaw. He plans to only build one or two project to ensure quality and build a team around himself in the same manner. The question now is who will play Coore to his Crenshaw.

Lorne Rubenstein enters the Hall of Fame

On Wednesday June 22nd Lorne Rubenstein went into the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame. It was a great day for anyone who loves the game. The Hall of Fame has lots of great players but too few people that have “only” developed the game. Lorne is someone who has spent a lifetime educating us about the subtle nuances of golf. He’s inspired us to love the game through his writings on the spiritual parts of golf. He reminds us that the game is as much about bonds of friendship and small moments as it is about a key putt in a tournament. It was good day for golf – full of friends and family - just like the game.

Best Article – A Matter of Race

I live it here because Canada’s generally liberal views – I’m originally English if you didn’t know - but open racism is still not that long gone in Canada. Just ask any older member of a Jewish Club when they finally felt they were no longer excluded from the mainstream of golf and you will be shocked. Bill McWilliam talks about all the black musicians that loved to come to Toronto because of the more liberal views on race – yet racism still practiced at most private clubs. Golf is still elitist even today – whether financial, by gender inequality, by religious values, colour of your skin. Golf still is not a fully accessible sport – even though many like me would like to think it is.

Curtis Gillespie – in May’s Score magazine – took a very direct look at the racial issues in golf. It pointed out the lack of inclusion still prominent in the game. Look at the key positions at most clubs – from golf pros, to architects, to golf superintendents, to clubhouse managers - they are generally all white and male. This game has a long way to go – and if we truly want to grow the game – since minorities are key to the future of golf.

The Geoff Shackelford.com Award – Going for the Green

You may not like him - you may disagree with his opinions – but Robert Thompson’s Going for the Green has emerged as one of the best places to find out what is going on in Canadian golf. He is very strongly opinionated, insightful, well connected and very well read – and he makes for an entertaining read on most days. He has become a lightening rod for controvesy - since he often refuses to pull his punches. He reminds me of Howard Stern – where those who like him read him when they can – and those who dislike him read him every day to find out what he said next.

Best Architectural Quote I read all year – Robert Thompson

“I called it “inoffensive architecture,” a term aimed at describing a course where the architect has taken so few risks that really there’s nothing wrong with it, but there’s also not a single factor that distinguishes it.”

and one from the home of golf...

“But Councillor Alastair Ross said the council must play “hardball” with the Trump Organisation and refuse the application.“It is an economic investment – it is property speculation,” he said.“We are open for business but we have to do business that is good for Aberdeenshire – not at any price.”

The Donald was pushing hard to build a massive housing development – oh and a links course with waterfalls. He even went as far as to drop Tommy Fazio II and reduce the waterfall quotient to bring in Martin Hawtree to save the day - but he could never hide the fact that this was an aggressive land development project. So the canny Scot’s told him to go get stuffed.

12 comments:

Robert Thompson said...

You're making me blush.

Anonymous said...

LATEST: U.S. property tycoon DONALD TRUMP has moved closer to securing his luxury golf resort in Scotland - after the country's first minister stepped in to save the project.
The Apprentice star had hoped to built "the best golf course in the world" in Aberdeenshire, which would house an eight storey five-star hotel, two championship golf courses and 950 timeshare holiday apartments - but the proposal was rejected by Aberdeenshire Council on environmental grounds.
On Tuesday (04Dec07), it was reported Trump was in talks to secure a plot in Northern Ireland for the $1 billion (£500 million) development, but Scotland's Alex Salmon has invoked rarely-used powers to take control of Trump's application.
The Scottish executive has taken over from Aberdeenshire council under the 1997 Towns and Country Planning Act, as the case "raises issues of importance that require consideration at a national level." Neil Hobday, Trump's project director, confirmed the businessman was "impressed" by the body's intervention in the case.
Salmon, who heads the executive, was reported to be furious when Trump's proposal was rejected last week (ends02Dec07).

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