Guelph’s Doug Taylor plans to golf a couple of courses in the Montreal area next year and if he does, he’ll complete a challenge he set for himself about 20 years ago.
The retired school teacher had hoped to golf them this year, but it just didn’t work out.
“I thought I was going to,” he said. “I've got a line on one for sure, but the other one, not yet. But I'm going to do it. I'm going to go down there and take five, six days and go over there and talk to the pro and see if I can bribe somebody to get me on. You know, something like that.”
The two courses, Country Club de Montreal and Golf le Mirage, are the only ones that were on ScoreGolf magazine’s list of the top 100 courses of 2004 that he has yet to play.
The quest began a couple of years after Taylor, 77, retired early due to a cancer diagnosis that resulted in him having his prostate removed.
“My urologist was Dr. Tom Morris and he's a golfer,” Taylor recalled. “We would talk golf and he's really golfed all over the place. He's a pretty good golfer. So, we were talking once about cancer and he says, 'You know, Doug, I think that stress causes a lot of cancer because your body reacts differently to stress.' And he said, 'I think you should look for something relaxing that you like to do.' And he said, 'Have you golfed?' And I said, 'Yeah, I've golfed a little bit.' And so he said, 'Well, you know, I really think you should look into that.'”
Look into it he did and thanks to connections his numerous friends have, he started golfing a little more regularly.
“So in 2004, I'm sitting reading the (ScoreGolf) magazine’s top 100 and I've done that one and I've done that one and I've done that one. I've done about 10 of them and I said, 'Well, why don't I do them all?'”
The personal challenge has taken him from one end of the country to the other and he’s golfed in every province.
“I'm astounded really,” he said. “I mean, you know, it was just a hobby and then, you know, I'm checking them off here and there.”
And, of course, there are plenty of tales to tell.
“One year we had 14 of us, doctors, lawyers, and it was a Cape Breton trip,” Taylor said. “So we flew to Halifax and then got a little puddle jumper over to Sydney. I'm the inspiration behind the tour and whose clubs does Air Canada lose? Mine.”
The group stayed in Baddeck, N.S., the first night and some of the lawyers on the trip sent texts and emails to Air Canada telling the airline to find those clubs and get them delivered to the group.
“Michael Powers, my buddy who's done many of the courses with me, he's left-handed and I'm left-handed so I just used his clubs at Baddeck. That night we stayed in Baddeck and the next day we went out to Cabot Links which had just opened a year previous. So I go there and my clubs didn't show up, so I go into the pro shop and I rent for 75 bucks some beautiful pink clubs – just beautiful clubs.
“So the course, you sort of go front of the clubhouse and then you wrap around by the ocean and, this is the front nine, it wraps back around. So the third or fourth hole, I don't know what I had, a rescue club, and I drilled this thing and it went up on the roof of the building and comes down and rolls about three feet from the cup. I birdied it and it was the (toughest-rated) hole on the course. So the guys were going crazy. And then, whose clubs show up on the fifth hole? Mine. I had to give these flipping clubs back. I could have cried because I was having a really good round.”
There are stories of golfing with a man with a wooden leg who invited him back to his place for a good meal, of golfing with a mother and daughter on a cool day in the mountains in B.C. when the mother left to go to their place on the course and then return with a heater for the golf cart, and of meeting Russ Howard on a course in the Maritimes.
One trip took him to Newfoundland where he and a buddy were going to golf Twin Rivers Golf and Country Club.
“That was a beautiful course. Newfoundland has some beautiful golf courses,” Taylor said. “Anyway, I get up in the morning, it's raining and my buddy informs me he's not coming. I'm going, I’d booked it.”
Taylor shows up at the course alone, but expecting to meet another couple of golfers there. But when he checks in, he’s asked if he wants the good news or the bad news?
“I said, 'I don't care what the bad news it is, I'm golfing this course.' She says 'It's raining. I said, 'Yeah, so what? I'm golfing it. I've come a long way and I'm golfing this damn thing.' She says, 'Well, the other two guys that were going to golf, they've cancelled, so you're on your own unless you'd like to golf with the junior champion who's just finished 18 and would like to go out again.' So I picked this little guy up and he was a hockey player. He could hit the ball, he hit off the ladies' tees, but he was only 14 or something.
"We had a great time. It rained the whole first 12 holes and then the sun came out. It was beautiful. And then the black flies and the mosquitoes came out and I was praying for it to rain again.”
The personal challenge has given Taylor an appreciation for the courses of Canada.
“This country is blessed with just beautiful courses,” he said. “I did all the ones in Vancouver. There's Point Grey. There's Marine Drive. There's Shaughnessy, Shaughnessy, what a gorgeous course that is. They've had the Canadian Open there a few times. It's one of those classical courses along the ocean and everything where it should be. It's just like a, like a wonderland, you know. It's got a little bit of water, lots of sand.”
While none of the Guelph courses were on the list, there were 40 in Ontario with many of them a short drive away including Westmount Golf and Country Club and Deer Ridge Golf Course in Kitchener, Devil’s Paintbrush and Devil’s Pulpit in Caledon and Lionhead Golf and Country Club in Brampton.
The list included at least one course in each province as there were 20 in British Columbia, 14 in Alberta, 11 in Quebec, five in Nova Scotia, four in Manitoba, two each in Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick and one apiece in Saskatchewan and Newfoundland.
And to mark his progress, Taylor has a golf ball holder, much like ones used to display collectible spoons, hanging on a wall in a small office space. Every time he golfs a course, he brings home a ball with the course’s logo on it to put in the display.
A glance at that display has got to bring some pretty good memories flooding back.
“Some of the things that have happened on the course are just magic, just magic,” Taylor said. “It's been a riot, it’s really been a riot. The people I’ve met and because everybody thinks it's a neat thing to do, they like to talk about it. And I'm always talking to them, trying to figure out, like an angle in some other place, you know? No, I've had a lot of fun.”
And when he’s finished this challenge, he just might check out next year’s top 100 to see which courses he has yet to play on it.