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Member Spotlight: TSN Host James Duthie

23 FEB 2016

Words by Adam Stanley

It’s after midnight on a Thursday in November, and TSN’s James Duthie is sitting with most of the crew from the network after broadcasting an Ottawa Senators overtime victory in the lobby bar at the Westin hotel, a stone’s throw from the Byward Market.

An unseasonably warm day in Canada’s capital, the conversation quickly turns to golf.

“I fell back in love with golf this year,” Duthie says, as the crew continues on topics like Jordan Spieth’s reign, Dustin Johnson (and the obvious hockey connection), and the Masters – a tournament Duthie has covered a number of times, including once where he had a… serendipitous… encounter with Tiger Woods at a urinal.

He attributes his renewed passion for the game to his ClubLink membership.

After having three kids in four years – a son Jared (16) and two daughters, Gracie (12) and Darian (14) – Duthie says he basically “stopped playing” when they were younger.

“I’d play my own ball three or four times, and then play six tournaments a year. It was like that for 10 or 12 years,” Duthie explains. “I still liked golf, but I think my love for it waned a bit.”

With his kids now older, Duthie says he joined ClubLink with the purpose of committing himself to golf again and playing more.

Living in Aurora, the 49-year-old’s home club is King’s Riding. He found he headed to the course a lot this year not just to play, but to practice, and enjoy a few holes with his son.

“This year I started walking again, and I was enjoying those walks,” explains Duthie.  “Even when I had a (bad) round, I was just really enjoying my time back out on the golf course. I was meeting new people, meeting members, just going there to the course was great.”

The longtime host of TSN’s hockey coverage, Duthie began his career working at CJOH – a local news outlet in Ottawa. After getting his career started, Duthie moved to Vancouver in 1998, where he worked at VTV as a news and sports reporter, before getting hired by TSN.

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Other than his hockey hosting duties, Duthie has also hosted Sportscentre, TSN’s CFL and NBA coverage, and was a mainstay during TSN’s Olympics coverage, winning three Gemini Awards along the way.

All the while, Duthie was a golfer. True to his storytelling nature – he just released his third book, titled “The Guy on the Left” a biography of sorts, outlining Duthie’s career in sports broadcasting (and including that Tiger Woods/urinal anecdote) – the way Duthie started playing the game is a story in itself.

“My love of golf was born at Innes Road Mini-Golf in Ottawa,” Duthie recalls. “That’s where me and my buddy Mark Ward would go, and spend our entire summers. His parents would drop us off there, and we’d spend six hours playing entire tournaments of mini-golf, have a milkshake and a hamburger, and then hit balls on the range. That was my first four or five years of golf … I never played on a golf course.”

Once Duthie grew out of his mini-putt phase, he started to play at a municipal course called Pineview in a way most people certainly do not: by breaking the law.

“I shouldn’t admit this, but I will,” Duthie says with a laugh. “I’d wake up before light and Mark and I would take the bus to Pineview and sit on the first tee until the sun came up, and then we’d tee off.”

Duthie explains that 18th hole at the course is not close to the pro-shop, so if they were able to get through nine holes before anyone would show up, they wouldn’t pay.

“For about two summers, we went to Pineview and didn’t pay. We didn’t have any money to play golf, so we figured it was no harm no foul, going on there before anybody else was there.

“They probably knew, frankly,” Duthie concludes. “We were two little punks and the greenskeepers were always around. But, we’d play 18 and go right back to the bus.”

With his ClubLink membership, the passion for golf Duthie had as a law-breaking youngster has returned — and he couldn’t be happier.