The Men's Triple Crown Still Not Conquered
At the height of Golf Québec's competitive season, we present to you the history of the three tournaments that make up the men's Triple Crown: the Men's Provincial Amateur Championship, the Duke of Kent and the Alexander of Tunis.
Strangely enough, since the introduction of the Triple Crown in 1950 with the inception of the Tunis, no player has ever won all three tournaments in the same year. However, nine of them have won all three trophies in their careers. The most prolific Triple Crown winners include Graham Cooke (Summerlea; 13), Robbie Jackson (Royal Montreal; 7), Lee Curry (Rideau View; 6), Pierre Archambault (Laval-sur-le-Lac/Kanawaki; 5), Steve Davies (Royal Montreal; 5) and Yves Tremblay (Sorel-Tracy; 5).
The Amateur Championship
As reported in a previous column, the first province-wide amateur championship was held on June 19, 1920, at the Country Club of Montréal and was won by T. B. Reith of Beaconsfield with rounds of 80 and 76.
Since then, three players have won the event four times: Graham Cooke, Steve Davies and Tom Riddell (Beaconsfield), the latter during the period when the championship was contested as a match play tournament between 1936 and 1965. It should be noted, however, that the event had to be cancelled between 1941 and 1945 due to the Second World War.
It was the Royal Montreal Golf Club that had the honour of hosting the tournament most often with nine presentations. It was also the club with the most members winning the tournament, 16 times.
In the 100th edition of the event in 2017, we also witnessed the victory of the youngest champion in history as Summerlea's Christopher Vandette took the title at -7 after four days of intense competition. He was only 15 years old at the time.
In 2020, due to the pandemic, the event exceptionally took place over two rounds, as it did between 1920 and 1935 and in 2007 (rain). The young Malik Dao (Summerlea), at only 16 years of age, took the opportunity to set the two-round tournament record with scores of 70 and 67 for a combined -7 in Lachute. In 2019, Julien Sale (Rivermead) broke the record for four rounds with a cumulative score of 264 (-24) on the Beauceville course.
The Duke of Kent Tournament
On June 23, 1934, Kent Golf Links and its professional Jules Huot held the first major invitational tournament in the Québec City area under the umbrella of the Québec Provincial Golf Association. The course was adjacent to Montmorency Falls and a hotel named Kent House in honour of the Duke of Kent Edward August, the father of Queen Victoria and fourth son of King George III. The Duke of Kent had stayed there between 1791 and 1794 when he commanded British troops in the area.
Participants in the tournament could opt for boat transportation between Montréal and Québec City with dinner on board on Friday evening and breakfast on Saturday morning, followed by bus transportation to the course for 36 holes of golf followed by dinner at Kent House. Another round on Sunday morning was held before returning to Montréal on Monday morning, all for a 15-dollar package and a busy weekend. This first edition was won by Gordon B. Taylor of the Kanawaki Golf Club with rounds of 73 and 78.
It was not until March 8, 1935, that the Duke of Kent Trophy was presented by the newly appointed Duke, Prince George, the fourth son of King George V and Queen Mary. On Saturday, June 22, 1935, Gordon B. Taylor repeated his feat of the previous year by raising the new trophy with a cumulative score of 159 on a rainy day that still attracted 100 players, 60% of whom had a handicap of less than 15. In 1942, the Trophy ended up at the Royal Québec Golf Club, its permanent home ever since.
Graham Cooke has set a mark that will be hard to beat by winning the precious Duke of Kent Trophy five times. No one else has come close to that record, except André Gagné, a member of the host club, with three titles to his credit, the last one in 1979, and Mickey Batten (BeauChâteau).
The Duke of Kent's lowest score is 134 (70-64) strokes over two rounds and was achieved by Mathieu Perron of Club Laval-sur-le-Lac in 2013 when he finished his last dream round with a 7-under par for the last six holes.
In honour of André Gagné, a member of the Royal Québec Golf Club who participated in the event 55 consecutive times in his amateur career and was inducted into the Québec Golf Hall of Fame in 2016, the André Gagné Trophy is awarded to the best player coming from the Québec City area in the Duke of Kent Tournament.
The Alexander of Tunis Tournament
An additional provincial championship was scheduled in 1950 by the Province of Québec Golf Association to complement the existing Provincial Amateur Championship and the Duke of Kent Tournament.
Of specific importance to the Ottawa District of the PQGA, this championship was scheduled to be held in the Ottawa District and to be played at the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club, the Rivermead Golf Club and the Royal Ottawa Golf Club on a rotation basis.
In 1950, the Governor General of Canada, Lord Alexander of Tunis, responded to a petition from Stuart Wotherspoon, President of the Royal Ottawa Golf Club, and graciously agreed to become patron of this amateur tournament in order to promote the game of golf in Ottawa. In the intervening years, many prominent amateurs from the local area and throughout the province of Québec have participated in the event.
The first Alexander of Tunis Tournament was held at the Royal Ottawa Golf Club on Saturday, August 3, 1950. Bob Hall of the Summerlea Golf and Country Club was the initial champion of the Tunis with his one day, two-round total score of 147. Holley Greaves of the Ottawa Hunt & Golf Club finished in second place three strokes back of the champion.
The Alexander of Tunis Tournament more commonly referred to as the "Tunis" continues to this day with the only change being to the number of OVGA Clubs hosting the Tunis in the rotation. The Camelot Golf & Country Club joined the rotation in 2013 and Rideau View hosted in 2014.
Multiple winners of the event include local talents Mike Brown (Chaudière; 3), Lee Curry (Rideau View; 3), Glen Seely (Rivermead; 3), Bob Stimpson (Chaudière/Ottawa Hunt; 3), Don Cordukes (Ottawa Hunt; 2), Bill Holzman (Rideau View/Rivermead; 2) and Chris McCuaig (Ottawa Hunt; 2).
The record of four wins is shared by renown golf architect who was inducted in the Québec Golf Hall of Fame in 2008, Graham Cooke (Summerlea), and Robbie Jackson (Royal Montreal) who was dominating Québec amateur golf in the 1970s and won the event four times in a row from 1973 to 1976.
Rivermead’s phenom Julien Sale is seriously working on this streak having won the last two editions while setting the tournament record of 133 with rounds of 66 and 67 at Rideau View in 2019.
Strangely, because of the sanitary situation prevailing, 2020 will be the first time in their history that the Tunis and the Duke of Kent will be competed over 18 holes only.
Joe McLean, special collaboration