Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

SWING Town

Winnipeg has a great reputation for hosting big golf tournaments

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It doesn't happen near enough for some but big golf tournaments are Winnipeg's thing.

The city's history of hosting competitions for on-course stars from across the country and around the world only adds to its reputation as a successful big-event town.

The next opportunity to build on that reputation is upon us: The CN Canadian Women's Open, a US$2.25 million LPGA Tour event, arrives at St. Charles Country Club next week. Preliminary and practice days are Monday through Wednesday and the 72-hole national women's championship begins on Thursday at the 106-year-old club.

This year's Open seems to follow a very loose rule that roughly every decade, Winnipeg has a "major" golf event on its schedule.

The last big-tour appearance was in 2000, when the Champions Tour brought the AT&T Canada Senior Open to St. Charles. It was played before huge crowds, thanks in part to the participation of legendary Jack Nicklaus. The title was won by Tom Jenkins.

Before that, you go back to 1992 for the LPGA Tour's then-major championship, the du Maurier Ltd. Classic. Sherri Steinhauer, who will return to St. Charles next week, scored her first career victory at Winnipeg's du Maurier.

"What often happens is when you get to the larger centres, sometimes these events get lost," said Al Macatavish, a Winnipegger and former president of the Royal Canadian Golf Association. "We had a senior pro event once in Montreal and it was on the same time as a tennis event, and tennis did better than golf.

"We do very well here in Winnipeg, a bang-up job, and that's typical of most sporting events we do because the whole community gets involved."

The events that dot Winnipeg's history and that have excited its golf fans go back nearly a century, Macatavish said.

"Going a way back, Winnipeg was a real hotbed of golf in the teens and 20s," he said. "I've know there was an event played here in 1926 which was a combination of the Manitoba Amateur, Western Canadian Amateur and had a professional part to it, too. It was played at Elmhurst, Pine Ridge and the Winnipeg Golf Club.

"There were 250 entries and that's when and how (Canadian Hall of Famer) Sandy Sommerville won the Manitoba Amateur. They just moved from one part of the tournament to the other, so you can see how our involvement with big events go way back."

National championships conducted by the RCGA (which recently re-branded itself Golf Canada) have been played in Winnipeg since the 1920s.

There have been many notable winners of those amateur competitions. On the men's side, the two most recent Canadian Amateurs held in Manitoba yielded champions Rob McMillan (1996) and Doug Roxburgh (1974), both fairly household names in Canada's golf culture.

On the women's side, Canadian icon Marlene Streit won a pair of Canadian Amateurs at Niakwa, in 1956 and 1972.

Not surprisingly though, professional golf in Winnipeg has made bigger noise over the years.

Earlier eras featured prominent professionals like Harry Vardon, Walter Hagen, Sam Snead and even Ben Hogan, who took their acts on the road frequently. There are many records of their appearances and exhibitions at Winnipeg clubs like St. Charles, Niakwa, Pine Ridge, Elmhurst and others.

And prior to the most marquee pro events, there have been many memorable contests.

The Canadian Professional Golfers Association held four of its national championships in Winnipeg over the years. The 1976 event, at St. Charles, showcased a home-grown winner, George Knudson, likely Manitoba's most renowned player.

Some might call the 1950s and 1960s the golden era of Manitoba golf, and you couldn't blame them for doing so. Canadian Opens were held in Winnipeg twice in that period.

The first was the 1952 Open in July at St. Charles, a tournament that remains relevant to this day because its winner, Johnny Palmer, set a 72-hole Canadian Open scoring record of 263 that still stands today.

In 1961, Niakwa hosted the Canadian Open. The winner there was Jacky Cupit with a score of 270.

American and international stars also showed up for another prominent event, the 1982 Peter Jackson Champions. That Senior PGA Tour event was won by Bob Goalby.

More regularly and recently, professional golfers have visited Winnipeg for the Canadian Professional Golf Tour (Canadian Tour).

It dates back to 1970 as the Peter Jackson Tour but became more organized in its current form in 1986. The Manitoba Open, then more recently the MTS Classic, Free Press Manitoba Classic and Players Cup have featured prominent winners like Dan Halldorson, Moe Norman, Dave Barr and Knudson.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

THE LIST

PROFESSIONAL

2000 AT&T CANADA SENIOR OPEN; CHAMPIONS TOUR

Club: St. Charles

Winner: Tom Jenkins

 

1992 DU MAURIER LTD. CLASSIC, LPGA TOUR

Club: St. Charles

Winner: Sherri Steinhauer

 

1982 PETER JACKSON CHAMPIONS, SR. PGA TOUR

Club: St. Charles

Winner: Bob Goalby

 

1976 CPGA

Club: St. Charles

Winner: George Knudson

 

1962 CANADIAN OPEN

Club: Niakwa

Winner: Jacky Cupit

 

1960 CPGA

Club: Niakwa

Winner: Bill Kerr

 

1952 CPGA

Club: Niakwa

Winner: Pat Fletcher

 

1952 CANADIAN OPEN

Club: St. Charles

Winner: Johnny Palmer

 

1946 CPGA

Club: Niakwa

Winner: Jules Huot

 

AMATEUR

 

2008 CANADIAN WOMEN'S AMATEUR

Club: Elmhurst

Winner: Stacey Keating

 

2001 CANADIAN WOMEN'S AMATEUR

Club: Niakwa

Winner: Lisa Meldrum

 

1996 CANADIAN MEN'S AMATEUR

Club: Glendale

Winner: Rob McMillan

 

1991 CANADIAN WOMEN'S AMATEUR

Club: Glendale

Winner: Adele Moore

 

1981 CANADIAN WOMEN'S AMATEUR

Club: St. Charles

Winner: Jane Lock

 

1974 CANADIAN MEN'S AMATEUR

Club: Niakwa

Winner: Doug Roxburgh

 

1972 CANADIAN WOMEN'S AMATEUR

Club: Niakwa

Winner: Marlene Streit

 

1965 AMERICAS CUP MATCHES

Club: St. Charles

Winner: Canada

 

1965 CANADIAN MEN'S AMATEUR

Club: Pine Ridge

Winner: Bunky Henry

 

1957 CANADIAN MEN'S AMATEUR

Club: St. Charles

Winner: Nick Weslock

 

1956 CANADIAN WOMEN'S AMATEUR

Club: Niakwa

Winner: Marlene Streit

 

1950 CANADIAN WOMEN'S AMATEUR

Club: St. Charles

Winner: Dorothy Kielty

 

1937 CANADIAN WOMEN'S AMATEUR

Club: St. Charles

Winner: Mrs. John Rogers

 

1936 CANADIAN MEN'S AMATEUR

Club: Niakwa

Winner: Fred Haas, Jr.

 

1933 CANADIAN WOMEN'S AMATEUR

Club: Pine Ridge

Winner: Ada McKenzie

 

1926 CANADIAN WOMEN'S AMATEUR

Club: Elmhurst

Winner: Ada McKenzie

 

1921 CANADIAN MEN'S AMATEUR

Club: Winnipeg Golf Club

Winner: C.B. Grier

 

SCHEDULED

 

2011 CANADIAN MEN'S AMATEUR

Club: Niakwa

 

2014 CANADIAN MEN'S AMATEUR

Club: Elmhurst

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 21, 2010 D4

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