Commissionaires Open at Ottawa’s Eagle Creek features future PGA stars

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It might fly under the radar a bit, but several of the world’s best up-and-coming golfers will be in Ottawa to tee it up in late July.

Spoiler Alert: You won’t see Scottie Scheffler or Rory McIlroy or Jon Rahm or old-school Tiger Woods. But there’ll be plenty of talented golfers at the Commissionaires Open July 25-28 at Dunrobin’s terrific Eagle Creek Golf Club.

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History shows we’ll get an up-close look at guys you can bet will soon be winning golf tournaments at the highest level.

The Commissionaires Open, a PGA Tour Americas event, has graduated guys like Mackenzie Hughes and Tony Finau (2015), and Jake Knapp (2022) to the PGA Tour. Ninety-five players have moved up, combining for 34 wins.

“To be a PGA Tour entity obviously means you’re going to get extremely high-quality golf,” Commissionaires Open tournament director Andy Rajhathy explained. “A lot of people compare the Korn Ferry tour and PGA Tour Americas to the (American Hockey League), but here’s why it’s different: You have 32 teams in the (National Hockey League). And then, at your next level, you have another 32 teams — that’s a lot of players.

“In golf, you only have about 200 members on each tour. We have some players ranked in the top 1,000 coming to Ottawa to play. The difference between the players you see on TV and the players coming to this event is very, very minimal.

“There are players that really put their ground work in on this tour and it enabled them to get into the habits a PGA Tour professional needs. There will continue to be success stories. That’s the way this PGA Tour ecosystem is built. It’s not a maybe that some of these golfers will be on the PGA Tour, it is a guarantee they will be on the PGA Tour and it’s a guarantee many of them will have success.

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“This is a breeding ground for the PGA Tour’s next biggest stars, you get to see them up close and personal in a way that you might not ever be able to see them again.”

The 72-hole tournament, which has a pro-am leading into it, is run by ClubEG, which offers year-round social and competitive events, along with trips to golf destinations. Rajhathy is the vice-president of ClubEG, which puts on a couple of major events — the Ottawa Sun Scramble and Ottawa Citizen championship — each summer. 

The Commissionaires Open is held in support of Soldier On, a Canadian Armed Forces program committed to supporting veterans and serving members to adapt and overcome permanent physical or mental health challenges. Commissionaires is Canada’s largest, private-sector employer of veterans and Canada’s only national, not-for-profit security organization. 

It’s the second year of a three-year arrangement to hold the tournament in Ottawa.

“It’s to be a tournament that’s inclusive and multi-cultural,” Rajhathy said. “We will see more than 16 countries represented through the 156 players that are coming to Ottawa, so we want to show community support for all players, but at the same time, really showcase what Ottawa is all about.

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“We’re intending to have a lot of the embassies present with either food samplings or arts and crafts from their communities. That’ll be a really neat aspect, to confirm the identity we’re trying to portray as a tournament.”

Rajhathy expects an even more fan-friendly event this time, with some additions that will add to the experience.

“What I learned is that the sky’s the limit,” he said. “One of our goals is to get as many people on site as possible. The reality is you can’t have too many spectators — you’re on a 200-acre piece of property so there’s lots of room for everybody to get out and enjoy the experience. And there will be ample parking this year.

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“What we’re trying to encourage is an upgrade to the VIP tickets. This gets you access to a beautiful hospitality suite between the ninth and 18th greens. We’re adding hospitality suites in between the tee decks of two and 11. For those who don’t know, No. 2 is an amazing Par 5 where you’re going to see players hit driver on a very interesting, reachable hole.

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“If you look to the left, you’re watching them play the par 3 11th hole — last year, there were two hole-in-ones there. What I like about this hospitality suite is you can hear the players and caddies interacting on the tee deck.

“As the tournament grows, we want to build in more and more of an experience, provide different options for people to take in not only the golf, but the closer-up behind-the-scenes type of interactions between the players and their caddies.”

Stuart Macdonald won the Commissionaires Ottawa Open, which wrapped up Sunday at Eagle Creek Golf Club.
Stuart Macdonald won the Commissionaires Ottawa Open, which wrapped up Sunday at Eagle Creek Golf Club. Photo by HANDOUT PHOTO /PGA TOUR OF CANADA

The Commissionaires Open, won last year by Stuart Macdonald, will be the 11th event on the PGA Tour Americas schedule, the fifth on the North American swing. There are 16 events played in seven countries (there are events in seven Canadian provinces). The event is part of the season-long Fortinet Cup points raise which mimics the FedEx Cup. The Top 10 players at the end of the year will earn a Korn Ferry Tour card.

For more info on the tournament, tickets, sponsorships and being a volunteer, go to ottawagolf.golf.

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