This week's RBC Canadian Open at Glen Abbey will make an homage to the national pastime by way of a hockey-themed par-3 7th hole. But the man behind the fun new idea is even more unconventional than his brainchild.
Brent McLaughlin is the tournament director for the both the PGA Tour's RBC Canadian Open and the LPGA's Canadian Pacific Women’s Open, and he's quite the eccentric figure. According to a lengthy profile by Curtis Rush of the New York Times, McLaughlin is a tattooed motorcycle enthusiast, who wastes little time or money on formal golf attire. In addition to his interest in biking, he's also an avid outdoorsman and traveled as a roadie for the Barenaked Ladies in the early 1990s.
By the mid 90s, McLaughlin was working at Glen Abbey, host of this week's tournament. Starting as a shuttle driver, he worked his way up to become a range picker, a starter, and a finally a club pro. Eventually, McLaughlin helped run tournaments for Golf Canada, who promoted him to tournament director for the two Opens in 2015.
McLaughlin is committed to growing the game beyond its stuffy past and is unafraid to push boundaries, hence his wild idea for the 7th hole, which includes hockey boards lining the hole, marshals dressed as referees and a Zamboni. His ultimate plan, according to the Times's profile, is "to turn the Canadian Open into a party."
The 7th-hole makeover was inspired by the wildly popular par-3 16th hole at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, golf's ultimate alcohol-fueled party. "As soon as that shot is hit, I’d love this rink to become just as rowdy as the 16th hole at the Waste Management Phoenix Open,", McLaughlin told the Times.
It's a fun idea, and McLaughlin deserves credit for blazing his own trail. Let's see if a new party starts this week.