Mary Ann Lapointe, Lorne Rubenstein in Canadian Golf Hall of Fame

Interesting to note that later today the RCGA will tomorrow announce the [photopress:Lorne_Rubenstein.jpg,full,alignright]induction of Mary Ann Lapointe, long one of Canada’s top female amateurs, and journalist Lorne Rubenstein, into the Golf Hall of Fame.

Both are deserving, but I think there is an unusual trend here — inducting athletes and journalists who are still active in the sport. Certainly Lapointe, who was on Canada’s national team last year, and Rubenstein, who remains a regular columnist with the Globe and Mail, are not at the end of their respective careers. I bet neither would feel their best is behind them. In my mind that makes this a bit of a strange decision.

[photopress:Mary_Ann_Lapointe.jpg,full,alignleft]Nonetheless, both are deserving to be there. Rubenstein helped put golf journalism back on the map in Canada. Lapointe has been the obvious successor to Marlene Stewart Streit.

Both Lapointe and Rubenstein were inducted into the Ontario Golf Hall of Fame last year. I can’t speak for Lapointe, who I’ve only met in passing, but I’ll state that Lorne remains passionate about the game and committed to a specific philosophy. I’d be thrilled if he occasionally decided to voice his philosophical take on the game a little more loudly — as lots would listen — but that’s up to him. As a recent email I received from him indicates, he’s still got the fire about what he loves and loathes in regards to the game.

Last year when Rubenstein was inducted into the HOF, I wrote the following feature that appeared in Ontario Golf:

Words of interest
New Hall of Fame members Lorne Rubenstein and Jim Barclay have helped build the game in Canada as few have before them

The pinnacle of every sport is its individual hall of fame. It represents excellence. Entrance into a hall, usually voted by ones peers, is proof that youve done great things in your individual sport.

The door of the hall most typically swings open only for players within their sport. Thats why it wasnt surprising when in May top-flight amateurs Mary Ann Lapointe and Kelly Roberts were enshrined into the Ontario Golf Hall of Fame. Both Lapointe and Roberts have had remarkable careers, including amateur championships too numerous to mention.

But it wasnt their induction that was atypical this year; it was the appointment of two of Canadas foremost golf writers”Lorne Rubenstein and Jim Barclay.

Although non-players, there have been few more worthy entrants to the hall. Both have played vital roles in promoting the game and thrusting it into the Canadian spotlight. It could, in fact, be argued that few actual golfers beyond Mike Weir have had as much influence on the development of the local game as have Barclay and Rubenstein.

Barclays Golf in Canada, published in 1992 after years of exhaustive research, is the seminal work on the history of the game in this country. It is an invaluable reference, one that should be in the library of every golfer who hopes to understand the evolution and essential building blocks of the game in Canada. Though not a professional writer by vocation, dreaming about golf from long lost days has been Barclays occupation for most of the past 30 years. Now 81, hes still plugging away at filling the gaps and writing books about our golfing history.

As for Rubenstein, he has been my direct competitor at the Globe and Mail since I began as the National Posts golf columnist in 2003, but his tenure and influence on the game is something I can only aspire to. He started with the Globe in 1980, and is one of the founders behind the creation of ScoreGolf, Canadas national golf magazine. Hes written important books on his experience and love for the grand old game, and worked alongside the likes of George Knudson, Nick Price and David Leadbetter. His work has brought him praise, friends and enemies. It has also made him one of the most recognizable figures in Canadian golf.

Two years ago, I wandered around the final round of the Canadian Open at Glen Abbey with Lorne, watching Weir miss a couple of short putts and lose to Vijay Singh. Walking with Lorne, youd think he was one of the stars on display. I couldnt count the number of people in the crowd who said, Hey, theres Rubenstein, or Hey, Lorne, as he walked by. And it isnt like the man courts this kind of attention; rather, given his writing at the Globe and his work on television, many have simply come to recognize him as the face of Canadian golf. It is an enviable position and one he maintains with class and dignity. Unlike some of his contemporaries in the golf writing business, Rubenstein hasnt gotten bitter and spiteful as hes gotten older. He remains enthusiastic and hopeful about his chosen sport.

Golf scribes have long had a great impact on the game. British writer Bernard Darwins astute prose, most of which was written before World War II, helped foster the interest in links golf that continues to this day. And Herbert Warren Wind documented the explosion of golf after the emergence of Arnold Palmer in the late 1950s. More recently the likes of author John Feinstein, the writer behind A Good Walk Spoiled, Sports Illustrated scribe Michael Bamberger (To the Linksland) and pundit and commentator Geoff Shackelford (The Future of Golf) have continued in the tradition of documenting and discussing the essence of the game of golf.

As one who has spent the last decade covering golf in this country, I see the induction of Rubenstein and Barclay as significant to the development of a golf culture in Canada. These writers have the power to make people excited about the game through nothing more than a few well-crafted, insightful words. As we struggle to interest new players in Ontario and across Canada, we need more writers who can provide much-needed context about the game and can enthrall a new generation.

Every time I write about golf in Canada, Im aware Im working in the shadows of the likes of Rubenstein and Barclay. I may not agree with everything they have written, but that is secondary to respect I have for what they have accomplished and the road they have paved for a younger generation of fellow golf journalists.

Thats the legacy that Barclay and Rubenstein will leave when one day their last putt finally drops.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

6 CommentsLeave a comment

  • As Mary Ann’s brother and “coach” I can definitely state that there aren’t very many athletes as committed to this day at her age and stage of her career as Mary Ann. She sets an example that all aspiring young female players would be wise to follow. Her career speaks for itself but her commitment to the game and her high level of respect and sportsmanship speak volumes.

    Mary Ann is constantly trying to improve and her competitve spirit is second to none. Her dedication to the game and her pride of being Canadian and representing her country are exceptional. To you give you an example of this after she won The USGA Womens Mid-Amateur in 2005 and the schedule came out for the 2006 season she saw that the World Team Championship and the Womens Mid-Am had conflicting dates. She immediately stated that if she made the World Team for Canada she would not defend her title at the Mid-Am. End of story. She made the team and represented her country.

    I am proud and honoured to be her brother first and coach a far second.

    John Hayward
    CPGA Professional

  • a strange decision but both are very deserving. Its probably a great feeling to know that you are in the Hall of Fame and that you still have your best ahead of you like Lorne and Mary Ann have.

    and you too Robert, your 2009 book about Cabot Links will be your best!

  • Both are well-deserved…Congratulations to both…

    Mr.T, if you don’t keep criticising the RCGA, I don’t doubt one day you will be there too…There’s more, given that you are in similar age range as Mike Weir, perhaps you will get there the same time as him…But for starter, you have to write more about golf than business.

  • KC: I think it is far too early in the game to talk about me at all. Gosh, maybe I’ll decide this golf writing gig is for the birds!
    In the meantime, I received a nice note back from Lorne today after offering my congrats. Classy, as expected.

  • Mr Thompson ,
    You should have done more homework concerning Mary Ann.

    Thanks to her brother for enlightening you about her many many accomplishments!

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