Jim Rollefson punched his ticket to the 2017 U.S.
Senior by medaling at the Cedarburg, WI qualifier
By John Werner
Editor's note: John is a long-time friend of Dr. Jim Rollefson and a fellow member at Pelican's Nest Golf Club in Bonita Springs, FL. We thank him for submitting his article to us.
This is a walk with Dr. Jim Rollefson
, or “Rollie”, as many of us have come to know him. Jim is a country gentleman, who has enjoyed a love affair with our beloved game of golf. On August 2 Jim qualified for the U.S. Senior Amateur Championship
at Hidden Glen Golf Club in Cedarburg, WI. This feat is hard enough in and of itself, but Jim did it at the age of 68, three weeks prior to his 69th birthday. Of course just qualifying was not good enough; Jim was the medalist, by winning the first playoff hole with a birdie.
Jim has now made it to five United States Golf Association championships. More impressively, he first qualified for one of our national championships at the age of 51. So how did he get here? Was it his father pushing him as a youth, or having a stellar high school and college career? It was neither of these.
In the video below, Jim Rollefson discusses the importance of the mental game, and what he has learned from Dr. Bob Rotella
Jim picked up a golf club for the first time at the age of 28. He did so as a means to facilitate his competitive nature which came from a career in semi-professional baseball. He needed to fill a void, and a friend asked him to join him for a round of golf. As a nationally-renowned pediatric dentist, Jim had multiple opportunities to play in charity golf outings, but felt that he was not “good enough” to play with his friends. He decided to join Tuckaway Country Club 1982, which was the former home to the PGA Tour's Greater Milwaukee Open.
Like many of us just starting out, he was a 23 handicap. Of course this was simply not good enough for Jim, so he went on a quest to locate a golf academy in order to get better. Naturally this was not an easy task since Jim was a full-time husband and father to his three sons. Additionally, he operated one of the top pediatric dental practices in the country. Couple these duties with the minuscule Wisconsin summers, and there was not much time to achieve success.
So how did he do it? He forced himself to read, practice and play in local tournaments. Of course he lost, and many times, but defeat in an early amateur career became the fuel necessary to propel him to become the #1 ranked Super Senior in the nation in 2014. Jim’s resume is long, but in this story I wanted to focus on his national as well as his international record.
In 1999, at the age of 51, Jim qualified for the U.S. Mid-Amateur
, contested at Old Warson Country Club in St. Louis, MO. Another amazing accomplishment considering most of the field was half his age! Between 2006 and 2016, Jim was a USGA championship alternate seven times. In 2007 at the age of 58, he qualified for the pinnacle of senior professional golf, the U.S. Senior Open
. The icing on the cake was that the venue for the tournament was at Whistling Straits in Kohler, WI. His fellow Wisconsinites came out in droves to support their native son competing against the world's best on the toughest stage in senior golf. Jim was one of only 25 amateurs to qualify and play in the event. Although he did not play the weekend, that tournament is certainly cemented in his memories as one of the best of his life.
Because Jim qualified for the U.S. Senior Open as an amateur, he received a two-year exemption into the British Senior Amateur
. In 2008 Jim crossed the pond to County Kent where he competed in his first links-style international amateur competition at Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club
. This initial exposure to the ruthless conditions by Straits of Dover would pay off later in his career. He continued to refine his game and played again in 2009, 2014, 2015, and 2016. The highlight came in 2015 at Royal County Down
, where Jim won the Super Senior division and placed fourth in the overall tournament as a 66-year-old.
Jim has maintained his focus on USGA championships, where he has qualified for the U.S. Senior Amateur in 2012, 2013, and again this year at the age of 68. Other highlights include holding the amateur course record at his home course in Wisconsin with a 65, winning the Men’s Club Championship at Tuckaway Country Club four times, and winning the Senior Club Championship a record 13 times! He has also won the Senior Club Championship at Pelican’s Nest 3 of the past 4 years and is our current defending champion.
Jim is one of us, a dew sweeper of sorts that is on the eternal quest to simply get better. When you see our ole pal “Rollie” at the rock pile or in the 19th hole, give this 5’8”, 150 pound, 69-years-young firecracker a high five! He carries the competitive torch that we all have inside of us and I for one am proud the he represents Pelican’s Nest Golf Club with such a distinguished resume.