OAKVILLE, Ont. - The thought of returning to Glen Abbey Golf Club was Jim Nelford's dream while he lived through a nightmare.
Nelford was seriously injured in a water-skiing accident in 1985 when a boat's propeller sliced one of his arms. Although he recovered, he was never able to regain his top golfing form and eventually lost his spot on the PGA Tour.
"After I had my accident, the doctors told me I would never play the game again and I would have half a right arm," said Nelford, before being inducted into the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame on Friday. "When I was recovering, part of my recovery was trying to think positively, trying to think as positively as I could, but I had many dreams about coming back to play at the Abbey.
"If I could just come back and play the Abbey one more time and get in contention one more time, that was my dream, and it was a recurring dream."
The Vancouver native missed the cut at the 1986 Canadian Open but finished in a tie for 18th the next year.
"The first time I came back after the accident, it was too soon. It was too soon for me to be back on Tour," said Nelford. "The first six months I didn't make a cut, but the PGA Tour basically forced me to take my year as per medical extension. I didn't make a cut for six months, missing by a shot, missing by two shots, but I started to play a little bit better on the weekend."
Nelford was joined in the hall by amateur Alison Murdoch and Jack McLaughlin, honoured posthumously in the builder category.
Nelford won the Canadian amateur championship in 1975 and 1976. He turned pro in 1977, and played on the PGA Tour from 1978 to 1988, where his best finish was second at the 1983 Sea Pines Heritage Classic and at the 1984 Bing Crosby Pro-Am where he lost in a playoff with Hale Irwin.
The memories of the support of the fans at the Canadian Open have always stuck with Nelford, making the Jack Nicklaus-designed course a natural choice for his induction speech.
"Glen Abbey meant so much to me, and being able to play here and compete here and compete well at times and go through the gamut, the missing the cuts and how much it breaks your heart, and you don't know what to do," said Nelford. "You don't know whether to leave town, you don't know whether to sit in your room and cry. It meant so much every time.
"And all the friends that I've made being here and playing in front of people, this was just the spot, and at the Canadian Open this was the spot."