For an old school PGA Tour guy like me, the RBC Canadian Open, sadly, is one of those golf tournaments that used to have a little more prestige than it does currently, like the old “Crosby Clambake” at Pebble Beach or the Western Open in Chicago. Much of it’s lustre has been lost due to it’s being sandwiched in the “Bermuda Triangle” of golf: the week AFTER The British Open, the week BEFORE the WGC/Bridgestone, and two weeks BEFORE The PGA Championship. Jet lagged players looking for a week off from three “elite” tournaments have begun to skip this event, sadly.

The Canadian Open is the PGA Tour’s second oldest tournament, celebrating it’s 100th competition this week, and it’s past winners vary from Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Arnold Palmer to Greg Norman, Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk.

For many years, the Canadian Open was played like the US Open, making it’s rounds across Canada, playing at cut from the forest venues like Rosedale, Mississauga, and Thornhill, and in French speaking only courses in Quebec such as Le Club Laval-sur-lac, Richelieu, and Montreal Municipal, where, in 1967, Billy Casper won the first Open contested on a public golf course (and we thought Bethpage was being innovative!)

Unfortunately, while allowing the entire country to see the event, many times it was contested in areas incapable of drawing or handling large crowds. So, in 1977, the Canadian Open decided the time was right to find a semi-permanent home for their most prestigious event.

The RCGA (Royal Canadian Golf Association) and the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame commissioned Jack Nicklaus to design a course (Glen Abbey) with it’s proximity to Toronto, Canada’s largest city, to become not only the centerpiece for their respective organizations as a testament to golf in Canada, a la the PGA Tour’s home at Sawgrass/TPC at Ponte Vedra, but to act as almost an annual host to the Canadian Open.

Glen Abbey has done just that. Since opening and hosting it’s initial Canadian Open in 1977 (won by Lee Trevino), the Canadian Open has returned an additional 24 times, including last year, when Austrailia’s Nathan Green won by beating South Africa’s Retief Goosen in a playoff.

This year’s event is being held at St. George’s, a Stanley Thompson design that opened in 1929 near Toronto, and has hosted the Canadian Open on four previous occasions, the last being in 1968, when New Zealander Bob Charles came away with the win. This year, it will play to 7,046 yards and a Par 70.

While many of the very top players in the world are skipping this event, there are still plenty of world-class players entered in the field, including Canadian “favourite” Mike Weir, who is trying to follow in the footsteps of the 2010 Canadian Olympic Men’s hockey team and win in their home country. Let’s hope that the less than spectacular “3 star” field allows for some great shotmaking, on what should be a beautiful venue for summertime golf.

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