Hamilton is making a bid to become the new golf capital of Canada now that the owners of the Glen Abbey golf course in Oakville have said they want to redevelop the land. 

But the city's head of public works says Hamilton has some work to do to get its King's Forest Golf Course up to par for that.

The city will approach Golf Canada, currently located at the famous Glen Abbey golf course, to see if it would like to relocate to King's Forest Golf Course, and ask about hosting the Canadian Open.

'This is an opportune time to take advantage of Oakville's loss, which will be Hamilton's gain.' - Coun. Sam Merulla

Sam Merulla, Ward 4 councillor, believes the move would be an economic and tourism driver for the city.

"This is an opportune time to take advantage of Oakville's loss, which will be Hamilton's gain," Merulla said at a city council meeting on Wednesday. He and other councillors voted to spend up to $50,000 to look at the possibilities.

But Gerry Davis, general manager of public works, said King's Forest would need extensive renovations. That includes upgrading the club house and adding a driving range.

"It will be a significant number for the city to look at," he said of potential costs.

Terry Whitehead, Ward 8 councillor, supported Merulla's move.

"We start the dialogue," he said. "It may work out. It may not. But for us not to initiate a dialogue, a discussion… we wouldn't be doing our job."

In October, Glen Abbey owner ClubLink Corp. filed preliminary paperwork to convert the Oakville club into a residential community of 3,000 homes, along with offices and retail space.

'It's a land mass issue, and of course, the capital dollars.' - Coun. Lloyd Ferguson

Glen Abbey has held the Canadian Open 27 times, including in 2015. Hamilton has hosted it at Hamilton Golf and Country Club three times — in 2003, 2006 and 2012, Merulla said.

If Hamilton does make a successful bid for Golf Canada, and to more regularly host the tournament, it has some time to prepare. Glen Abbey will be a playable golf course for another five to 10 years, Scott Simmons, Golf Canada CEO, told CBC News in November.

Lloyd Ferguson, an Ancaster councillor, wondered if King's Forest is big enough to host the Canadian Open, which draws about 25,000 spectators.

"It's a land mass issue, and of course, the capital dollars," he said.

But city council unanimously voted in favour of hiring an "outside agent" to investigate what's required to host the Canadian Open, and to have staff reach out to Golf Canada. 

This isn't Merulla's only attempt lately to lure a major sporting event. In September, council agreed with him to ask for Hamilton to host a Grey Cup.


  • An earlier version of this story said the Glen Abbey will become a residential development. This story has been updated to reflect the fact that though the Glen Abbey owners have announced their intention to redevelop the land and have filed preliminary paperwork, the company has not filed an official proposal for city consideration, according to Oakville Mayor Rob Burton.
    Mar 25, 2016 11:15 AM ET