On 04 June, I was given the outstanding opportunity to play golf with military veterans. These amazing gentlemen and women were well into their 80s and 90s, but demonstrated the heart of a teenager. As serving members of the Royal Canadian Air Force, I and three other friends, proudly made our way to The Country Club, at Woodbridge, Ontario, to talk, listen and rub elbows with heroes of yesteryear. The golf was just a bonus.
As we arrived at the event, we were met by the energetic staff of The Country Club. They were extremely well-organized and courteous from the moment we arrived until the moment we left. The course was in fantastic shape. Its rug-like fairways, beach sand bunkers, to the sculpted greens; nothing was out-of-place and The Country Club was the perfect place to honour these veterans. I will say, thank goodness for golf carts, as this course can be walked, but the constant changes in elevation were similar to a rollercoaster! Lots of fun and sometimes breathtaking!
The opening ceremony was hosted by Peter Mansbridge. He is a famous news caster in Canada and was known by everyone. He spoke eloquently about the sacrifices of these amazing veterans and thanked them on behalf of all Canadians for their service. Additionally, he thanked the current members of the Canadian Armed Forces who were currently serving domestically and abroad. His speech was heartfelt and conveyed the respect held for all veterans.
As we moved to the golf course, we realized that the RCAF foursome was sponsored by Grant Thornton LLP. His generosity was greatly appreciated. As with all events, it takes many sponsors to make it a success. ClubLink, the main sponsor, always steps up to help with this event. The respect shown by all the sponsors was overwhelming and greatly appreciated. The list was long and their generosity appeared boundless.
The day of golf was just that, a day of golf. Play any game you want and enjoy the course. Our foursome decided to play best ball, match play, cart against cart. As we manoeuvred around this amazing course, the one aspect that stood out the most was the greens. They were always elevated, very slick and definitely not flat. Initially, we had trouble reading them and except for one player (not me) that did not change all day. After slashing our way around the course for 11 holes, my partner and I found ourselves down 3 with 7 holes to go.
Well the jokes were flying, but not to be dismayed, my partner and I decided it was time to play. The next three holes, 12-14, my partner played one over. He was on fire and actually saved our round. Heading to 15, we were only one down! During the last 4 holes, I was 2 under – Birdie, Birdie, Par, Par. It was a great stretch of golf and we closed our opponents out 2 and 1. It was quite a change of events and earned us a libation in the club house. But, that is golf. Sometimes things change quickly and we were happy it changed to the good!
After we changed into our uniforms, we headed to the main event of the day. The banquet was fantastic. The food was delicious, the prizes amazing and the venue first-rate. However, the best part of the entire day was talking to the veterans. The two gentlemen I talked too was Walter and Angus. Walter served in England during WWII as an air observer on Lancaster Bombers and helped in the medical corps at a base in England. He talked about the difficult conditions, the sad loss of his friends, and how at 90 years old, still loves to play golf and hanging out with his friends. Angus designed and helped build The Country Club. He talked about using the available land to sculpt the course. He said his vision was to keep the tradition of a links style course within the geography of Canada. The course has changed over the years, but he says it is still very similar to its original design!
Talking to these two gentlemen, and many more, was amazing. The stories they told makes us realize how lucky we are to be living in Canada. They honoured their friends by remembering their sacrifice and spoke with reverence every time they recounted their past. It truly was a fantastic day.
This entire day could not have been the success it was without a committee to make it happen. The chairperson to make the Annual Veteran’s Day of Golf a success was Joe Hutter. His enthusiasm and pride was demonstrated every time we talked. His efforts, and that of his team, were amazing and well appreciated by everyone who attended! The players who attended and the RCAF want to thank Joe for the invite and look forward to next year and the opportunity to do it all over again.
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!