By Mike Jiggens
It's always a feather in the cap of a golf course superintendent to successfully host a major tournament, whether it’s on the PGA, LPGA, Champions or web.com tours. Even a provincial or national amateur championship is a big deal.
As far as golf in Canada goes, though, there is none bigger than the RBC Canadian Open unless, of course, the country is host to a President’s Cup championship as it was a short while ago at Royal Montreal.
The PGA Tour is golf’s biggest stage, and the Canadian Open is its only stop in Canada. Very few Canadian superintendents can lay claim to hosting an Open, and those who have done so have special bragging rights.
The man in the spotlight again this summer is Andrew Gyba, superintendent at Oakville, Ont.’s Glen Abbey Golf Club. This year marks his second time as Open superintendent, having made his debut in 2013.
On the surface, being the host superintendent for a Canadian Open would seem like a monumental task. The PGA Tour has certain agronomic expectations that tend to differ from what it normally expected at the host course. Greens will be cut that much shorter and rolled more often to produce speedier-than-normal surfaces, and rough will be left to grow out by another inch or so.
Every square inch of turf must be in pristine condition, whether it’s on the greens, tees or fairways. The PGA Tour can be very demanding.
A first-time Tour event superintendent might find the task at hand somewhat intimidating the initial time, but then he’s apt to realize that what he’s doing is simply an extension of what he would do on any other day, with merely an adjustment made here or there. The days will be longer during Open week and the immediate time leading up to it because he will be on call.
Every superintendent I’ve ever spoken with who has been host at a Canadian Open or any other major tournament has emerged unscathed and with his wits intact. In fact, it’s usually an exciting time for that individual and it’s a personal thrill for them to be involved with something so special and rare.
It would be nice to see the PGA Tour have a greater presence in Canada as it did in years gone by. These days, it’s just the one event—the RBC Canadian Open—which, unfortunately, has been penciled into a bad time slot the past several years. Coming on the heels of the previous week’s Open Championship (British Open), the Canadian Open is not as attractive as it once was to many Tour players who are not enamored at the thought of having to readjust to a new time zone within days of playing in Europe.
Chances are we’ll never see the likes of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson or Rory McIlroy at the Canadian Open. These and other golfers prefer to recharge their batteries following a major tournament and, unfortunately, the Canadian Open’s timing means it’s one they’re likely to skip.
Still, there is a lot of star power among the Tour players who are sponsored by RBC, and we’re likely to see all of them in attendance.
See page 6 for Gyba’s thoughts and preparations for this year’s Open.