The Canadian Tour is adding a new tournament in 2012 that will help restore its presence in Ontario, where it has lost two events during the past two years.
The Great Waterway Classic was unveiled Thursday afternoon at a news conference in Gananoque, Ont.
The tour, local organizers and sponsors have committed to running the event for at least four years, with a different course in Eastern Ontario used each year. Smuggler’s Glen Golf Course in Gananoque will play host to the event this year from September 6-9 with Upper Canada Golf Course in Morrisburg (2013), Loyalist Golf and Country Club in Bath (2014) and Black Bear Ridge Golf Course in Belleville (2015) rounding out the rotation.
The tournament’s purse will be $150,000, which is typical for the developmental circuit that has launched the careers of such stars as Mike Weir, Steve Stricker and, more recently, Adam Hadwin.
The event’s addition to the 2012 schedule will give the 40-year-old tour at least two stops in Ontario. The other is its flagship event, the Canadian Tour Championship in Windsor.
The circuit lost the Seaforth Country Classic and the Jane Rogers Championship, both in Southwestern Ontario, in 2011 and 2010, respectively.
“It’s great for us to kick our year off on a good note,” said Scott Pritchard, the tour’s director of business development and communications.
The tour struggled last year, losing money and teetering on the edge of existence until it received an operating loan from the PGA Tour last December.
It has largely abandoned the international tournaments it once staged in such countries as Colombia and Mexico and has renewed its focus on domestic events. It had eight on home soil last year – six of which were west of Ontario – and hopes to have between eight and 11 in total this year.
Like the CFL, the tour is robust in the West but inconsistent in creating much buzz in the East. The tour once had a Montreal event but lost it in 2009 when sponsorship dried up.
The tour hopes to announce other new tournaments later. Its schedule is to be released next week.
“Anywhere east of Winnipeg has been our focal point,” Pritchard said Wednesday. “To get Kingston [Eastern Ontario]is a great addition.”
The tour has been exploring tournament opportunities throughout Eastern Canada, including Ottawa, Quebec, Newfoundland and the Maritime provinces. There’s room in the Canadian golf season for 15 or 16 weeks of tournaments.
The Eastern Ontario event has been in the works behind the scenes since last spring and came about with the help of Evolution Golf and Event Management Inc., whose director of tournament development, David Dargie, will serve as tournament director.
Like almost all tournaments in professional tour golf, the new Canadian Tour event will raise money for charity. The target is $50,000 and the beneficiary will be the University Hospitals Kingston Foundation.