As a Saskatchewan Roughriders fan, Jack McDonald knows how deep Saskatchewan roots can run.
But even he was "gobsmacked" and "flabbergasted" when he got a phone call in July to announce his induction into the Saskatchewan Golf Hall of Fame.
McDonald, a Kamloops resident, will be inducted into the hall in Saskatoon on Sept. 28. The Rivershore member will be going in as a builder after years of service in the sport, including stints as president of the B.C. Golf Association and the Royal Canadian Golf Association.
"I got the phone call . . . I was gobsmacked, flabbergasted to get any recognition at all, let alone in Saskatchewan," McDonald said. "I haven't lived there since 1969."
That doesn't make it any less an honour.
He is set to leave for Saskatoon on Wednesday, and will spend some time visiting two of his brothers who still live in Saskatchewan - one in Regina, the other in Rosthern, north of Saskatoon.
Although McDonald has been away from his home province for 44 years - the first 10 in Prince George before he moved to Kamloops in 1979 - Saskatchewan hasn't been far from his heart. He has gone back for tournaments throughout the years, and also has lent a hand at rules clinics.
Usually, he and his wife, Ona, would go to the tournaments in Swift Current, their hometown.
"It was easier when our parents were still alive," Jack said. "Since they've passed, it's been harder to get out there."
McDonald started golfing at the Elmwood Golf Club in Swift Current in 1959, when he was 13. He spent the next 10 years there, and spent many summers working on the golf course.
His career took him to Prince George in 1969, and he ended up on the board of directors at the Prince George Golf and Curling Club. In the fall of 1979, the McDonalds moved down to Kamloops, where Jack joined Rivershore before it opened in the spring of 1981.
He joined Rivershore's board of directors and spent 1986-87 as its president.
On the recommendation of a friend, he joined the B.C. Golf Association (now known as B.C. Golf), and became its president in 1996-97.
That same friend - Findlay Young, another former BCGA and RCGA president - got McDonald into the RCGA mix, and McDonald served as its president in 2010.
Among the things that were accomplished under McDonald's tenure was changing the name from RCGA to Golf Canada, as well as implementing the National Golf in Schools program.
"I didn't do anything dramatic or unusual, in my opinion," McDonald said, noting that, in regards to the name change and National Golf in Schools program, "work had been going on for two or three years before I became president."
Throughout all of this, McDonald became known around the world as a top rules official.
So accomplished was McDonald that he has worked five Masters, four British Open and three U.S. Open championships, along with around 10 Canadian Open and six or seven Canadian Women's Open championships.
It was generally smooth sailing for McDonald at such tournaments, but he does recall a dicey situation involving Sandy Lyle a few years back at the British Open. McDonald was the rules official for a group featuring Lyle, Fred Funk and Rory Sabbatini. Lyle hit his ball into a spot in which it wasn't easily identifiable. Before McDonald could tell him the rule about identifying a ball, Lyle "had it in his hand," which is generally a penalty.
Because a designated rules official - in this case, McDonald - didn't tell Lyle the proper technique to identify his ball, Lyle wasn't penalized, and was able to replace his ball.
"My mouth got so dry I could hardly swallow," McDonald said. "It was unnerving . . . but I learned from it."
He must have, as he is one of the best rules officials around. The Saskatchewan Golf Hall of Fame knows it.
"It really is an honour," he said.