Canadian Junior Boys Championship
Ahead by a century
How Canadian golfer Gary Cowan went from junior caddy to legendary champion
Published on Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012 02:48PM EDT
Gary Cowan may have been named the Top Canadian Male Golfer of the 20th Century, but as a nine-year-old, he started out hunting for golf balls and selling them for a quick buck. When he sold the balls to pros at his local course, he says he felt like he had won.
His future would hold many more wins. After moving from hunting golf balls to caddying, Cowan received lessons and morphed into one of the top junior golfers in Canada. In 1956, at the age of 17, he won the Canadian Junior Boys Championship.
“When you’re a kid and can win the Canadian Junior, that’s pretty good, but then you have to move on from there and continue to the next level,” says Cowan, who did just that.
Five years after his win at the Junior Boys Championship, he won the Canadian Men’s Amateur Championship. Another five years after that win, Cowan won the 1966 United States Amateur Championship. He would go on to win the U.S. Amateur again in 1971, making him one of only two Canadians to win the Championship. He remains the only player to win the U.S. Amateur twice at stroke play.
Despite his successes as an amateur, Kitchener, Ont. native Cowan resisted the urge to turn professional until he was 52-years-old. He then played on the Seniors PGA Tour (now the Champions Tour) for a few years, achieving three top-10 finishes.
In 1967, Cowan was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, and became a member of the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame in 1972.
Looking back on his first national win at the Canadian Junior Boys Championship, Cowan says it was that tournament that set him up for the illustrious golf career of his future.
“It was the start,” says Cowan. “I went on to be a pretty good golfer for most of my life.” He was later named the Top Canadian Male Golfer of the 20th Century by the Royal Canadian Golf Association (RCGA) in 2000, and continues to play several times a week.
The Canadian Junior Boys Championship was first played in 1938 and several winners of the event have gone on to become members of the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame. The tournament is open to male amateur golfers who have not reached their 19th birthday by the last scheduled day of the Championship.
Cowan says his advice to junior golf competitors is to trust themselves.
“The best advice I could give would be to decide what you want to do golf-wise, and then if you want to proceed further, work as hard as you can on your game by yourself, with help from a teacher,” says Cowan.
“Don’t look for someone else to help you, because they’re not going to help you. They’ll be there, but you have to go and work it out on your own.”
This year’s Canadian Junior Boys Championship took place at Osprey Ridge Golf Club in Bridgewater, N.S. from July 31-August 3. Adam Svensson of Surrey, B.C. won the event by two shots with a 1-under par 283.