Living on an island you sometimes don’t know when a special person passes away. Chuck Shields, a professional in Calgary (several times Calgary’s new home salesman of the year) just informed me. “he was one of the good guys!” Chuck reminded me.
Ken Venning was the first of the really long ball hitters that I noticed (Leo Bradshaw and Al Paterson thought they were until they played with Ken). Before Ken, all the pros seemed to hit it 260 yards. His nick name became “the Animal” and he loved it.
Ken was working for Irving Lightstone at Maple Ups and his good friend and competitor Mike Fraser worked with me at Bayview. One day I got a call from Irv, “Gary, can you do me a favour and ask your staff to address Ken as Mr. Venning when they call, he’s applied for a Head Pro job and we want to change the image.” As I said no problem I could hear Irv say on the side, “Piggy, want to talk to Slatts?”
Ken won The Bursary one year and competed in South Africa. I remember Harold Henning asking me about this Canadian guy who could really hit it, Henning only remembered him as Animal.
Aside from being a good player Ken was always fun to be around. One year at the annual Bobby Clifton Memorial (Pro/Wife tournament) Ken took the microphone (he always did) and announced that we should change the format to Pro and Ex-wives because he had his own foursome.
It’s hard to say you miss someone that you haven’t seen for a few years, but Ken, I’ve only known you were gone for a half hour and I really miss you already! Ontario Pros, can we have a Ken Venning Memorial? One rule, Drivers only off the tee!