Beauty is in the eye of the beholder – blue eyes or brown eyes, tall or vertically challenged, single Windsor knot or double?
There is no answer.
Everyone alive loves the autumn foliage, puppies and Hey Jude. However, when it comes to considering a person’s career, the body of work as a whole or the significance of their accomplishments, obstacles appear like mushrooms.
The reason is simple: no two people and therefore, no two career paths, are the same, which makes hall of fame nominations so controversial.
Some delineation is made by separating a playing career from an administrative one, but truly, there is nothing to define a person’s accomplishments and compare them equitably to that of one’s peers, other than to say “a certain group of people think so and so qualifies,” but not another.
In the players’ category a guideline can be established by coordinating a list of championships that meet specified criteria and while it’s impossible to include every event played around the world, at least there would be comparators.
In other words, a candidate’s nomination into the players’ category should basically be a question of whether or not the total victories are enough. Yes, there are some variables as far as quality and even the total is concerned, but not nearly as there is when deciding a nomination for less tangible reasons.
I was driving along the road last week and suddenly I thought of Bert Turcotte, a past winner of the PGA of Ontario Golf Professional of the Year Award, and began wondering why he hadn’t been nominated for a golf hall of fame.
He designed numerous golf courses, owned and operated some of the most advanced driving ranges of their time, introduced numerous innovations, employed multiple people and generated a lot of wealth for a lot of golf industry people, including him.
Turcotte’s businesses created huge growth in the game and his ideas brought media attention from all corners.
Once, he hired Moe Norman to perform a driving contest to see how many driver shots he could hit consecutively but each had to travel 200 yds to count. Moe stopped at 1500. The story hit the papers and the radio (TV wasn’t available yet).
Deeply embedded in the memory bank of many Canadian golfers is Royal Oak Golf Club in Titusville Fla. Every one of those people owes a debt of gratitude to the foresight of Bert Turcotte. It was through his efforts that these thoughts of wonderful times exist.
Charlie and Rene Muylaert, who were identical twins, probably impacted golf in Ontario more than any other person or persons.
Originally from Strathroy, Ont., Rene’s first design job came in 1960 when a successful entrepreneur, Bruce McLaughlin retained him to build Chinguacousy Golf Club in the Caledon Hills. It was an incredible hit as a total riding academy, family center and golf facility.
From there they moved on to design and build close to 40 courses around Ontario. Included on the list is Osprey Links, Peninsula Lakes, Tangle Creek, Pheasant Run, Glen Eagle, DiamondBack and Spring Lakes, among others.
Millions of rounds have been enjoyed on their courses providing memories for thousands of golfers all of which offer mid-priced green fees, interesting layouts and timeless designs.
Golf Ontario now represents all of the amateur golf played in Ontario, but old Ontario Golf Association had a CEO by the name of Ross Thompson, a retired military man. He was a demanding old bird, but he was my friend. He ruled with an iron fist, but he was also innovative and progressive.
Under his watchful eye, the first junior development camps were coordinated. He employed Lloyd Tucker (instructor to Moe Norman, Gary Cowan, Gerry Kesselring and about 25 others who became members of the PGA of Canada), Frank Mann (head Professional at Ladies Golf Club of Toronto), Joe Noble (head professional at what is now the Thornhill Club) and me.
We were billeted with about 30 of the best junior boys in Ontario who earned their way through performance to a four-day stay at CFB Borden, where they received instruction in golf, rules, course management and tournament play.
Then, we (the golf professionals) had a day off and a second group of about 30 came for a four-day stay. It was immensely successful, producing champions such as: Kelly Roberts, Warren Sye, Danny Mijovic and Jerry Anderson. Ross also organized a similar camp for junior girls held at CFB Trenton.
There was the Ontario Open that attracted top stars and big crowds when Ross Thompson was the maestro. He conducted over 40 different amateur events across the province and more than any other act of importance, he monitored a master list of every single golf tournament, seminar and/or function in Ontario.
If you wanted to organize a pro-am of which there were over 50 annually in Ontario, a meeting, a party, a celebration or anything to do with golf, you simply called the OGA to find out what, who and where conflicting events were being held.
Even today, with all of our modern resources, this service is not available. Gruff, rough, demanding, impatient, assertive, powerful and a pussy cat, Ross wasn’t ahead of his time. He was simply the best of his era.
When I think about golf hall of fame and the accomplishments of so many, a list of those names who are missing includes Jerry Anderson, Jim Rutledge, Doug Bruton, Frank Whibley, Alex Olnyk, Yves Tremblant, Yvan Beauchemin, Serge Thivierge, Remi Bouchard, Danny Talbot and Jack Bissegger.
Some should be in the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame and some in their respective provincial halls. Regardless, we should not forget those who passed before us and the roads they made easier to travel.
So what does all this mean?
Very simply, times have changed. If it matters to you, it matters, but not necessarily to anyone else. If you did enough during your life to be elected, you will be in a hall of fame, but if you are counting on future generations to look back and recognize your accomplishments, that’s a pipe dream.
In days gone by, we stood beside a train waiting for the engine to approach as it dragged a load of cars filled with goods going somewhere. We could see the materials spilling over and guessed at the contents of the box cars. We waved to the engineer and he always waved back. His was ace black with soot and his hand covered with a leather glove.
Today, all the cars are sealed and locked for security and safety reasons. The cars are adorned with spray painted graffiti. The engine room is controlled by a computer. Glass windows seal in the air conditioned cabin and stereo sound.
As the train passes, the engineer looks straight ahead with no interest in the rail side. More than anything, I notice the engineer doesn’t wave anymore.
Times change and our memories of days gone by fade if you let them.