John Bate

Dobber Classic at Cedar Hill Golf Course hits 21st year

Former CFAX 1070 sportscaster Ken Dobson's invitational golf tournament raises funds for Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame

When former CFAX 1070 sportscaster Ken Dobson started an invitational golf tournament, he wanted it to be fun and inexpensive above all else.

Twenty-one years later, the Dobber Classic is sticking to Dobson’s vision with its June 5 tournament at the Cedar Hill Golf Course.

“Dobson was a devoted community-minded person who supported all the amateur sports groups,” says Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame director John Bate, who chaired the Dobber Classic for 20 years before passing on the role. “If anyone asked, he would show up and speak. He was committed that way.”

Ken Dobson (1923 to 1995) was a colourful and much loved sportscaster and sports director at CFAX. After his death, CFAX initiated the Ken Dobson Athletic Scholarship in his memory for graduating grade 12 students who are active in sports.

Before he retired, Bate managed the old Memorial Arena and was the director of Parks and Recreation at the City of Victoria. His family lived in Saanich, two doors down from Dobson’s family.

“We got to know Ken quite well and really see what he was about,” Bate says.

While the tournament entry price has slowly grown – it’s up to $110 per person – Bate points to the loyalty of the tournament players and the number of goodies that come with each registration including tickets to the Victoria Shamrocks, Victoria Royals and UVic Vikes, among other items.

“This is one of our two annual fundraisers and it’s a big deal to us, as our goal is to produce a new display (for the Hall of Fame) at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre each year, usually on that year’s inductees,” he says.

“The tournament still a great deal for what you get. You don’t find golf tournaments as fun as this where you come out with as many sponsored gifts for the price.”

And the same players keep coming back each year, Bate adds. Organizers see a return rate of about 85 to 90 per cent from the previous year.

“It’s an annual reunion with a core of players who’ve been coming out since it started,” he says. “Even the foursomes are the same, slowly changing one player at a time.”

Among the big draws is an impressive sports auction with autographed Vancouver Canucks sticks and Toronto Maple Leafs memorabilia, as well as a prized Jose Bautista bat, signed by the Toronto Blue Jays slugger.

It’s safe to say a bat like that would fetch an auction price in the thousands of dollars in Vancouver.

“Sometimes we need to remind ourselves there are other perks of being in Victoria. Though, all it takes is two bidders,” Bate says wryly.

Registration is open now for the 2015 Dobber Golf Classic. The entry fee includes golf, roast beef buffet dinner and a quality prize for every golfer.

To register, visit gvshof.ca or raceonline.ca/events/details/?id=921.

reporter@saanichnews.com

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