If you check out the previous blog, you’ll read about Gar Hamilton’s experiences with the late Seve Ballesteros, whose personality and talent enthralled the longtime Mississaugua Golf and Country Club head professional in his limited exposure to the Spanish star.
Due to the tragic circumstances that surrounded the posting of that blog, I was forced to go back to Hamilton at an inopportune time to discuss the passing of somebody closer to him, a close friend for about 50 years.
The personable Ken Trowbridge, as we understand, had recently been diagnosed with liver cancer and was in hospital to discuss treatment options when his heart stopped. He was 63 and leaves behind his wife Mary Jane and daughters Jamie and Courtney.
Recently, a GNN Poll asked if you knew what you know today, would you have still gotten into the golf business? The majority answered yes and in ensuing discussions, most people gave as their reasons the friendships and relationships that have been built through the golf industry over the years.
Trowbridge and Hamilton are a perfect example. Hamilton recalls meeting Trowbridge at a junior competition at Westmount Golf and Country Club in Kitchener, Ont.
“It would probably be about 1961-62. I was like 12. He was 14,” said Hamilton.
“I was in the bantam group, 12 and under, and he was a juvenile, like 14 or 15, and we both won our respective divisions. I was thrilled because a guy like him was an older, more talented player and I shot the same score as he had. I shot 80, so I was pretty excited to be with these older guys,” he added.
“We still have a neat memento of that tournament that he gave me a few years ago on my birthday or something. We’ve got some pictures of us together. We’re standing there in our picture and he looks all cool and I look like the fresh-faced little punk,” said Hamilton, who had made a friend for life.
“He’s just such a likeable, great guy. Everybody who knew him felt like they were best friends with him. He was that kind of guy – funny and witty and sharp, just a super guy,” he said.
Both Trowbridge and Hamilton went on to become highly-regarded professionals, both on the course and off. Hamilton feels Trowbridge might have gone farther had he not lost an eye to an errant golf ball in the mid-1970s and if he wasn’t as volatile on the golf course.
“He could make six birdies and shoot 75,” said Hamilton.
There’s no doubt Trowbridge was driven by passion, both on the course and off. Years ago, I regularly edited a magazine column he wrote. Trowbridge was not only opinionated, but entertaining, and his work would come in way too long, forcing me to cut it, sometimes in half.
That meant taking out or cutting down much of the humour that he put into his thoughts and he would continually accuse me of ruining what he called his “schtick.” Of course, I would remind him that it was his opinion that counted, not his schtick, but he certainly had plenty of opinion.
“He enjoyed that stuff. He had very strong opinions about different things. We always used to have a laugh. I didn’t always agree with him, but it was always fun,” said Hamilton. “He had a great passion and he was, of course, a traditionalist all the way. He was very stubborn to say the least.”
Glenn Cundari, president of the Canadian PGA, says that Trowbridge played an important role with his opinions.
“He held the PGA accountable, quite a bit actually, and I can tell you we had some good discussions about what Kenny wrote. I think he played the role that media is supposed to play frankly, in a lot of ways. He challenged us in a healthy way and we kept the dialogue open,” said Cundari.
“One thing that was neat about him is that he was always open to persuasion. If we gave him reasons why we did certain things, he was a pretty rational guy and he would say, `You know what? I still might not agree with it, but it makes total sense to me,’” he added.
“There are some people, when they throw zingers at you, you get your back up. There are some people who throw zingers at you who make you think,” said Cundari. “For the most part, when Ken threw zingers, it made us think a little bit differently.”
According to Dustin Kerr-Taylor, president of the Ontario PGA, Trowbridge launched his opinions for the right reasons.
“No matter what he was doing, he took it very seriously and he always wanted what was in the best interests of the association and the future members,” he said.
“You could see why he was so well-liked and looked up to. He always gave you the time of day, no matter who you were, and that’s what was really great. What a listener. He always listened to you fully,” said Kerr-Taylor.