|Sandy Somerville was a member of Varsity Blues championship teams in three sports: Football(1921), Hockey(1921-22) and Golf(1924). He played on the Blues for three seasons in both Football(1921, 1922, 1924) and Hockey(1921-2, 1922-3, 1923-4).Somerville is best known as one of Canada’s greatest golfers, as he won six Canadian amateur titles between 1926 and 1939, and in 1932 he was the first Canadian to win the U.S. Amateur title. He won two Canadian Seniors titles and was President of the Royal Canadian Golf Association in 1957. He was selected the 1932 Canadian Press Athlete of the Year and in 1950 was named the CP Golfer of the Half-Century. He was also one of Canada’s top cricket players and set the highest score in school cricket of 212 runs, not out.Somerville is a member of the RCGA Hall of Fame and the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame. A retired life insurance executive, he lived in his hometown of London, Ontario.
The following from our Masters’ Week tribute to Mr. Somerville:
Who among our distinguished inductees displayed humility, ability, and achievement more than golfing great and inaugural inductee, Charles Ross “Sandy” Somerville?
After Somerville’s victory at the United States Amateur Golf Championship in 1932, the great Bobby Jones, also known for his class, wrote in the Mail and Empire (predecessor of the Glove and Mail) “I believe that for the championship to be won by someone other than an American is a good thing. Particularly is this true when the winner is a fine golfer and sportsman like Sandy Somerville.”
A London native and legendary member of the London Hunt and Country Club, Somerville was an outstanding all-round athlete. He was considered Canada’s finest cricket player, he played football and hockey at Ridley College and the University of Toronto. His poke check was considered the finest anyone had seen, good enough to earn tryout offers from the best professional hockey teams of the day, including from Conn Smythe, the historic founder of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Maple Leaf Gardens.
In 1950, Somerville was named Canada’s “Golfer of the Half Century” spotlighting the significance of his 1932 U.S. Amateur victory but also noting his six Canadian Amateur titles in an eight year period, 1926-1934.
His friendship with Jones dated back to 1930, the year the American great won golf’s Grand Slam, the U.S. Amateur and Open and the British Amateur and Open. In the first round of the U.S. championship, Jones faced Somerville, saying later that the match was the one he worried about most. Somerville was also among the first players invited by Jones to play Augusta National, the club he co-founded. In 1934, Somerville was in the starting lineup at the Augusta National Invitation, later to be known as The Masters. In fact, Somerville’s name still graces the Masters’ media book and historical perspective as recording the first hole-in-one at the famed tournament.
All of the above provides the ability and achievement portion of this piece but, perhaps, the Canadian, the Royal Canadian Golf Association, and the London Sports Halls of Fame member’s most memorable characteristic is the humble nature he displayed throughout his life. His friend and fellow London Sports Hall of Fame inductee Ed Ervasti said, at the time of Somervllle’s death in 1988, that his best memories of Somerville are his peaceful nature, his dry wit, and his quiet, ever-the-gentleman, demeanor in and out of golf.
Speaking to golf writer, Lorne Rubenstein, Ervasti recalled an incident that showed his friend’s quick wit. “A lady was standing near him and she said to her friend that she bet she could get Sandy to say three words. Well, Sandy overheard her and he turned to her and said, ‘you lose.’” He loved to play golf but he was not one to talk about it, preferring to separate discussion off the course from his or his partners’ play on it.
As Rubenstein wrote, “Somerville didn’t talk much. He merely played the game surpassingly well and kindly. His family, friends and fellow competitors remember him as a man of the highest integrity. Sandy Somerville will remain an ideal model for anybody who seeks the highest levels of the game.”
Sandy Somerville, the epitome of humility, ability, and achievement, the qualities of a great champion and gentleman, all proudly recognized by the London Sports Hall of Fame.
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