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Here’s why the RBC Canadian Open is a fixture in Ontario


The site for the 2025 RBC Canadian Open has been selected and TPC Toronto at Osprey Valley’s North Course will play host to the national championship.

This news didn’t come as surprise as word had leaked out months ago inside the Canadian golf community. The course underwent a significant renovation in 2023 to get it prepared to host a tournament such as the RBC Canadian Open. Architect Ian Andrew altered green complexes, moved bunkers and brought more hazards into play on the course originally designed by Doug Carrick back in 1992.

With the announcement came a flurry of compliments, but also a slew of complaints and questions from Canadian golfers, many of them having been asked year after year. The most frequently posted of those is: Why is the tournament always held in Ontario?

The last time the Open was not held at an Ontario course was in 2014 when Royal Montreal played host. Prior to that, it was 2011 at Shaughnessy in Vancouver.

Golf Canada lost money at both those tournaments, and it can’t afford to do that and continue funding many of the other programs it runs. Profits from the RBC Canadian Open help fund, among other things, amateur championships, grassroots development and the national team program that has helped produce the likes of Corey Conners and Brooke Henderson.

“Very simply, taking the tournament outside of the [Golden Horseshoe] area is expensive,” stated Bryan Crawford, the tournament director. “There are a lot of additional expenses that come with moving it to somewhere like Vancouver that really make it tough to justify.”

Those costs range from shipping materials for building the infrastructure required for the tournament to travel costs for staff. And it’s not an insignificant amount. Crawford said an Open outside the Southwestern Ontario region would add an additional $3 million in expenses.

“It’s like picking up your stadium and moving it from one part of the country to the other,” Crawford said.

Some point to the fact that Golf Canada hosted a very successful CPKC Women’s Open in Vancouver last year. But CPKC paid a premium to be able to have the event on the West Coast and, as a shipping company, it was able to move the necessary equipment efficiently. It will do the same this year in Calgary. While the tournament is growing in stature, the women’s championship doesn’t have as large a footprint as the men’s and moving from one location to the next is not as costly.

While costs are one major reason for not moving, so is the revenue. The base of corporate Canada is in the Toronto area, and that’s where most sponsorship money – both big and small – comes from. Golf Canada has done a tremendous job in signing corporate sponsors as well as partners who purchase ticket packages to host clients at the Open.

“A huge chunk of those are multi-year clients,” Crawford said of the 400 corporate partners. “We could run the risk of losing those if we were not established in one place.”

In many ways, the governing body is a victim of its success. This year saw a 20 per cent increase in corporate sales over last year, and last year had a similar growth over the previous year. More sales means more locations needed on course and more room on which to build it.

Another factor that rules out some courses is weather. With the tournament moving earlier on the calendar (this year’s event marks the first time the championship has been in May), it can be risky to go to locations where the course conditions might not yet be up to standards due to late or cool (or even cold) springs.

It’s too much of a risk to go to a location such as Calgary or Winnipeg when the early season weather is unpredictable.

A frequent complaint seen on social media is that the RBC Canadian Open doesn’t take advantage of some of Canada’s great golf courses. Why, for instance, is the championship played at Cabot Cliffs and Cabot Links?

Canada is blessed with lots of good courses and those are easily two of best, always at or near the top of SCOREGolf’s top 100 course ranking. But that doesn’t make them suitable for hosting a PGA Tour event. First off, they aren’t long enough by today’s standards. Cabot Links is 6,854 yards and the Cliffs is 6,764. That would make them the shortest courses on the PGA Tour.

The bigger reason is there’s not a big enough fan base to draw from. The population of Cape Breton is 93,000. Nova Scotia is right around 1 million. You likely wouldn’t sell enough tickets to break even, and that’s not even bringing corporate sponsorship into the equation.

Also, where would everyone stay? Not just the players but the large number of officials and employees who travel every week with the PGA Tour. The infrastructure simply couldn’t handle it.

What about other classic courses in the big cities?

There are some tremendous courses in Canadian cities but most of these simply don’t have enough room for the travelling circus that is the PGA Tour. In most cases, the problems are lack of space for a television compound, corporate stands, vendor locations for food and merchandise, a suitable range and multiple access points.

St. George’s Golf and Country Club, for example, had to shuttle players down the road to Islington Golf Club when it hosted the event. It worked, but it was quite an ordeal to operate.

This is in many ways a tribute to the growth of the tournament, which has sold more corporate sponsorships in each of the last three years and as a result had a larger and larger build-out.

It also means that courses under consideration usually need extra holes or lots of extra space.

So, where will it go in the future?

That’s a good question. There are only a small number of courses in Canada that right now could meet all the requirements to host the Open. Some of those don’t even want to have the tournament. Remember, members give up their course for up to two weeks for the Open, and in a season that for many is already too short, that’s a significant amount of playing time. Even when the courses are open, there is non-stop construction of stands and other facilities both before and after the tournament. For many members, it’s not ideal.

Crawford remains hopeful that some high-profile clubs in the Toronto area will consider hosting the national championship. A return to St. George’s and Oakdale would be welcome, and the possibility of an RBC Canadian Open at Toronto Golf on his wish list.

For now, Hamilton Golf and Country Club is the focus. It’s almost a perfect course to host the event, with extra room to build facilities, a suitable driving range on site, easy access to the property and an area that can handle an influx of out-of-towners.

TPC Toronto at Osprey Valley has most of that, except for the nearby accommodations. Golf Canada will buy out Hockley Valley and Millcroft resorts, which will provide up to 200 rooms, and home rentals through such sites as Air B&B are expected to be busy.

In truth, every site requires some concessions. None are perfect but Golf Canada almost always finds a way to make it work.