I know younger people get feed-up hearing old geezers recall the “old days” or “in my day.” Well, in the first place, I hope they will get their turn to reminisce and secondly, I hope their recollections are as pleasing to them as ours are to us.
The problem with being young is that you haven’t lived long enough to have memories worth telling simply because it’s all too fresh.
Like so many things in life, memories are appreciated with age. It’s difficult to savour graduation ceremonies, weddings, new jobs and births when they only just happened.
It’s that appreciation of memories that help you through the funeral of an old friend.
Everyone remembers what a great guy the person was and how much fun they had together, all the crazy times like pulling over at a truck stop while driving to Florida in mid-January to use the facilities only to learn that your travel companion, the one whose ashes are at the front of the chapel, locked the keys in the still-running car.
It snows in North Carolina in January. Since this incident occurred before cell phones, we had to sleep in the only warm place, the washroom, until a trucker came in and allowed us to use his CB radio to get help.
Last week Ted Maude died and I went to his funeral. Lots of friends I know were there and because Ted was one of the all-time greatest characters I have ever met, the stories and memories were incredible.
Once I got home, it occurred to me to write this piece about him, so the first thing I did was Google his name. Sure enough, all the parts of Ted’s life that were re-visited during the eulogies are right there.
He played on the Canadian Tour which I recall because we played it together. He composed a golf show called “The Swing’s The Thing,” a band of golf troubadours based in South Ocean Beach in the Bahamas.
I knew that because I’ve heard Gary Slatter, Dave Clayton and Gary Pitchford tell about it. Ted was good friends with E.P. Taylor, which I know because I’ve seen the photos of them together. He was friends with King Edward VIII.
Peter Sellers and Sean Connery often had lunch with Ted and his wife Sharon when they lived in the Bahamas so they could avoid autograph-seekers. Along with his good friend, course architect, Doug Carrick, the pair helped opene the Maritimes to golf tourism.
So what makes me think golf has changed? It’s simple really.
When I looked around the funeral home, I realized how many people I have met and known through golf.
My beginnings were hitting a few battered balls around a high school football field in Aurora, Ont. I have enjoyed listening to thousands of golfers who each have their own story of how they first took up the game that brought them to that place in time when we encountered each other for the first time.
People still have stories about their early days but the group who impacted me the most have been the golf professionals, from the PGA of Ontario, PGA of Canada, PGA of America and other organizations around the world.
In recalling my “good old days,” I remember playing local assistants’ championships when Jim Morrison, a struggling entrepreneur who had just acquired the rights to distribute Titleist golf balls, stood on the first tee and presented every player with two dozen brand new balls.
He was a big, friendly man with beautiful white hair and a solid white sport jacket. What he gave me was my supply of balls for the year and the retail price of the balls was more than my entry fee into the tournament.
Through these events I met fellow fledgling members of the association, some who are still my friends some 50 years later.
The PGA of Ontario Spring Meetings were often held at Bayview Golf Club. Normal attendance was 350 to 400 members all coming together to find out industry news, get the Tournament schedule but more than anything we commiserated.
In the Fall, we attended the Merchandise Show where everyone wore a jacket a tie. We visited with each other, exchanged buying/product ideas and dined together. Show Specials travelled like wild fire up and down the halls of the Holiday Inn.
Even the Board of Directors I served on for a total 16 years had 19 representatives from each corner of the Ontario Zone.
Last but not least, we regularly played in about 15 pro-ams per year. Each of these attracted 30 to 36 local Golf Professionals.
In total, by the time you counted playing the CPGA Championship, Ontario Open, Spring, Summer and Fall Ontario PGA Championships, the Hulbert, the Pro Club Champions, the Pro-Junior and the Pro Lady, an active head professional would see other PGA members 20 to 25 times a year.
Friendships were built, there was camaraderie and we actually belonged to a fraternity. We knew each other’s families and travelled to foreign countries to play in pro-ams with our members.
In fact, a significant number of amateurs who were members at various clubs played their own form of a “Pro-Am Tour” and we established relationships with them too.
So, I again say the golf business has changed.
Pro-ams are almost extinct, PGA of Ontario meetings are poorly attended because information is more readily available through the internet and the merchandise show is a far different format.
As I looked around the chapel and saw my golfing peers – Dave and Sandy Clayton, Herb and Mary Holzscheiter, John and Paul Henrick, Gary Pitchford and Tom Aird – it made me sad to think how much things have changed.
Do I long for the way things were? Sometimes.
Do I like golf the way it is? In some ways.
Do I wish the camaraderie, the tomfoolery, the fun, the gags and jokes, the old ways of being a golf professional were still around? A lot.
Good-bye Ted. Thanks for the memories.