After Nearly 40 Years, Roxburgh Remembers A Difficult Olivos Golf Club
Jan. 7, 2010
By Pete Kowalski, USGA
Buenos Aires, Argentina – Next month, he will be watching the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in his hometown of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Yet nearly 40 years ago, the then 20 year old was on the international golf stage in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
This week Doug Roxburgh returns to that place, Olivos Golf Club, as the Canadian captain at the Copa de las Americas. In 1972, he was a member of the Royal Canadian Golf Association’s squad at the World Amateur Team Championships. The Eisenhower Trophy competition returns to Olivos Golf Club in October.
“It was a difficult golf course then and it is even more difficult now,” said Roxburgh, with a knowing laugh. “The trees have grown in,
the green speeds are faster and the conditions are better because of the Argentine Masters here. My friend, Tony Gresham of Australia, was the medalist that year (by two strokes over Americans Ben Crenshaw and Vinny Giles) and the scores weren’t very low and they haven’t been at the Argentine Masters either.“
Roxburgh, now the Director of High Performance Programs for the RCGA, played on the Canadian team that finished eighth with teammates Keith Alexander, Dave Barr and Nick Westlock (now deceased).
“It was my first time in South America and we stopped in Rio on the way down and played a two-day challenge match with Brazil and a couple of other countries,” said Roxburgh, a five-time Canadian captain for the World Amateur. “But I had played in the Commonwealth Matches with teams from the UK (United Kingdom) and Australia the year before.”
Roxburgh’s most compelling memory of the 1972 World Amateur Team Championships was the bombing that hit the hotel, where the teams were staying. Tragically, two people were killed, but none were associated with the golf championship. As a result, security was ramped up after the decision was made to continue the competition.
“The whole thing with the hotel was unsettling,” Roxburgh said. “It happened on the third practice day. We weren’t sure we were going to stick it out. There was increased security at the hotel and the golf course. The Army was brought to Olivos and the bus was searched and handbags and all to make sure it was OK. They did as good a job as they could.”
Roxburgh received a good luck e-mail from World Golf Hall of Fame member Marlene Streit, who was a member of the Canadian women’s team and stayed in the hotel.
“From her e-mail, she said she was on the same floor but on the other side of the building,” Roxburgh said. “She said she can still remember the long trip down the stairs. When they got out, the Army had already arrived.”
The innocence of youth helped the golfers get through that difficult time, said Roxburgh.
“We were so young, it didn’t impact us that much,” he said. “It was unsettling, but you just went on with it because you were there to play golf and have that experience.”
Roxburgh, who played in seven Eisenhower Trophy competitions, shot 75-75-80-73 in that first contest at Olivos Golf Club.
His best finish was in 1992, when he shot 69-74-73-69. Canada’s best finish in his seven events was second in 1978, in Fiji.
The 2010 Canada Copa de las Americas team was tied for second after the first round at Buenos Aires Golf Club. Competitors moved over to Olivos Golf Club for round two on Thursday. Canada has an impressive team, including 2009 U.S. Open low amateur Nick Taylor, and guiding those players remains Roxburgh’s top priority.
When the 72-hole Copa de las Americas concludes on Saturday, don’t blame Roxburgh if his attention returns to another international athletic event.
His family has Winter Olympics tickets for short track speed skating, figure skating, curling, ice hockey and some evening medal ceremonies.
With a young man's enthusiasm, he said: “I have never been to the Olympics. It’s exciting. The city is getting pumped up for it with banners and venues and tent complexes. It’s a neat event but there will be chaos with traffic.
“But, with all that, you make do.”
Pete Kowalski is the manager of championship communications for the USGA. E-mail him with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.