Cec Ferguson

Cec Ferguson

Ferguson hears golf Hall calling

Cec Ferguson, manager at Vernon Golf & Country Club, will be inducted into the Golf Hall of Fame of B.C. in October at the Caplilano Golf and Country Club in West Vancouver.

Cec Ferguson doesn’t read golf magazines or books and the only golf movie he’s seen is the classic Caddyshack.

If Tiger Woods is playing at his best, Ferguson will watch a few hours on TV.

The rest of the time, he’s managing the Vernon Golf and Country Club or sitting on his deck enjoying a cranberry and soda and a cigarette or two.

If you were looking for the burly 61-year-old on Wednesday morning, he was taking a few moments to do a little maintenance work.

“I just got put in the Hall of Fame and here I am fixing a light in the ladies locker room,” laughed Ferguson, who will join the Golf Hall of Fame of B.C. in October at the Caplilano Golf and Country Club in West Vancouver.

His career stats include being a three-time BCPGA champion, two-time Saskatchewan Open winner, B.C. Open champion and four-time Saskatchewan PGA Senior title holder.

“It’s pretty humbling to be honoured by your peers,” said Ferguson, who was born in Nanaimo and raised in Victoria. “It’s exciting and in my speech, it will be important for me to stress to people how I value the friendships I’ve made through golf. People like Sandy Kurceba, Greg Pidlaski and Jim Rutledge. The game has been outstanding to me.”

A father of three with three grandchildren, Ferguson was nine when he used to caddy Friday afternoons for his dad, Vern, and friends. By 11, Cec was shooting in the low 80s and playing scores of rounds at the Gorge Vale Club, where his dad spent five years as food and beverage manager. His mom, Lilian, was also in the hospitality industry.

He attended high school in Esquimalt, where there was no golf team.

“I was an average student in high school. If I was missing, they knew where to find me.”

Ferguson took a five-year golf sabbatical, for personal reasons, returning to the game at age 23.

“I played fastball in the Stuffy’s (he was a catcher/shortstop) senior C fastball league and Grant Rutledge was my coach. He asked me to play golf with his son (Jim) and I got back in the game.”

He won the Victoria City Amateur from 1973-75 and claimed the 1976 B.C. Open as an amateur. He was on Canada’s Commonwealth six-man team in 1975, the highlight of his career.

Future PGA Tour player Jim Nelford and starry amateur Doug Roxburgh were on the team in South Africa.

“We were playing Ryder Cup (format) so you got points for wins. After we lost our first match, something like 8-4, to South Africa, there was a Canada Dry flag in the newspaper and they called us a bunch of international no-hopers in reference to Roxburgh being the only guy with international experience.

“We then knocked off New Zealand and England who had two guys named (Nick) Faldo and (Sandy) Lyle and I forget who else. We started winning quite handidly (Ferguson was the lone Canadian to win all his matches) and the newspaper slowly started to give us some respect and we ended up winning.”

Ferguson especially enjoyed a match against Scottish champion David Greig.

“I knocked him off after 15 holes and I never understood a single word he said all day. He had a strong Gaelic accent.”

He said Faldo, then 18, was ultra confident at the tournament.

“I remember Nelford going up to Faldo and wishing him luck for his afternoon match. Faldo looked at Nelford and said, ‘Thanks, but I won’t need it’ and he kicked Jimmy’s butt.”

Ferguson and teammates were dressed up to the nines, with red jackets, for the champions dinner.

“What a thrill that was. When we actually went up for the flag raising, it was quite something. We, being Canadians, actually picked up a lot of fans along the way. My caddy, who didn’t speak English so he’d point to the left or right on the greens, was pretty happy because he won a pool with the other caddies. It was pretty special.”

Ferguson spent eight years playing the Canadian, Australian and Asian Tours, and got to the finals in three Qualifying Schools.

Asked how his peers would describe him as a player, Ferguson replied: “They would probably tell you I was a very confident individual with a bit of an edge. I was focussed. I would tell a guy on the first tee, ‘Don’t take it personally, but I don’t talk when I’m playing.’ Some people would say I was cocky, but I believe cocky is just being confident. If I was at 4-under, I would push myself to get to 5-under.”

Kurceba, now head pro at the Falcon Lake course near Winnipeg, met Ferguson at the 1976 Manitoba Open and played the Aussie and Canadian Tours alongside him and Bob Beauchemin.

“I saw him with the power to take Glen Abbey (in Toronto) on,” said Kurceba, on his cell phone in between shots Friday afternoon. “He had the power and power fades that equalled Jack Nicklaus’ swing. He knew how to march around a golf course. He’s such a great competitor, a great gentleman and a great promoter of golf.”

While some players have trouble handling the stress of tournament play, Ferguson thrived on the different heart beat.

“Playing golf was my release. I would arrive at the parking lot and shut everything else down. Competing was something I enjoyed.”

Ferguson once held the course record, 67, at Predator Ridge, where he has fond memories of running a major tournament.

“The B.C. Open, in 1993, was a ton of fun. We had 450 volunteers and seeing all of them on the side of the hill at 18, what a great production.”

Ferguson, a big B.C. Lions backer, has spent two decades in club management at courses in Regina, Powell River and Vancouver. He’s thrilled about being honoured at Capilano on Oct. 27 along with Jim Rutledge, Dawn Coe-Jones and the late Bob Kidd and Walter McElroy.

“Capilano is my favourite course. I used to sit on a bench by the upper putting green and just look out over the city. It’s not the toughest course, but it’s the prettiest.”

The Golf Hall of Fame of B.C. currently has 25 honoured members inducted.