John Holzman: Serving With Distinction
Ottawa’s John Holzman is a man of great accomplishment but you wouldn’t guess it by talking with him. The humble man was honoured by Flagstick Golf Magazine in 2009 by having the Ottawa Valley Golf Association Senior Men’s Intersectional Trophy named after him. It was just a small recognition for what he has done for the game of golf, not only in the national capital region, but throughout Canada.
Simply defining himself as the simple son of a shopkeeper, the self-effacing Holzman is a most intriguing character. Now in his 70’s and having had health issues for the last two years, he is still as sharp and witty as ever. He currently serves as the President of the Ottawa Jewish Historical Society, just one of the many ways he has been involved in the community in his lifetime. When we sat down to talk last year at the Ottawa Hunt and Golf club he proved so inquisitive about the world of modern media that I started to wonder who was actually conducting the interview.
In some ways I think he was simply doing what apparently he always has, drawing attention away from himself – not wanting the spotlight.
However, it is tough not to be drawn to him when you examine his involvement in golf for more than 40 years. As a RideauView Country Club member John says at best he was a 5 or 6 handicap but when it came to administering a game he loved he was far better than scratch.
“I enjoyed the administration part of the game,” he told us. “I met the greatest people. Not only the players but the people on the committees, and working in the associations.”
John got his start behind the scenes in golf as the representative of Rideau View in a Centennial golf tournament that took place in July of 1967. The experience of working on that tournament, which involved 2500 players from all area clubs, set him off on an exciting path.
Soon he found his way onto the board to the Province of Quebec Golf Association (QGA) representing the Ottawa District. In 1977 he became a director of the Ottawa District Golf Association, the precursor to the current Ottawa Valley Golf Association (OVGA), and his climb simply went upward after that. He spent 19 years on the Ottawa District Board. He was the 1st President of the newly formed OVGA when it was created in 1981.
“It was a great honour and privilege to be part of that board,” John commented. “We had some great people and I think we were able to do a lot for golf.”
Three years prior to assuming the presidency of the OVGA, John was appointed to the national Board of the Royal Canadian Golf Association (RCGA), a position he would hold for 13 years. In that time he would be director of 10 different tournaments on a national scale. Those that really stand out for him included the Canadian Junior Championship held at his home course in 1976 and the DuMaurier Seniors Championship (a Champions Tour event) at Royal Ottawa in 1984. He was the junior chairman of the Royal Canadian Golf Association in 1983-1984.
Following his key roles among the major golf associations John was able to engage in doing something he says was a highlight of his golf involvement. Appointed as the non-playing Captain of various teams, he says the chance to be in that role and meet so many great people around the world was a thrill. He captained four junior and two men’s teams in the Canadian championships that included standout golfers like Robbie Jackson, Serge Thivierge and Mike Brown.
Especially significant was his captaincy of Canada’s golf team for both men and women at the 1985 and 1989 Maccabiah Games. Those were particularly satisfying as not only did they win gold and silver medals but his son Bill, an accomplished amateur, was part of both teams.
Of course that brings us to John’s children. Although Bill was the big golfer in the family John says his children were always treated equally and respected for their individual accomplishments. In his eyes all are equally important.
As far as support is concerned he gives special mention to his wife and companion Linda Slotin and all she has done for him especially during his health struggles.
“The support I always received from my family was overwhelming,” John says. “It always means so much to me.”
As humble as John Holzman is he could not get away from recognition for his work at the 2009 OVGA Senior Men’s Intersectionals, where he attended to present the trophy bearing his name.
As the top golfers from the region looked on, many of them touched by the work of John through the years, the sentiment was universal. Said one player, “If not for the work of John, golf in the region and beyond would not have been the same for many of us.”
Footnote: Sadly, Mr. John Holzman passed away on December 28th, 2010, just months after this article appeared in Flagstick Golf Magazine.