A Weekend At The RBC Canadian Open


The RBC Canadian Open was held at Royal Montreal’s Blue course last week, and provided a riveting back-nine comeback for Tim Clark over Jim Furyk.

I had never attended a professional golf event in my life. So when I had a chance to attend the Canadian Open, I jumped at the chance. The fact that I would get to follow around my wife’s uncle who is a caddie on tour added some intrigue to it.

I was at both days on the weekend and from the start to the finish, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed myself.

I have golfed before. Nowhere as fancy at Royal Montreal set up for a PGA Tour event, but I knew my way around a golf course. I found the overall experience to be like following the other players in your foursome, only without the need to get frustrated at your own poor play.

My uncle’s golfer had a tee-time midway through the morning. So when we got there after only a few groups got underway, we walked from the entrance at the 16th hole, almost got lost on our way to the first hole. From there, we watched some people tee-off, other golfers warm up as they went from the putting green to chipping to the driving range and back to putting before teeing off.

The biggest following before we started walking the course was the group of Ernie Els and Stewart Cink. Our group was the next one and you could see the throngs of people following them when our group was maybe 10 at its highest but dropped to as low as five at some points.

And that’s what surprised me. There are so many ways to watch golf. You could stay at one hole, you could follow a group or you could do a mix of both. The result is that if you’re not a big name or in the hunt for the lead, you could be playing a round practically by yourself. In fact, my uncle was probably responsible for 80-90 per cent of the people following us around. That’s what happens when you come home for a tournament.

You can also get pretty close to the players. There are sections roped off, obviously, but if the hole location or the drive is placed just right, you can practically reach out and touch the golfer. Only don’t do that. You’d probably get kicked out.

What I liked was hearing the roars of the crowds. You don’t always know who it is or what hole they are at, but there are leaderboards that keep you updated on the major holes and also people walking around carrying manual scoreboards letting you know what group is playing. It’s really well done and I caught myself trying to grab a peek to see who was playing well on the day.

Jul 27, 2014; Ile Bizard, Quebec, CAN; The leader board during the Final round of the RBC Canadian Open at Royal Montreal GC – Blue Course. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday was a fun day. There was rain as I left the house, and play was delayed about 20 minutes from when it was originally scheduled. They also put players teeing off on holes 1 and 10 in groups of three. It meant the practice areas were busier.

Going to my point about intimacy. While waiting for my party who went to the bathroom, Mike Weir just walked by in the public area. No one even stopped him except for one really happy woman who got an autograph. Just up ahead was Brandt Snedeker in the same area. In no other sporting event I have ever attended were the competitors so close to the public. It was a nice vibe.

Right after my uncle’s golfer putted in at 18, the rains opened up. Fast. A siren sounded to let everyone know that play was delayed. Then, a rush of golf carts raced out to pick up stranded golfers around the course. That, like everything else, was so organized.

My first golfing experience was a positive one. I really enjoyed following around a group for two days, and could easily see the allure of waiting for every group to come through a hole as well. Sitting at 18 or at 17 with a view of the last three holes would be great especially with the drama that unfolded.

Montreal represented itself well, and the tournament finished even earlier than it would have if the weather was nice. I hope it comes back soon because the experience was one I’d want to relive again.