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Graham Delaet
Who is the greatest Canadian golfer of all time?  well the debate will always rage on as the Canadian talent becomes greater.  Currently, David Hearn of Brantford ON and Graham DeLaet of Weyburn SK are carrying the Red and White on the PGA Tour and around the world.  These two great players are just beginning to cement their names in Canadian golf history and only time will tell how far up the ranks they will climb.  Stephen Ames of Calgary AB is still playing but has never gained the respect from Canadians that Mike Weir carried for the better part of 10 years.  However, if our future turns out to be as good as what some of the individuals in my list achieved, the state of the game in Canada will be in good hands....

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Mike Weir Masters 2003
Yet one thing that continues to be disappointing is that our new golfers and shockingly, new professionals, in the country are not well educated in the past history of our golf culture.  For example, I participated in a PGA of Canada seminar a couple years back, where we were asked to list ten great Canadian golfers.  I easily named ten and probably left another ten off my list.  The problem is, the other professionals in the group had problems listing more than 5 great Canadian golfers.  So with that said, I've had time to rethink and actually put my top 10 in order. 

The list was compiled based on achievements as players and what they accomplished at the Provincial, Natiional, and International level.  PGA Tour history and Major Championship wins or appearances were highly considered over National Amateur or Major Amateur accomplishments.  Some players in Canada have played on the PGA Tour and made over a million dollars in career earnings, and definitely have their place in Canadian golf history.  I hope you enjoy the list and if you feel I have left anyone out, please make an argument below.

10.  C. Ross (Sandy Somerville)
- Won 6 Canadian Amateur Championships from 1926-1937
- First Canadian to win U.S. Amateur Championship in 1932
- 3 Canadian Senior Championships

9.  Jim Nelford
- 2 Canadian Amateur Championships
- 1977 Western Amateur Championship
- 2 second place finishes on the PGA Tour
- Won World Cup of Golf with Dan Halldorson

8.  Dave Barr
- 2 PGA Tour Wins
- 1 Champions Tour Win
- 12 Canadian Tour Wins (1 CPGA Championship)
- T2 1985 U.S. Open

7.  Gary Cowan
- 1 Canadian Amateur Championship
- 9 Ontario Amateur Championships
- 2 U.S. Amateur Championships
- 1969 Porter Cup

6.  Pat Fletcher
- 1952 PGA of Canada Championship
- 1954 Canadian Open Champion (last Canadian to win)

5.  George S. Lyon
- 8 Canadian Amateur Championships
- Only Golf Olympic Medalist in Golf 1904

4.  Stan Leonard
- 3 PGA Tour victories
- 36 Canadian Tour Victories (Including 8 CPGA Championships)
- 3 PGA of Canada Senior Championships

3.  Moe Norman
- Arguably the greatest ball striker in history
- 2 Canadian Amateur Championships
- 55 Career Canadian Tour Victories (Including 2 CPGA Championships)
- 8 PGA of Canada Senior Championships
- 33 course records

2.  George Knudson
- 8 PGA Tour Wins
- 5 PGA of Canada Championships
- 3 Top tens at the Masters (T2 1969)
- 25 Professional Wins Worldwide

1.  Mike Weir
- 8 PGA Tour Wins (in Tiger Woods era)
- 2003 Masters Champion and only Canadian to win a Major
- 14 Professional Worldwide wins
- 5 time President's Cup team member



Other notable players who didn't make the list:
Al Balding, Bob Panasik, Doug Roxburgh, Jerry Anderson, Dan Halldorson, Brent Franklin, Jim Rutledge, Richard Zokol




Notable Canadian players to watch
Eugene Wong, Adam Hadwin, Matt Hill, Michael Gligic, Roger Sloan, Brad Fritsch, Nick Taylor, Andrew Parr, Richard Scott, Matt McQuillan

