Canadian Tour considering a stop St. John’s

Robin Short
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Pro circuit has been here before, but that was 11 years ago

More than a decade after the Canadian Tour made St. John’s a stop on its circuit, professional golf may be poised for a return to the capital city.

“We have a number of irons in the fire,” Scott Pritchard, the director of business development for the Canadian Tour, told the Hamilton Spectator recently. “We’re looking at possible events in St. John’s, Halifax, Quebec City and Ottawa, as well as Vancouver and possibly another tournament in Alberta.”

Back in 1998, the Admiral’s Green golf course played host to the first professional golf tournament in the province’s history with the NewTel Atlantic Cup, a Ryder Cup-styled event.In 2001, the first Aliant Cup was staged at Clovelly Golf Course, a full-tournament affair won by Brian Payne, who beat fellow American Jason Bohn by one stroke.

While Payne did not enjoy much, if any, success on the PGA Tour, Bohn has gone on to win just over $9.5 million in golf’s big leagues.That 2001 tournament proved to be the final Canadian Tour event for Newfoundland.Now, there is talk of the Tour returning, but it might depend, ironically enough, on the PGA Tour.

According to reports, the PGA’s board of directors are considering taking over the struggling Canadian Tour.“We’re all excited about this,” Pritchard told the Spectator, “from staff, to tournament organizers to staff.”

Tournament operating budgets range from $350,000 to $400,000 and Newfoundland and Labrador Golf Association executive director Greg Hillier says his group does not have that kind of money in its coffers.

The NLGA had initial discussions with the Canadian Tour “about three or four months ago,” at which time Hillier said the provincial golf body indicated it had “limited resources” to support the pro tour.

“But we’re helping find corporate partners and I know the Tour is in the middle of discussions with one or two corporates in St. John’s,” Hillier said.“We do not have a lot of money,” he said of the NLGA, “but we’re supporting this plan as much as we can, utilizing whatever resources we have.“If corporate Newfoundland buys in, there is national and international television exposure that comes with it, and it no doubt heightens the profile of golf in this province.”

Organizations: Canadian Tour, Newfoundland and Labrador Golf Association, NewTel Aliant

Geographic location: Quebec City, Ottawa, Vancouver Alberta Newfoundland

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