Top amateur grooms junior golfers

Here’s a trivia question that shouldn’t be a trivia question because we should all know the answer: Who is the best Canadian golfer who never turned pro?

Think of golfers who have played the majority of their competitions since 1950.

Nick Weslock?
Some of you might say Nick Weslock, who won four Canadian Amateurs, all kinds of provincial championships and Opens, wrote a concise instructional book called The Golf Bag Pro, befriended the brilliantly unusual Moe Norman, and who, in his mid-80s, still plays to around a four-handicap.

I say, as amazing as Nick the Wedge has been, he’s still not the answer to the trivia question that’s been posed.

Ed Ervasti?
Okay, then, how about Ed Ervasti, who is even older than Weslock. Technically speaking, Ervasti, who lives in London, Ontario, isn’t a Canadian. He was born in Michigan, but he’s lived most of his life in Canada. Everybody thinks of him as a Canuck, so we’ll go with that.

He won the 1949 Michigan Amateur, and has won six Canadian Seniors Golf Association championships. Ervasti won a tournament the London Hunt and Country Club, where he plays, when he was5. He shot 75-72-63. Really.

But Ervasti isn’t the answer to the trivia question that’s been posed. This is a column, after all. I get to offer my opinion, and anticipate that not everybody will agree with me.

Doug Roxburgh
Ladies and gentlemen, the answer is: Doug Roxburgh. Surely you know this tremendous golfer who lives in Vancouver, will hit 50 years on December 28th, and has won 13-count ’em-13 B.C. Amateurs and four Canadian Amateurs. He won the 1970 Canadian Junior.

Roxy, as he’s known, has represented Canada at 11 international competitions, including seven World Amateur Team Championships.

Roxburgh accomplished most of this while working as an accountant and, along with his wife Lorna, raising their two sons Geordie and James. He did so well and was so well thought of-still is-that he was elected and inducted into the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame in 1990.

Uses skills
Roxburgh got into the golf business a few years ago, in British Columbia. He worked for a golf club and a company that was developing driving ranges.

Two years ago an opportunity came his way that would enable him to use his considerable organizational and leadership skills, and to work with young golfers.

Roxburgh accepted the Royal Canadian Golf Association’s invitation to direct its first National Player Development Program. That was in 1999, and already the program is showing promise.

Junior tournament
A Canadian team of six young amateurs, for instance, won the Four Nations Team Championship at the Lambton Golf and Country Club in early August.

The biennial event brings together golfers from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. Australia had won the competition seven of the eight times it had been played, but this time Canada won, and decisively. Roxburgh was pleased, to say the least.

“They’re all like pros,” Roxburgh said after the impressive Canadian win. “All you have to do is turn them loose.”

Canadian juniors
Well, not quite. Roxburgh and Henry Brunton, the player development coach, presented the team with a game plan for the course. The golfers stuck to it, believed in themselves, and walked away with the win.

“This is a start. There’s a whole lot more to do,” Roxburgh said. “Canadian juniors will only get better.”

Right for role
That prospect obviously interests Roxburgh in his new role. The Royal Canadian Golf Association, in its commitment to support golfers across the country, has picked the right man for the job.

Here’s a man who started out in golf as a caddy at the Marine Drive club in Vancouver, where his father belonged. Roxburgh still belongs there. He took his early instruction at Marine Drive, so knows the value of getting the fundamentals down when one is young.

Marine Drive had a superb junior program, which perhaps accounts for Roxburgh’s success and also for that of other kids who went on to success in the wider world of golf.

Marine Drive players
Jim Nelford and Richard Zokol won Canadian Amateurs and made it to the PGA Tour. Roxburgh made the junior team at Marine Drive, a significant achievement considering the quality of talent there, and won the Vancouver City Championship when he was 15 years old. He also made it on to the B.C. Junior team that year.

How well have other players thought of Roxburgh? Zokol referred to him as his idol. Nelford said he is “some kind of golfer.” He’s also some kind of leader at the National Player Development Program. The golfers in the program know that Roxburgh has been one of Canada’s top amateurs for years, and that he’s maintained his form in middle age.

He is, it says here, the best Canadian amateur of the modern day who has chosen to remain an amateur. Roxburgh’s record is excellent, and the respect other golfers give him day after day says it all about his reputation as a golfer’s golfer.