Becoming a Canadian citizen in December 2003 was quite an honour for Trinidadian Stephen Ames.
Being inducted into the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame last week might have surpassed that distinction in that he became the first West Indian-born to join 73 others in the country’s golf pantheon since its establishment in 1971.
“The Canadian Golf Hall of Fame seeks to recognize excellence as golfers, contributors and supporters of the game,” said selection committee chair Ian Clarke. “Stephen Ames has excelled on the biggest stage in our sport and it’s fitting that he will be recognized for his respective accomplishments.”
The Calgary resident said entering the Hall is one of the exceptional highlights of his career.
“As a proud Canadian, I am humbled by this great honour,” he said. “The opportunity to join the exceptional company of names means a great deal to me.”
A dual citizen of Canada and Trinidad & Tobago, Ames made his competition debut in the Caribbean Hoerman Cup tournament in 1980 at age 16 in Barbados where he smashed the course record with a six-under par total of 66. He launched his professional career in 1987 and captured the Trinidad & Tobago Open two years later.
“Growing up in Trinidad & Tobago, I never could have imagined my boyhood dream (of playing golf) would lead me to stand before you here today,” he said. “It has been a long journey, a lot of hours, a lot of miles, a lot of back pains, a lot of learning and a lot of fun. I look forward to continuing to do what I can to support the great game of golf in Canada. This is a proud day for me.”
Ames won his first professional tournament in 1991 and his first Professional Golf Association (PGA) tour event a decade ago, disposing of Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh and Davis Love in the Cialis Western Open.
To date, he has posted four PGA victories and earned nearly $20 million. Once ranked 27th in the world after clinching The Players Championship by six strokes over Retief Goosen in 2006, Ames has finished inside the Top-10 on six occasions in a major championship play.
In 2004, he established the Stephen Ames Foundation that sponsored the inaugural Stephen Ames Cup – a Ryder Cup-style tournament — a year later at the Granite Golf Club in Durham.
A total of eight young T & T golfers, ranging in age from 11-19, competed against Canadians in four-ball, foursome and singles matches over two days. In May 2005, he hosted Trinidadians Ben Martin and Simon Merry at Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Invitational tournament in Orlando. He bought equipment for the young players while exposing them to the sport at the highest level during the one-week trip.
‘This is my way of giving back to junior golf by providing young Trinidad & Tobago golfers with the opportunity to play on well-conditioned courses and also meet new friends,” he said at the time.
In 2004, Ames was the recipient of the Chaconia medal (gold), Trinidad & Tobago’s second highest honour.