The Jim Rollefson Story
By John Werner
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, 2017 Jim qualified for the United States Senior Amateur Championship at Hidden Glen Golf Club in Cedarburg Wisconsin. This feat in and of itself is nearly impossible, 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.
As we all know golf is a game of skill and a little luck now and again. Luck can happen when an errant drive smashes into a tree, and suddenly pops back in the middle of the fairway. This was not the case for Dr. Rollefson. Jim has made it to the top of the mountain not once, but 5 times in United States Golf Association championships. Unbelievably, he first qualified for one of our national championships at the young age of 51. How is this even possible? Was it his father pushing him as a youth, or a stellar high school and college career? It was neither of these. 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 wonderful 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 Tours' Greater Milwaukee Open. Just like all of us started out, he was a 23 plus handicap. Of course this was simply not good enough, so he went on a quest to locate a golf academy in order to get better. Does this sound familiar? I think most of us have been in this situation. Naturally this was not an easy task since Jim was a full time husband and father to his 3 sons. Additionally, he operated one of the top Pediatric dental practices in the country. Couple these duties with the minuscule Wisconsin summers, and as you can see, 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 jet fuel necessary to propel him to rising to become the #1 ranked Super Senior Amateur in the Nation in 2014, (per golf weeks rankings). Jim's resume is long, but I wanted to focus on this story on his National as well as his International record.
In 1999, at the age of 51, Jim qualified for the United States Mid-Amateur, contested at Old Warson Country Club in St. Loius, Missouri. Another unbelievable accomplishment considering most of the entire field was ½ his age! Between 2006-2016, Jim became an alternate in a USGA championship another 7 times. In 2007, at the age of 58 he qualified for the pinnacle of senior professional golf, The United States Senior Open. The icing on the cake was that the venue for the tournament was at Whistling Straits in Kohler Wisconsin. Without question Wisconsinites came out in droves to support their native son competing against the worlds' best on the toughest stage in Senior competitive golf that year. Jim was one of only 25 amateurs in the world to qualify and play in this event mainly reserved for professionals. Although he did not play the weekend, this tournament is certainly cemented in his archives of memories as one of the best in 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 Open in the U.K. 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 that the Straits of Dover have to offer on its challengers would pay off later in his career. He continued to refine his game and played again in the 2009, 2014, 2015, and 2016 British Senior Amateur Opens. The highlight came in 2015 at Royal County Down, where Jim won the Senior Amateur Open (65 and older division) and placed fourth in the 55 and older division as a 66 year old contestant.
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. Some additional highlights to Jim's amazing career are he holds the amateur course record at his home course in Wisconsin where he shot a 65. He has won the Men's club Championship at Tuckaway C.C. 4 times and the Senior Club Championship a record 13 times! Additionally, he has 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 stepper 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, 68 year young fire cracker a high 5! He carries the competitive torch that we all have inside of us to each tournament and I for one am proud the he represents Pelican's Nest Golf Club with such a distinguished resume. You can follow this year's U.S. Senior Amateur at The Minikahda Club in Minnesota August 26-31 @ WWW.USGA.ORG and click on the link for all of the scores. Best of luck Jim, Pelican's Nest Golf Club and Tuckaway Country Club are pulling for you!!!
Revised: 08/23/2017 - Article Viewed 1,743 Times