Golf Canada presidents continue serving the game

Oct 18, 2021

By Mario Annicchiarico; Special to Mackenzietour.com

Pictured from top left to bottom right: Roland Deveau, Dale Jackson, Jack MacDonald, Jim Halliday, Harry Zuzak.

VICTORIA, British Columbia—With most of its American rules officiating crew unable to join them for the altered 2021 Mackenzie Tour – PGA Tour Canada season, the organization turned to some very reliable sources for help.

In addition to more than a dozen rules experts who lent their services at various times at all eight 2021 Mackenzie Tour tournaments, four others may have been even a little more well-known than the rest. This quartet consisted of past Golf Canada (formerly Royal Canadian Golf Association) presidents, along with the organization’s current vice president, and they all kindly stepped in to help save the cross-country, COVID-affected campaign.

Dale Jackson, Golf Canada vice president, was one of the main coordinators, and it was Jackson who—in a big way—got the golf ball rolling.

“I’m to blame, yeah,” Jackson said with a chuckle during the fourth round of the Mackenzie Tour season finale, the Reliance Properties DC Bank Open presented by Times Colonist in his hometown of Victoria, B.C.

“This is an unusual year, so we have half the number of regular rules officials—I’m one of them—so we needed to identify some help in Canada rather than bringing them up from the U.S. I know all these guys because I have been around Golf Canada for so many years,” Jackson added.

So, Jackson and others called on wily veterans Harry Zuzak, Jim Halliday, Jack McDonald and Roland Deveau to come to the rescue. Jackson had previously worked with all of them. Together the group has well more than 120 years of officiating experience.

“They’re all really good rules officials and all four have worked professional events, be it Mackenzie Tour, (PGA TOUR) Champions or PGA TOUR. Jim worked for PGA Tour Champions for 15 years, and Jack will have done 30 PGA TOUR events, so they’re all extremely qualified. It seemed natural to phone them up and see if they were interested,” said Jackson.

All four jumped at the chance, with Deveau, of Halifax, lending his expertise at the Prince Edward Island Open and Brudenell River Classic in P.E.I. Zuzak, the elder statesman of the group, worked the ATB Financial Classic in Calgary, Alberta, along with McDonald, who worked the Victoria stop. Halliday jumped in at the Golf BC Championship in Kelowna, B.C., and capped it off in Victoria, while Jackson, himself, worked six events.

“Dale asked, ‘Can you help out?’ and I said, ‘Sure.’ There was no hesitation,” said Halliday, the 2005 Golf Canada president who is originally from Toronto but moved to Victoria in 1984. “This has been great. I think it’s a great Tour. I worked in 1999-2001 in Victoria (when it was the Canadian Tour). I was about to become chairman of the rules golf committee, so I’ve always been keen to work events and get more experience.”

Halliday ended up working for PGA TOUR Champions for 15 years, before retiring in 2019.

McDonald, of Kamloops, B.C., also received the call from Jackson.

“He invited me to participate in this one (in Victoria) and the one in Calgary. It was pretty much an immediate response. It’s easy to go to Calgary because our two daughters live there, and it’s an easy trip (to Victoria) from Kamloops,” said McDonald, Golf Canada president in 2010.

“It’s been good. It’s always good to be out on the golf course and officiating, for me, is fun. We enjoy what we’re up here doing.”

Deveau was a natural choice for the two P.E.I. stops as the Halifax, Nova Scotia, resident gleefully offered up his services.

“When this came along, I jumped at the opportunity,” said Deveau, the first two-term president of Golf Canada. “It’s always interesting to work for different associations, to see how they do things differently. It keeps you sharp in terms of your practice.

“It was awesome,” he added of the two P.E.I. tournaments. “I always say we’re proud to hold events, such as these two in P.E.I. I’m proud to be someone from Atlantic Canada to work that event, showcasing some of the nicest courses in Atlantic Canada.”

Deveau had previously worked Canadian stops on the Mackenzie Tour, as well as the Korn Ferry Tour. He also has his experiences from the RBC Canadian Open on the PGA TOUR, like the other five co-officials.

Zuzak is the elder statesman of the group, who now hails from Beaumont, Alberta, just south of Edmonton.

“It was nice to get together. There were two of us past presidents at the Calgary event, with Jack McDonald being there, and Dale was doing the spearheading,” said Zuzak, the 2002 Golf Canada president, who worked the Canadian Tour for 10 years and continued for four more when PGA TOUR Canada came into existence.

