There is little doubt that the older we get, the better we were.
In their dreams, guys who played Junior B hockey recall actually having played in the NHL. Others, even if they climbed over serious obstacles as youngsters, only have childhood images of sunny, warm summers and green fields blowing in a gentle breeze.
Somehow, when we look back at life everything seems as though it was better.
Perhaps, that is the romantic in us or a wish for simpler times. Golfers are among the best for their recall of days gone by. Here are a few images that hopefully get you stimulated as we anxiously await green fairways.
Do you remember bamboo green sweepers?
Greens were cut two or three times a week and on the off days, they were swept with a 12-foot long pole to remove the early morning dew.
Even on the cutting days, they were used to eliminate the worms casts (remember them) that dulled the mower blades and put streaks of mud on the surface.
All greens mowers were of the walk-behind type which were transported by the staff walking from green to green.
Rough was cut with a hand-me-down fairway gang mower pulled by a tractor, but because irrigation was only on tees and greens, the rough needed only to be cut two or three times a month and fairways were cut about once per week.
Bunkers were raked by hand or not at all and the flag stick was bamboo. Ball washers were a box made from galvanized steel with a wooden paddle on a chain and there was a handle pump somewhere on the course with a metal cup on a chain so you could get a drink on a hot day.
The local rules printed on the scorecard allowed for a free drop for trees under shoulder height because we had a lot of new courses and the trees were planted saplings with a guy-wire.
This went the way of the dodo bird with tree spades and instant forests as did “tree planting bees” held by the members to improve the course.
On weekdays at private clubs and all times at pay-as-you play operations, starting times were controlled by a ball rack and at private clubs on the weekends, times were booked by phoning in Thursday for Saturday and Friday for Sunday.
I recall always having people standing around in the pro shop telling stories and after golf, there was only one common room for men and ladies.
Frequently, men would be sitting shirtless, smoking cigars, sipping high octane drinks while playing gin. At the same time, in the same room, ladies with their hair done up and all dressed up for their annual luncheon sat in another corner eating lunch.
We had short tees with big heads for par three holes, half-fingered gloves and pork-pie hats. I wish I had played in plus fours and a long sleeve shirt, but nothing was more elegant than a pair of winged tip shoes with real steel spikes or a pair of saddle shoes, brogues or shawl tongues.
You could buy a Dunlop Jet for $.50 or a Club Special for $.75 and some Pro shops had a statue of the Penfold Professional – “he played a Penfold” emblazoned on the base. If you were ‘big time’ you could buy a new Titleist, Wilson Staff or Spalding Dot for $1.25 and then slice right through the cover when you skied your tee shot on the 1st tee.
On field day, members dressed up in costumes and drank copious amounts of liquid refreshments served from an old farm wagon pulled by the superintendent’s tractor.
Members followed the players around the course in the final round of the club championship. Shotgun starts began with a real shotgun blast and the Ontario Open used six or seven courses to accommodate all of the qualifying round entries.
It was held the same week as the U.S. Open and tour players who failed to qualify for the Open came to play in Ontario and attracted 5,000 or 6,000 spectators.
In the clubhouse, hamburgers were cooked on the grill in greasy oil from the deep fryer instead of a flaming barbecue.
Grilled cheese, toasted clubhouse hot turkey and/or hot roast beef sandwiches were basic staples on the menu served with french fries cooked in over-used oil that caused the fries to become toasted. No soft drink tasted better than Coke in a 6 oz split and condiments come in jars not plastic bags.
With the season approaching here, you could lean back on Sunday with the Crosby in black and white televised from Pebble Beach followed by the latest from Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf.
FYI: I heard because of the high ratings for the Knudson vs. Leonard match at Capilano there is talk of Knudson playing Balding somewhere in the Maritimes perhaps at Cape Breton Highlands.
Those are wonderful memories for those of us who lived them and what hasn’t changed since then is thinking green with the season approaching quickly in order to store more memories for future use.