OAKVILLE, Ontario, Canada -- On the Tuesday before the 2017 RBC Canadian Open, two new inductees into the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame were introduced during the tournament's opening ceremony: legendary clubmaker Bob Vokey and distinguished women's amateur Judy Darling-Evans.
The ceremony, which officially opened the tournament, had a flyover of vintage World War I and World War II aircraft, part of the celebrations surrounding Canada's 150th anniversary.
Several CGHF members were on hand for the ceremony, most notably Glen Abbey Golf Club designer Jack Nicklaus, 2003 Masters champion Mike Weir, multiple Canadian Women's Amateur winner Marlene Streit, Canadian golf writer Lorne Rubenstein, as well Canadian-born LPGA Tour winners Sandra Post and Lorie Kane.
Tournament host Glen Abbey was commissioned by former Golf Canada President Dick Grimm, with the design job given to Jack Nicklaus to create what he hoped would be a permanent home for the Canadian Open. It opened for play in 1976 and has, effectively, become the tournament’s permanent host, though that status is in doubt as Glen Abbey's ownership has produced a plan to redevelop the land into a housing community.
The area in which the golf course is located is some of the most valuable in the greater Toronto, and the sale of the land could net the owners a huge sum. Another area facility, York Downs, sold for CDN $412 million in 2015. Glen Abbey could net in upwards of $500 million, depending on which plan would be approved by the city council. If the plan goes ahead to redevelop the property, it is currently unclear how much, if any, of the proceeds will be invested to design and build another PGA Tour-caliber course in the region.
During the ceremony, Mr. Nicklaus was presented with a personalized hockey jersey emblazoned with Golf Canada logo. Then Nicklaus took part in some pre-tournament festivities which celebrate Canada’s favorite sport, hockey. Glen Abbey’s par-3 seventh hole was partially set up with a hockey rink enclosure, complete with referee uniformed volunteers. A regulation size hockey net was also stationed near the tee. After the opening ceremony had concluded, Mr. Nicklaus put on the Golf Canada hockey jersey and took several shots at the goal.
This year's tournament is the first one under the direction of newly appointed Golf Canada CEO Laurence Applebaum. The new CEO faces several challenges, including possibly finding a new home for the national championship.