Laurence Applebaum has been the chief executive officer of Golf Canada for fewer than two years, but already he has a big vision for where the organization is going. Literally.
Mr. Applebaum says “earnest” planning is under way to move Golf Canada’s rented office from its current location on the property of Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ont.
Glen Abbey owner ClubLink has proposed closing the course and transforming the property into a mixed-used development containing residential, office, retail and parkland components. The town of Oakville is fighting back. The legal limbo has prompted Golf Canada to search for new digs.
“ClubLink is going through a process at their own cadence and pace with the city, and we want to let them do their thing,” says Mr. Applebaum. “Our mandate, our outlook is to find a home for Golf Canada.”
The governing body, formally known as the Royal Canadian Golf Association, was founded in 1895. As part of its 125th anniversary in 2020, Mr. Applebaum says he wants to “celebrate the next 125 years and have some permanence to a future home.”
Mr. Applebaum has looked at developments by the United States Golf Association (“They’ve built a really beautiful working, living steward of golf space”) and the PGA Tour (“What the PGA Tour has done is really interesting for Golf Canada”) as potential blueprints for his organization moving forward.
While Golf Canada is not as economically flush as either of those organizations, nor as big at about 60 employees, Mr. Applebaum is keeping an eye on their general concepts.
He says Golf Canada won’t be moving from the Greater Toronto Area. He says he has visited several sites and has had discussions – led by chief financial officer Garrett Ball – with a number of cities and towns.
Mr. Applebaum says TPC Toronto at Osprey Valley – a 54-hole layout in Caledon that joined, in 2018, the PGA Tour’s Tournament Players Club worldwide network of courses – was one of his stops.
“We’re very impressed with the development of TPC Toronto and we continue to have engaged discussions with how Golf Canada can be involved with them,” he says.
For now, though, Golf Canada and its management team are focused on the crown jewel of its tournament calendar – the PGA Tour’s RBC Canadian Open, to be held next month at Hamilton Golf and Country Club in Ancaster, Ont. But Mr. Applebaum says office move discussions will continue and he’s already got an idea of what he’s looking for as a replacement for its 35,000 square feet of total space at Glen Abbey.
“What we want is a progressive workspace that really is how our organization is moving forward,” he says. “It’ll be modern and progressive but feel a connection to the history of golf and part of golf in the past and the future.”