I feel that I am one very lucky guy. I got hooked on golf as a teenage caddie and have spent much of the past 60 years pursuing this passion in a variety of forms—as a player, as a photographer, as a collector, and as a PGA Tour fan traveling to many of golf’s biggest tournaments and most famous venues.
I had my first 18 hole round at Humber Valley in Toronto in 1960. I still remember my opening tee shot with a two wood that faded gently around a big oak tree on the first hole. That same year, Arnold Palmer was dominating the PGA Tour, so it was natural that he became my first golfing hero. In 1964, I took my first golf road trip to watch Arnie at the Canadian Open held at Pine Grove GC in Montreal. I took his picture on the driving range with my Brownie Hawkeye and 41 years later, in 2005, he signed that photo for me at the 50th Anniversary celebration of his Canadian Open win at Weston GC. That 1964 road trip whet my appetite for more golf trips….many more.
It was at the Open at St Andrews in 1984 that I had perhaps my most memorable experience in golf. I was inexplicably mis-identified as a course marshall (they are called “stewards” over there) and instructed to walk the final 5 holes with Tom Watson who was in a fierce battle with Seve Ballesteros for the Open Championship. (Seve won with that magical putt on the 18th.) All that travel also gave me many opportunities to add to my always growing golf collection.
But, by far, the best thing about being “golf obsessed” is the many great friends that I have made and the wonderful people I have met, both through the playing of this great game and through collecting all the “stuff” that makes golf history come to life for me on the walls of my golf room at home.
My first experience with hickory golf occurred in 1992 as a member of The U.S. Golf Collectors Society, in an outing at East Lake GC in Georgia. I can never forget that occasion because, unbeknownst to me, a photographer snapped a picture of me on the practice range which ultimately found its way into a beautiful book entitled “A Passion For Golf”. (The right title for the right guy!)
My collecting instincts started as a young golfer looking for ways to improve and a few instruction books were the answer at that time. But my interest in books really took off the day I walked into the Strand book store in New York in the ’70’s and walked out an hour later with two large bags filled with over two dozen old books.
This passion expanded into several other areas of collecting…ceramics, trophies, clubs, art, magazines, postcards…almost anything that caught my eye and was affordable. Having the late James Heffernan of the Golf Gap (a golf gift store specializing in vintage items) as a good friend helped considerably in steering my many purchases.
At some point however, I realized that if I was to remain married (and have anything left in the bank!!) I had to start concentrating my collecting purchases on just a few things. So, I thought that anything associated with certain names (Palmer, Hogan, Tiger, St Andrews, Pinehurst, The Open, the Ryder Cup) might be the answer…and truthfully, bringing some focus and purpose to my collection was definitely the right direction for me.
In the past year or so, I have become much more intrigued by Scottish made clubs from 1890-1910. Anything stamped Morris, Anderson or Park is definitely going to get my attention.
I have had several hickory play sets over the years since I am always trying to improve my game and having that certain comfort level with my clubs is the key. My current Kroydon irons are the best set of hickories I have ever had, but I still need to gain more confidence with them.
Confidence means being able to see the shot in my mind and then pulling it off. This is where I find the joy in golf. I don’t need to win every match I play, but I continue to strive to remain competitive. So the quest is a never-ending one.
I know some players who love their replica hickory sets…and I have a hunch that is the club direction I will likely be heading to next.
I am very much a traditionalist when it comes to course architecture and will play any Donald Ross layout that I can.
I was a member of the Board of Trade (now known as the Country Club) for over 10 years and the West Course, (where I first broke 80) is among my favourites. Others in the GTA that I most enjoy playing include Wyndance and Caledon Woods.
Outside of Canada, my favourites are definitely Mid Pines near Pinehurst and Dornoch in northern Scotland. They are both tough but fair and their aesthetic beauty demands that I always have a camera within easy reach.
If I had one round left to play, it would probably be the Old Course at St Andrews because of everything it stands for…and where I have yet to break 90. On the other hand, if I could play any course that I wanted, it would be a toss up between two that I can only dream about…Cypress Point and Augusta National.
I was one of the fellows who responded to an ad in the Toronto Star in 1988 placed by our four founders. At a public meeting held at a hotel near Pearson International, I was “wowed” by the opportunity to join up along with others who shared my interest in collecting. I stayed a member for several years and then left, only to become increasingly interested and involved on my second “go-around”. Much of this was due to growing friendships with fellow collectors and travel buddies such as David Burgess, Craig Blair and Dave Blocksidge.
I have most enjoyed being involved in the many GHSC Glen Abbey Trade Shows and more recently, the Toronto Golf Show where the “action” and the camaraderie with fellow collectors is just so much fun.
More recently, due mainly to the encouragement (or is it “provocations”) of Jeff Rogers and Lorne Emery, I have enjoyed more hickory outings than in previous years. I am happy and proud to have had the opportunity to share in the growth of the GHSC as a member of the Board of Directors for the past 6 years and the Vice President since 2017.