Ziemer's B.C. Golf Notes: Remembering Neil Roberts; Storm closes University Golf Club; Du Toit, Gorbahn do Q-school in Mexico; Lee helps Canada win bronze; Phil and Patty Jonas honoured by PGA of Saskatchewan

By Brad Ziemer, British Columbia Golf

Pitt Meadows Golf Club and the B.C. golf community are mourning the passing of longtime head professional Neil Roberts. Roberts was a fixture at Pitt Meadows for more than 30 years before retiring in 2017.

Known for his dry wit, Roberts had a knack for making everyone feel welcome at Pitt Meadows. Roberts was also a fine player. His win at the 1995 PGA of B.C. Championship earned Roberts an exemption into the inaugural Greater Vancouver Open in 1996 at Northview Golf Club in Surrey.

But Roberts realized he wasn’t going to be able to make a living playing the game he loved. “I knew I wasn’t going to subsidize my income by playing golf,” Roberts told British Columbia Golf’s Bryan Outram in an interview celebrating Pitt Meadows’ 50th anniversary in 2013.

“I wasn’t good enough to make it on the Canadian Tour or anything like that so I thought, “I’m going to spend my life behind the counter of a pro shop playing golf and teaching golf, which is what I’ve done for a long time and I just love it. 

“I love being around people, I love being around the game of golf. I love teaching young people to play golf and keeping them away from the street corners . . .I’ve met so many great people and made a lot of good friends.” 

One of those friends was two-time PGA Championship winner Dave Stockton, who became an honorary member at Pitt Meadows and visited the club regularly to offer instruction clinics to members. 

Roberts died Nov. 1 at Ridge Meadows Hospital, following a lengthy illness. He was 65 and is survived by his wife Kelly and daughter Ashley. He joined Pitt Meadows as an assistant pro in 1985 and succeeded Rick Parkinson as head professional in 2002. Wes Doka, the current head professional at Pitt Meadows, worked as an assistant for Roberts for many years.

“He had a great sense of humour and was fun to be around,” Doka said. “He was a mentor to me. I learned a lot and appreciate everything he did for me and giving me the opportunity to come on board here as assistant. He had a positive impact on so many people at the club. It’s hard to think of Pitt Meadows Golf Club without thinking about Neil.”

STORM WATCH: University Golf Club in Vancouver was expected to be closed for three or four days after a freak wind storm hit the course late Saturday afternoon. The club was without power Sunday and a huge amount of debris was scattered all over the course. 

“I would say we are probably going to be closed for a few days,” said head professional Steve Liddicoat. “Our superintendent said it was probably going to be four or five days of clean up. There are a few large trees down, but the worst of it is just a lot debris.”

image credit Craig Lazaruk

The recent storm in the UBC/Point Grey area has left University GC with many fallen trees and debris on the golf course. As a result, UGC will be CLOSED until further notice

Fortunately, no players were on the course when the storm struck around 5:45 p.m. “We are super thankful that no one got hurt,” Liddicoat said. “There was no one on the golf course. There were a few people on the range and our restaurant was just starting its dinner rush. A majority of the vehicles in our lot were unscathed. Everyone kind of made it off site safely. 

“My guy who was in the golf shop when it happened said there was a minute or two of hail to start, then all of a sudden this wind just whipped through and then it was gone. It lasted about two minutes.” 

ON TO HOUSTON: Abbotsford’s Nick Taylor closed with an even-par 71 and tied for 33rd at 10-under par at the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba in Mexico. That was 13 shots behind Norway’s Viktor Hovland, who won the event for the second straight year. Surrey’s Adam Svensson shot a six-under 65 Sunday and tied for 45th at eight-under. Abbotsford’s Adam Hadwin tied for 56th at seven-under after his 71 on Sunday.

Merritt’s Roger Sloan missed the cut by a shot. The PGA TOUR heads to Texas this week for the Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open, where Mexico’s Carlos Ortiz is the defending champion. It’s a hometown event of sorts for Sloan, who now lives in the Houston area. Svensson and Taylor are the other British Columbians in the field this week. Hadwin is taking the week off.

PHOENIX OPEN GIVEAWAY: Adam Hadwin and his wife Jessica started The Hadwin Family Foundation last year to help families and individuals experiencing unforeseen medical and financial hardships. Anyone making a donation this month to the foundation will be entered into a draw to win two weekly (Thursday through Sunday) passes to the 2022 Waste Management Phoenix Open. Donations can be made via thehadwinfamilyfoundation.org or through the foundation’s Facebook and Instagram accounts. The winner will be drawn on Dec. 7. The tournament is scheduled for Feb. 10-13.

BRONZE FOR LEE: Coquitlam’s Henry Lee partnered with Johnny Travale of Hamilton as Canada’s men’s team won bronze at the Spirit International Amateur Golf Championship in Trinity, Tex. Lee and Travale finished the 54-hole event at one-under par, just one shot behind the second-place United States team and two back of the winning Swedish squad. Lee tied for ninth in the individual competition at two-over par. Travale was third at three-under. Canada’s women’s team finished sixth. Canada placed second in the combined event.

SCHOOL IS IN: A total of 457 players from 31 differentcountries have registered to play in four PGA Tour LatinoAmerica qualifying schools this month. They include Lee, Kimberley’s Jared du Toit and Kaleb Gorbahn of Smithers, who will all tee it up this week at the Estrella del Mar Resort in Mazatlan, Mexico. Du Toit will be looking for a repeat performance at Estrella del Mar. He won the PGA LA Q- School there in January of 2020.

RUNNING BACK TO SASKATOON: British Columbia exports Phil and Patty Jonas appear to have settled in quite nicely in their new golfing home. The two British Columbia Golf Hall of Famers, who now operate their Jonas Golf Academy out of Saskatoon Golf & Country Club picked up year-end awards handed out by the PGA of Saskatchewan. 

Jonas won the Frank Fowler Trophy for the lowest stroke average, the Peter Cusher Trophy for the Oder of Merit championship, as well as the Scott Knapp Trophy for player of the year.
Patty Jonas was named winner of the John Gaudent Trophy as teacher of the year.

ZIGGY STARDUST: Former UBC Thunderbird Ziggy Nathu of Richmond shot a seven-under 65 to win a Vancouver Golf Tour one-day event at Meadow Gardens Golf Course by two shots over Lawren Rowe of Squamish. Nathu earned $450.

CHIP SHOT: B.C. Women’s Amateur champion Leah John of Vancouver finished her fall season at the University of Nevada with a tie of third at the recent Ram Classic in Fort Collins, Colo. John completed the 54-hole event at one-over par and helped Nevada finish second in the team competition.