Canadian Open tournament director McLaughlin out

Brent McLaughlin poses with his Harley Davidson at Glen Abbey before taking over as tournament director of the Canadian Open in 2015.
Brent McLaughlin poses with his Harley Davidson at Glen Abbey before taking over as tournament director of the Canadian Open in 2015.  (Andrew Francis Wallace / Toronto Star file photo)  

Not long after Brent McLaughlin was introduced as the new tournament director of the RBC Canadian Open two years ago, McLaughlin lifted up the sleeve of his golf shirt as though offering up a confession.

“It’s a secret,” McLaughlin told a reporter.

Then, the secret was a series of tattoos that ran from shoulder to shoulder and belied his career resume as a club pro and rules official at major championships.

Now, McLaughlin’s mysterious side appears to be more than a novelty. On Friday, tournament staff were informed that McLaughlin had been removed from his position for the duration of the tournament. A Golf Canada spokesperson confirmed McLaughlin’s sidelining but declined to elaborate, insisting McLaughlin remains an employee of Golf Canada and that the circumstances amounted to a confidential human-resources matter.

“He just won’t be coming. He won’t be participating in the weekend,” said the spokesperson. “It’s probably as much his choice. But he’s not suspended.”

Bill Paul, the longtime tournament director whom McLaughlin has cited as a mentor, has been installed as McLaughlin’s temporary replacement. It’s unclear where this leaves McLaughlin when it comes to his duties as director of the CP Women’s Open, which runs next month in Ottawa.

McLaughlin, who is in his mid-40s and could not be reached for comment, spent time as a roadie for the Barenaked Ladies as a 20-something. But even as he took the helm at Canada’s national championships — a position he termed “an unbelievable job” — he played up his Harley-Davidson-riding wild side. He pointed out in a 2015 interview that he is one of a handful of golf rules officials who has worked at all three of the U.S., British and Canadian Opens in the past decade. But he insisted that, off the course, he isn’t known as a stickler.

“I’m so far from the rules in real life,” McLaughlin said with a laugh back then.

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