The Nova Scotia Open and the Canada Cup, which put Halifax and the province on the international golf scene in 2014, will return to the New Ashburn Golf Course in Windsor Junction for the second straight year.
The Nova Scotia Open, the only Canadian event on the 25-stop Web.com tour, will feature 156 golfers in 72 holes of stroke play July 2 to 5. Prize money will total $650,000. The Open is important for the 50 Web.com Tour and PGA Tour players trying to earn a PGA card for the 2015–2016 season. A pro-am event precedes the tournament on June 30.
The 2014 tournament was a career highlight for Canadian Roger Sloan who won the event, his first on the Web.com Tour, beating American Derek Fathauer in a sudden-death playoff. Sloan, who graduated to the PGA Tour last season, says winning the Nova Scotia Open was a turning point in his career. It gave him the opportunity to finish the year in the top 25 on the money list and earn his PGA card. “It was the start of a dream come true,” he says in a phone interview.
Sloan’s PGA schedule won’t let him return to defend the title this year, but he fondly recalls the course. “Ashburn was great,” he says. Even though some players say the course was relatively short, Sloan praises the green structure, which allowed for some difficult pin placements. He believes it’s one of the best events on the Web.com Tour. “I think in next few years that tournament is going to be bigger and better than people had hoped for,” Sloan adds.
The Canada Cup on July 6 will be the highlight for most fans. The international event, which will have a 9-hole pro-am prior to the team event, pits Team Canada’s PGA professionals Mike Weir, Graham DeLaet, David Hearn and Web.com player against golf legend Tom Watson and his Team World, including Americans Colt Knost of Garrettsville, Ohio and Andres Gonzales of Olympia, Washington. Both are Web.com alumni, now playing on the PGA tour. (Editor’s note: Fred Couples was Team World’s original captain, but had to withdraw in June due to a back injury. This story has been updated to reflect the change.)
Although he’s a Saskatchewan native, the Nova Scotia Open has special meaning for Team Canada’s Graham DeLaet. “Mike, David and I had a great experience last year and the fans were incredible,” DeLaet says. “I look forward to returning this summer to bring the title back home.”
The Graham and Ruby DeLaet Foundation will be the official charitable partner of the 2015 Nova Scotia Open, with The Children’s Wish Foundation—Nova Scotia Chapter, as the local charitable partner and beneficiary. Graham and Ruby DeLaet launched the Foundation in 2014 to support children’s health and the development of junior golfers. “Golf is a great platform to grow awareness of children’s health and help pave the way for children to build life skills,” says Ruby DeLaet. Last year the event raised $64,000 for the QEII Foundation, Feed Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame.
“I would say of all the events that I have done as manager of the club this was the most positive as far as the membership response,” says Gordie Smith, Ashburn’s general manager. (And last year, tournament caddy.)
After last year’s event, Smith and fellow organizers have learned some lessons. This year, the Canada Cup will precede the Nova Scotia Open.
“On the logistics side we will be changing the spectator village,” Smith says. “The parking lot just didn’t work very well so we have a plan to move it to the right side of the driving range and we will add some more concessions. We heard from some spectators that there were not enough concessions so we will add a few and offer something different.”
Once again, all four rounds of the Nova Scotia Open will be televised on the Golf Channel, reaching 81 million households in the United States and is made available to 192 countries and a potential 93 million international households via broadcast partners. The event will also receive exposure within the weekend’s coverage of the PGA Tour and Champions Tour.
Smith praises the Golf Channel for its “outstanding” television coverage. “Not only did Ashburn look great but I thought the city’s and the province’s ads were outstanding,” he says. “I know Golf Channel was really impressed with all of the [tourism] material, all the clips and photos and video work.”
Over 25,000 spectators attended the inaugural Nova Scotia Open and Canada Cup. The event, which got $300,000 in funding from the province in 2014 and will get another $300,000 this year, brought the host region an estimated $4 million in net economic activity along with 3.8 million viewers that tuned into the Golf Channel’s four-day coverage.
“Major events are one way we can attract new visitors to the province,” says Sonya Horsburgh, communications director with Communications Nova Scotia.