If that big, old polar vortex that is engulfing a huge chunk of North America has you wanting to hibernate, imagine what it’s like for somebody caught in an icy grip after arriving from a Caribbean nation.
The scene that comes to mind is one from the movie Cool Runnings, when the Jamaican bobsled team arrived in Calgary, the same city where Stephen Ames, originally from Trinidad and Tobago, now calls home. His reaction was very similar to the shivering Jamaicans.
“We were living in the basement of my mother-in-law’s house,” said Ames, recalling back to 1991 when he says wind chills were reaching -55 C. “I never left the house, let’s put it that way.”
Ames is leaving the house these days despite the chilly temperatures. He’s got businesses. He’s getting a golf course started that one day may host an RBC Canadian Open.
He’s involved with the Shaw Charity Classic on the Champions Tour and junior golf through the Stephen Ames Cup. His Stephen Ames Foundation is also involved in children’s charities, hospitals and hospital foundations.
As strong as winter’s icy grip these days is the embrace that Ames has put on life in Canada, where he was named on Wednesday as the lone 2014 inductee into the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame, an honour that he calls a highlight of his career.
“It was important for quite a few reasons,” said Ames, who became a citizen in 2003.
“One, my wife (Jodi) is from there. My kids are born Canadian, as well. It wouldn’t have sounded right that dad’s from Trinidad-Tobago, we’re from Canada, so the opportunity to become a Canadian was a factor in that,” said Ames.
“Being away from home, with the schedule that all professional golfers have, it made sense living in Calgary, for Jodi to have help with the growing up of the boys and having help from her mom and dad and her sisters who all live there,” he added.
“Winter’s obviously not my favourite time of the year, but I’ve made the most of it, got myself involved in other things and during the wintertime, those things tend to keep me a little busy or occupied and not thinking about the green grass and hitting golf balls down in Florida,” said Ames.
“Overall, I think I’ve done a pretty good transition from Caribbean life to Canadian life,” he added.
Indeed, he has. Ames has the playing credentials to justify his Canadian Golf Hall of Fame nomination after a PGA Tour career that included four wins, including the prestigious Players Championship in 2006. For more on Ames’ career, click here.
As much he’s demonstrated his devotion to Canada, his devotion to family is even more glaring.
As he did so often in his career, Ames sent the media into a tizzy after his memorable performance at the 2006 Players Championship, where the rest of the field fell back and he won by six shots.
Afterwards, he told the media that he would have to check with Jodi, who had been diagnosed with lung cancer the previous year, before committing to the Masters, which was just a couple of weeks later.
His family was scheduled to go to Trinidad on vacation, so Ames was stressing that he needed to check, but family values were overlooked and the media went into a tizzy that he may not be at Augusta. After the family meeting, Ames did play at the Masters.
That, however, wouldn’t be the first time Ames caused a stir through the media. Earlier that year, he said he might have a shot in match play against Tiger Woods who, according to Ames, was spraying the ball all over off the tee.
Ames was absolutely correct, but the media jumped on it, Tiger didn’t like it and beat Ames 9-and-8, a numerical nickname that followed Ames for years afterwards.
It was a colourful and solid career that is in transition once again, not between countries, but between tours. Ames turns 50 at the end of April, which means he can spend time on both the PGA Tour and Champions Tour, even if a solid schedule has not yet been put together.
“I still see myself as a player,” said Ames, pointing to Champions Tour players such as Hale Irwin and Bernhard Langer as proof that the senior circuit is competitive.
“Golf is golf still. The 19th hole might be a little different. The guys are definitely a little bit more relaxed after a round of golf. I think the camaraderie is going to be a little lighter, which is fantastic,” he said.
Ames won’t have to hide indoors to stay warm during this transition as he when he moved to Canada. Both the camaraderie and the surroundings should make the move to the Champions Tour that much warmer in much the same way as his Canadian Golf Hall of Fame nomination did on Wednesday.