Harry Neal commissioned the design of Roseland Golf and Country Club. He is best remembered for inaugurating the Essex-Kent Boys’ Golf Tournament.
Neal was born on October 9, 1883 in Morpeth, Ontario, just outside of Blenheim. He passed away on September 25, 1961 in Windsor.
Neal dabbled in politics and worked in baking during his life, but sports – particularly baseball and golf – were his true love. Outside of athletics, Neal was appointed president of his family’s Windsor-based Neal Baking Company in 1915.
In 1926, Neal invited Donald Ross — the most sought-after golf architect in the world — to design a course in Windsor on the Roseland Park property. Ross agreed, and the course at Roseland Park Country Club was born. Two years later, Neal teamed up with Clarence Smith and others to hold the inaugural Essex-Kent Boys’ Golf Tournament. Neal’s youngest son, Frederick (more commonly known as “Shin”), went on to win two consecutive titles in ’33 and ’34.
Unfortunately, bondholders took the Roseland property from Neal in 1933, at the bottom of the Great Depression. The course ended up in the hands of Bob Williamson, who would himself become an important member of the Essex-Kent Tournament organization.
By 1938, the Essex-Kent Boys’ Golf Tournament was hanging on for dear life; it moved to the nine-hold course at Dominion. In ’42, in the wake of the losses suffered by our Essex Scottish Regiment at Dieppe, only 48 boys competed for top honours. Nevertheless, the Tournament was held consistently during wartime, unlike many area activities. Neal held the competition together with assistance from Nick White, Bill Bruce, Cy Higgins, and a handful of other gentlemen whose names time has forgotten. We do know that the Windsor Star also played a significant role in keeping the tournament alive. Neal had carefully nurtured an association with the newspaper through a succession of sports editors and golf writers.
Many of this area’s finest golfers started their competitive careers at the Essex-Kent Boys’ Golf Tournament, including Nick Panisiuk, Tony Ouellette, Nick Weslock, Rudy Horvath, and Bob Panasik.
Amongst tournaments of its kind, the Essex-Kent Boys’ Golf Tournament remains in a league of its own. For a time, the Tournament garnered attention even outside of Canada. It serves as a lasting tribute to Harry Neal.