“I’m always prepared to help. They’ve got young bucks coming in and that’s good,” said the well-respected 83-year-old, who first became involved in the sport in 1985 with the Alberta Golf Association, when golf course rating became the rage. Zuzak had an engineering background, and he had written a few articles on the new slope system that came in.

Zuzak was the chair of the handicap course rating committee where the Canadian provinces managed most of the rating, but he oversaw it from a national level. He got into rules in the late 1980s, and his love for that aspect of the game is still very evident.

“Very much so, if I am needed or called on, I will obviously respond,” he said. “The years keep flying by, and I’m trying to participate as much as I can. If it comes to a situation where you´re asked, you go. I just never push for it anymore.”

Together they make an extremely knowledgeable crew, said Jackson, who will take over the Golf Canada presidency in 2023.

”It’s a nice team. We all get along well. We all want the same thing—to put on the best event for the players, so it’s been good,” said Jackson, the youngest of the crew, at 66, with 20 years of officiating experience.

“Yeah, I’m the junior guy,” he said. “Harry has more than 30 years; Jim has 30; Jack 25; and Rollie is the same as me. That’s a lot of years between us. You don’t do what we’ve done, with all four of them being past presidents; you don’t go down that road of being an officer of Golf Canada and still stay involved unless you have an enormous passion for the game. We certainly all do.

“If you ever see one or two or three of us in a group talking, you won’t know what we’re talking about, and you’d be bored stiff because we just dive right into all the details of rules and tournaments and details of golf. We are the pinnacle of golf-nerdom,” Jackson said with a laugh.

Jackson, himself, has an impressive resume having worked four British Opens, four U.S. Opens, four Masters, five Dell Match Play events, a few PLAYERS Championships and a dozen RBC Canadian Opens. Then there was the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janiero, Brazil.

“It was an honor to be there, representing Canada,” he said of golf returning to the Olympic picture. Graham DeLaet and David Hearn represented the Canadian men’s team, and both are graduates of the former Canadian Tour.

And you can say that Jackson and the former past presidents all had a hand in watching players like DeLaet and Hearn make their way through the ranks.

“That’s what this Tour is for, and that’s one of the reasons I really enjoy it,” said Jackson. “We’re here to give them a Tour experience, not a mini-tour golf experience, and we’re here to teach them how to play tour golf.

“If we see something that’s too slow or something in their deportment on the course; we really try to work with them in a helpful way to let them know what’s coming. If they want to keep working up the chain, they might have to change, and I like that part of it.”

Said Halliday: “It’s great to see the young guys who can really play. When I started on the Champions Tour, Arnold (Palmer) was still playing. Jack (Nicklaus), Gary (Player), Lee (Trevino), Tom Watson, Nick Price, Bernhard (Langer) and then the Europeans started to come in. Over time the new guys started to come along like (Canadians) Rod Spittle and Jim (Rutledge).

“The players now come through Golf Canada, which was after my time, so I didn’t see them so much. It’s a great program, and we have a lot of great players,” added Halliday, of the likes of Mackenzie Hughes, Adam Hadwin, Nick Taylor and Corey Conners all on the PGA TOUR.

“I remember when I first met Mike Weir on (the Canadian) Tour back at Gorge Vale (Golf Club) in the late 1990s. Then I worked the Masters the year that he won, so that was exciting. We’ve had some good Canadian players come along and that’s exciting.”

McDonald also carries that Canadian pride.

“We just always have to remember that we’re here to help them and that’s the important part, to help them develop and play by the rules,” said McDonald of his role with players. “It’s a welcome opportunity for them to develop and go forward.”

Afterall, that is a goal for Golf Canada, as well.

“Golf Canada is very supportive of this Tour and, while it wasn’t the primary reason I contacted this group, the idea that we’ve helped out was really cool – to be able to work with the Tour. That’s something we’d like to do a bit more,” offered Jackson.

“Anybody who has been involved in Canadian golf has been a fan of the Canadian Tour, and now the Mackenzie Tour, for years and years and years. We know some of the players, certainly most of us know some of the staff and it was a great opportunity to help out. I think it’s worked out well.”

Of that, there is no question said Scott Pritchard, the Mackenzie Tour’s Executive Director.

“Because of the pandemic we had to adjust and haven’t had our normal U.S.-based rules staff working with us. Having their experience has been a great asset for this season,” said Pritchard.

Mario Annicchiarico is a freelance writer based in Victoria, B.C., and has covered the Canadian Tour and Mackenzie Tour – PGA Tour Canada off and on since the late 1980s.

 

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