Introduction to Golf:
In the early 70’s I found a half set of Spalding pyratone-shafted Bobby Jones irons in our basement. Despite being a left-handed player, I forced myself to adopt a right-handed swing to learn how to play. Each day I would walk our Bouvier “Tramp” to the schoolyard and would hit a seven iron around. I soon joined a local 9 Hole course called Beechwood located between Thorold and Niagara Falls. For the price of $40, I had junior playing privileges and a locker! There were not a great number of teenage golfers at this time but those of us who played were very enthusiastic.
Prior to going to University in the fall of 1978, I visited Scotland for the first time with my closest friend from high school. The trip had many highlights, golf providing a number of them. We were able to play The Old Course, by showing up at dawn. We played the front 9 and we were approached by a man on a moped who collected our green fee of 1 pound (approx. $2.50)! We also ventured off to play Gleneagles which cost 50 pounds! It just so happened that when we played The King’s Course, there was an exhibition match between Seve and Lee Trevino on the Queen’s Course. I played golf sporadically for the next decade but nonetheless remained interested.
Back to It:
I was able to start golfing again upon completion of school and finding employment as an art teacher. My trips to Scotland also resumed. In ’95, I saw Constantino Rocca sink that amazing putt on the 18th hole The Old Course) at St. Andrews to tie John Daly, who eventually emerged as the Champion Golfer of the Year. I returned in ’98 to act as Best Man for a dear friend (and CPGA teaching Pro) who was getting married to a bonnie lass at Royal Musselburgh. Unbeknownst to him or his bride, Rossana and I decided to elope 6 days later. Our priest was gracious enough to invite us to his golf club (Uphall) for a fine lunch and a round of golf where we played as a fivesome—Rossana, myself, our 2 recently married friends and our host! It was during this trip that we paid a visit to one of the oldest courses on record, Musselburgh Links – The Old Course, located within a horse racetrack just outside of Edinburgh. We also returned to play St. Andrews once again. It was considerably costlier but worth every pence as I was able to birdie 11 where in 1921, Bobby Jones had famously walked off the course out of frustration with the course. I also made par on the iconic 17th hole (“the Road Hole”) at St. Andrews.
Our adventures to Scotland continued in the early 2000s when we returned to Musselburgh, only this time with rented hickory clubs! I was hooked. A trip to the antique stores of both Gullane and North Berwick yielded some playable treasures which made their way back to Canada.
While it appears odd to many of our playing partners that we choose to use hickory clubs, many cannot help but notice how much we enjoy ourselves. This is a continuing theme.
Over time, we have managed to travel with our hickories and enjoy golfing in Iceland, Scotland and elsewhere. We also joined as members of the GHSC in the early 2010s and met many others who share our passion. Much has been written about: the glories of the Old Game; the satisfaction of a well-struck shot; the deserved result of a poor one; the magic of using a club 125 yrs. after its creation for the same purpose; and a growing appreciation for the architecture of classic courses designed at a time when these were the tools of the trade!
The GHSC has provided wonderful camaraderie and numerous opportunities for both formal and casual play. We regularly enjoy outings, particularly at Cambridge Golf Course (thanks to Lorne and Gerald). We continue to use our hickories, almost exclusively, doing our best to “grow the game.” Wherever and with whomever we play, we enjoy the privilege to act as “hickory ambassadors.” While hickory golf is what many of us share with one another, this game continues to introduce us to diverse individuals whom we would not have otherwise met.
And so I say … “Play on, far and sure!”
Vaughn Perusse, Hickory Ambassador
I have been collecting many things golf related since I started the game. While some of these items might be typical, others are unusual and highly personal.
I have enjoyed collecting ball markers and have amassed several hundred. Many are brass while some are plastic or wood. Some are displayed in a curio cabinet and others incorporated in artworks which I have created. They are a happy reminder of experiences I have been fortunate enough to enjoy. Rossana and I have had the pleasure of golfing during our travels and have played many times in Scotland as well as Australia, Uruguay, Iceland, Germany, Cuba and many places in Canada. I usually purchase a ball marker or two as well as a bag tag if available or maybe a logo ball. I have also collected a few Pin Flags.
Some of my favourite things were free of charge: sand from The Road Hole Bunker at St. Andrews, sand from #10 The Devil’s @*#^hole at Pine Valley, a piece of an O.B. stake which saved my tee shot on #7 Skatie Brow, Stonehaven, Scotland. I also cherish an old plastic water bottle which we used to hold our “Whisky Mac” concoction when playing Carnoustie on a very foggy day! I have also collected labelled tees, scorecards and yardage books.
Thanks to Stan Lapidus, I was able to find a Canadian Open Souvenir Program from 1979. I had attended that event. I also purchased an Arnold Palmer Golf Game from him. Arnie stands at the end of your triggered club and hits on command! I had one of these when I was growing up and enjoyed creating golf holes around the house. It was the first Golf Simulator ever built!
My diverse collection finds its value in its power to evoke so many fond memories. I continue to keep my eyes open for the next treasure on this golfing journey!
I have to thank Paul Dietz for getting me started in building playing sets. I have managed to acquire many clubs over the years and while I have a “mixed” play set, I have found, through experience, a set does not have to match in order to work well.
My set includes dot-faced Stewart Irons, a couple of Maxwell flanged clubs, a star-faced niblick from Edinburgh and a Macgregor OA Niblick (thanks Lorne!) and a beautiful Chicopee Brass centre-shafted putter which I call Roger (thanks Jeff!). I have put together a matched set of Stewart Irons but they don’t get out all at once because I cannot hit all them as consistently as I wish.
I especially like to play with my pre-1900 “Smoothies”. This is a large set comprised of clubs ranging from 25 degrees to 56 degrees. I have 2 replica long nosed woods which I use; a Louisville Spoon, which Dr. Dietz restored and most recently a beautiful 17-degree long nose wood handcrafted by Kelly Leonard of Winnipeg (who also built clubs for the film Tommy’s Honour). I was able to get this club through George Supol (thanks George!). It is as much a sculpture as it is a golf club and I love playing with it!
Using original irons from the 1800’s is most thrilling and never ceases to amaze anyone with whom I am enjoying a round. It is especially rewarding when I invite them to try a shot or two. Hitting a club which was used for the same purpose 130 years ago is a wonderful connection to the history of the game.
This is so difficult as there are some “obvious” choices but there are also so many lesser known courses.
My favourites include: Musselburgh Old Course Links (inside a race track), St. Andrews Old, New and Jubilee, Royal Dornoch, Brora, Tain, Kilspindie and Royal Musselburgh (Scotland) Kelir and Brautarholt (Iceland), Club de Golf del Uruguay (Alister MacKenzie design, Montevideo), Osprey Valley (Heathlands), Shaughnessy and Kananaskis (Mt. Kidd), Scarboro GC and, although I’ve never played it, but walked it twice (you can too!) Pine Valley! I also love Toronto’s Don Valley a public course!
I have been a GHSC member for a number of years, can’t exactly remember when I joined. My wife Rossana also joined after a couple of years.
We have been golfing exclusively with hickories (for the most part) since. We enjoy “Hickory Fridays” with hosts Lorne Emery and Gerald Achtymichuk in Cambridge most weeks.
We loved The CB MacDonald Challenge in Niagara when it took place and managed to win a couple of Gold Medals. The organized events, both casual and formal have always been fun, from the Ontario Hickory Tour to the Club Anniversary Celebrations.
There are many opportunities to be involved and now that we are both retired, we look forward to these occasions. We have met, and continue to meet many lovely people through the GHSC.