We should all be so lucky

One of Canada’s most enduring golf stories came to an end a couple of weeks ago. You may be one of the thousands of people who knew, or knew all about, Ed Ervasti. But if you’re not familiar with that name, you’ll be impressed, delighted, saddened, and possibly angered by the following paragraphs.

First, the sad part… Ed Ervasti died on Monday, May 11. He was 101 years old. Now, you may say that it’s not sad that someone that age finally expired, and you’d be 99% correct. But Ed Ervasti was a remarkable human specimen, first of all, and the really sad part is that every time he set foot on a golf course, he was prolonging his own unofficial world record.

Here’s the impressive part… Ed shot his age or better – usually much better – more than 3,000 times in his life, and pretty much every time he played. It’s unknown, but highly doubtful that anyone has ever come close to that record of achievement. Ed used to joke “When I can’t beat my age, I’ll stop playing.” He never stopped playing.

Ed was born in Minnesota in 1914, and moved to London, Ontario at age 51, because of business. He quickly became an integral part of the remarkable community of first rank golfers from London, whose names have included Sandy Somerville, Jack Nash, Kelly Roberts, Ian Thomas and many others. It would take way more space than I’m allotted to list the remarkable golf achievements of this man. But here are just a few…

Ed won at least 60 golf championship titles in Canada and the U.S., including: six Canadian Senior Golf Association Championship titles; Canadian Senior Amateur Champion; Ontario Senior Amateur Champion; four London Hunt men’s club championship titles; and 17 London Hunt Senior Invitational Championship titles from 1967 to 1993. He won the 1949 Michigan State Amateur, and the 1978 and ’83 North and South Seniors in Pinehurst… a tournament that ranks just below the U.S. Senior Amateur in prestige.

Delightful? At age 93, Ed shot 72 at Sunningdale, one of his home courses in London… hardly a pitch-and-putt layout. When he was 85, he won another club’s senior championship with a similar 72. As Lorne Rubenstein wrote in an article about Ed a couple of years ago, “There’s a good possibility (Ed) Ervasti has been the best very old golfer who has ever lived.”

Life was as good to Ed as Ed was good at golf, and he was a lucky man. He was financially comfortable, a member of several golf clubs, had a place near Jupiter, Florida, and for much of his life he was able to play golf almost every day. And he was good enough, and well-connected enough, to have played with most of the great players of his lifetime: Hogan, Nelson, Boros, Palmer and Nicklaus, to name the most prominent.

On a personal note, I’ve been fortunate to have met many of Canada’s finest amateur golfers over the years, including Somerville, Nash, Nick Weslock, Moe Norman, Ada Mackenzie, and Marlene Streit. Just shaking hands with these players is memorable for me, because I can only dream about being a really good player, much less a champion. But I never had the pleasure of meeting Ed Ervasti, despite many visits to London Hunt, Ed’s primary home club, and I now regret not having sought him out, just so I can say I did shake the hand of a Canadian legend.

Ed was rightly celebrated for his prowess and his good sportsmanship. He was a member of the London Sports Hall of Fame, the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame, and the Ontario Golf Hall of Fame.

But here’s the part that angers me, and maybe you, too. There’s probably only one achievement that’s missing in Ed Ervasti’s golf CV. Early last year, Ed was nominated for induction in the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame – a notoriously slow and difficult place to get elected into, for no reason that I can explain. If ever there was a deserving honoree, it was Ed Ervasti. But, in their presumed wisdom, the Selection Committee elected no one this past year.

While it’s never too late to right a wrong, or reverse a slight, it’s a shame that the Committee chose to ignore a man whose days were surely numbered, whose credentials are surely worthy, and whose achievements surely deserve recognition. Unfortunately, Ed himself was not given the honour of feeling the pride and joy of being enshrined in the national Hall with so many of his peers.

Let’s hope that changes. Soon.

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