IN CONCLUSION

George Knudson and Mike Weir were very much similar in their accomplishments.  Yet there are two significant areas that separate them, but again only by a little.  First, Mike Weir won the Masters (2003) while Knudson finished second (1969).  Secondly, Mike Weir's wins were all significant on the PGA Tour, exception being the 2007 Frys.com Open.  His first win came on Canadian soil in 1996 and 6 of the 8 wins featured fields with Tiger Woods and a large percentage of top 50 world ranked players.  He currently sits inside the top 50 in career earnings during a period of golf that was dominated and revolutionized by Tiger Woods.  George Knudson, in defence, played in an era that featured Palmer, Nicklaus, Player, and still saw flashes from Sam Snead and Ben Hogan.  Knudson was plagued with poor putting at times and Mike Weir was brilliant around the greens and is what made him breakthrough in 2003.  Moe Norman would be higher ranked and possibly in the top golfers of all time, if not for his social demons.  If you ever got the chance to watch Moe hit a ball, you can consider yourself blessed.

Our history is great and a list like this should be compiled every few years.  I say that only because we seldom forget those that put Canada on the golf map.  Again,  I just want you to know, it was a tough list to compile and I would love to hear any arguments.  It would be great to hear what you think and who would be on your list.

Also, as a token of my appreciation of taking a read about some of the greatest players to ever play the game of golf in Canada, I have included a special download from one of the greatest putting guru's in the world.

 


Glen Yearsley
04/02/2010 7:32pm

Hello Jim;
Your top 10 is a fine choice of gentlemen indeed. This year, 2010 Ben Kern is being inducted to the Canadian Golf Hall of fame in Oakville and although he didn't make your list has made his mark on the Canadian Golf Community. In earlier days my mother worked alongside his sister Eva in Mississauga and has one of her paintings hanging in her living room.

Regards
Glen A. Yearsley
Cambridge

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Frank Kenesky
04/06/2010 1:59pm

Jim: You're list is great but one of them should not be on it. I find it hard that Nick Weslock was not included in your top ten greatest Canadian golfers. As an amateur, his record was superb.
8 Ontario Amateur titles
7 Ontario Open titles (beat the
pros 7 times)
11 times Canadian Open low
amateur
4 Canadian amateur titles
11 Ontario Senior Titles
4 Canadian Senior Titles
Member RCGA Hall of Fame (1972)

Several years ago, the late great golf legend Tommy Bolt upon seeing Nick at the Super Seniors Golf Championship at King City, Ont. announced loudly for everyone to hear within earshot, "Nick Weslock, Canada's greatest amateur golfer". Now nobody gets an introduction like that from Tommy Bolt, and, I might add, was quoted by Ben Hogan as being one of the greatest shotmakers of all time. Tommy Bolt does not give out compliments unless they are deserving and well earned.

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Jim Kenesky
04/06/2010 6:31pm

I agree with Nick Weslock, as he was a great Amateur golfer in this country. I think PGA tour status and winning at that level is such a great credential and of the highest in our game. That's why my list is comprised of mainly individuals whom competed and won on the PGA Tour.
I met Mr. Weslock for a coffee a few years back and had one of the greatest conversations with any golfer I've ever had. He was a true a gentleman in our conversation and had some great stories. He was a great player and deserves all the accolades he has received.

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04/14/2013 8:07pm

Westlock was known among the players he competed with as "Nick the Prick" because of the subtle psychological interference he practiced on them in their matches. Fair game I say.

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Don Barton
07/15/2010 11:54am

Which Canadian golfer had the nickname of Weed?

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Jurgen Hebel
03/17/2012 7:48pm

was it not the great Moe Norman who was nicknamed Weed because he worked and played almost always at a course?

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Cliff Morris
06/04/2013 5:44am

Where can I get a DVD or VHS of Moe Norman's swing?

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STEVEN FARAHER
09/19/2014 8:07pm

Several years ago, in Golf Digest, Lee Trevino selected the greatest players he saw in different categories, such as short irons,long irons, driver, fairway woods, putting. To my surprise, he picked none other than George Knudson as the greatest fairway wood player. Hale Irwin was ranked 2nd. I had always known Knudson as a great iron player, little did I know he was so great with the fairway woods as well. Ah, if only he could putt!

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