The 1979 Willingdon Cup Team
Prior to the 1979 Canadian Men’s Amateur Championship, British Columbia accomplished a rare feat in Canadian golf history. The fact BC won the Willingdon Cup was not something new; the provincial men’s team accomplished the feat sixteen times from 1931 to 1978. The rarity lies in the fact that all four team members of the BC team were clubmates at the Marine Drive Golf Club in Vancouver, BC.
To illustrate how uncommon this feat really was, we researched the BC records to find if ever three players from the same club had been on a BC provincial team. In 1969, John Russell, from the Point Grey G&CC managed to join three Marine Drive GC clubmates Harry White, Doug Roxburgh, and Mike Buckley on the team. The team placed second in the Willingdon Cup Team Competition that year.
Another example of the difficulty of this accomplishment is the selection process that was used from 1969 to 1983. The BC team was chosen from the lowest aggregate score from four scores posted in the BC Men’s Amateur Championship and two scores posted in the BC Men’s Invitational Championship.
At the conclusion of the BC Amateur, won by Fred Couples, nine Marine Drive members joined the field of fifty-four players in the BC Invitational to choose the 1979 BC Willingdon team. The Victoria Daily Colonist reported: “Never before has one golf club completely dominated BC’s Willingdon Cup team. Never before has one player been so dominating in the 36-hole BC Invitational. Kelly Murray, the outgoing, hard-hitting Marine Driver who struggled to be the fourth best player at his club became the No1 amateur in the province in Victoria this weekend.” He defeated the field shooting 68 at Glen Meadows and 72 at the Victoria GC. His six-round total of 427 led the field by 10 strokes.
In 1979, like previous Willingdon Cup competitions, was a 36-hole competition that pitted the four best players from each province against each other. The three best individual scores from each four-man team were recorded each day. BC’s 216 score after the first round led the competition by seven strokes. We’re used to soggy wet conditions! Doug Roxburgh led the team to victory over Quebec. This gave BC the Cup for the sixth time in nine years. The Marine Drive G. C. could now proudly display the Willingdon Cup in their clubhouse:- the first time such a feat had ever been accomplished in the Willingdon Cup competition.
Extensive Willingdon Cup records do not exist so it is difficult to determine if three clubmates were part of any Willingdon Cup Team. Initial research definitely indicates no Willingdon Cup Team comprised of three clubmates has ever won the Willingdon Cup.