St.George’s Golf Club

I just read Robert Thompson’s piece about all the departures from St. George’s and whether or not the club might still hold the 2010 Canadian Open. I worked there in 1969. It is one of my favourite golf places in this world.

My father, Bob Slatter, worked on the construction of the course, it was the Royal York course then and you could take a train to the club from the Royal York Hotel. I guess you could also take Royal York Blvd too.

In 1969 I got to work there with Assistant Pro John Dudley (grew up at Rosedale, he used to get Murray Tucker’s golf shoes, both size 7) and for Head Pro Jerry Magee. Great summer, flood of memories.

Beer strike-John and I used to get a bag of Heiniken when we left Piccinni’s Pizza every night. Alderman Joe was the chef out front, his wife worked in the dining room. She would load up a bag with the beers and put a couple empty Chianti bottles on top. “Joe, the boys are just taking some empty bottles!”. Jerry had a meeting one day, he’d found all the wine bottles and we were not allowed to drink on premises any more. We lived upstairs above the Pro Shop.

There used to be a tunnel (culvert) from the parking lot to the Pro Shop. One night John and I had been a bit late and drove through the tunnel and parked outside the shop. It took us an hour the next morning to get the car back through the tunnel. I still think Heiniken makes for good drivers. Bill Hind was the head greenkeeper, he helped us get the car back, wonder where Bill is now? Remember him mumbling about Robbie Robinsons’ “improvements” to 3 and 15.

We had a great caddie program but one day a writer from the Toronto Star did a story about how we were not paying the boys even minimum wages considering they had to wait “all day sometimes”. So we had to end the program, and all the kids who had free lessons, who got to play the Brule Course for free, sometimes played the big course, met business men and women they’d never meet otherwise, we had to end it all. When we needed caddies for special events we had to call Oakdale, they had men caddies, not kids enjoying themselves and making a few bucks to help out. I just thought of something, maybe that guy is still writing and owns a house on Islington GC, maybe! Bill Menzies was our Caddie Master – super guy, biggest heart.

I ran into trouble with my boss when I qualified for the Ontario Open at Pine Valley. Then I shot 69 the first round and all the members were saying nice things (Jerry shot 70). I didn’t notice but John brought it to my attention, said Jerry had polished his desk none stop for 3 hours. I also got in trouble for taking 3 members to play in the Cavotti at Markland Wood. We won. The next month I qualified to play in the Canadian Open, at St George’s! another mistake.

When I got my credentials for the Cdn Open I was allowed into the clubhouse for the first time since we did an indoor clinic in April for the Women. The first time. My winter boss Harry Obitz attended thatOpen and I got to take him into the clubhouse for lunch, imagine if I had not qualified, explaining to Harry that pro shop staff were not allowed inside the clubhouse! Jerry was a great boss but very frugal. He balanced the tee inventory every night. In the Bahamas Harry Obitz used to look after any visiting pros and always gave them something with our logo (King’s Inn). When Harry walked into the shop he just put on a hat, and as he walked out said “Slats, thank your Pal for the skimmer!”. The first round my t-time was 2:52 (Canadians were always paired together, early and late). I worked until 2:30 in the shop, selling and giving away skimmers.

One rainy day I sold every rainsuit and umbrella we had. Turk Broda had picked them up cause “It’s a rainy day at the track”. 24 Morton Knight suits.

Credentials for the Canadian Open. Another time when I qualified I was picking up the stuff in the office and the RCGA lady said she couldn’t find a parking pass for the weekend. Tournament Chairman Dick Grimm was walking by and said, without slowing down, “It’s OK, Gary won’t need one!”

Ron Hewat (CFRB) was a member. I still use his introduction “Gar is such a nice person, he steps out of the shower to have a pee”. He used that to introduce Gar Hamilton at a Horsehoe Pro Am. Did I say Horsehoe? Man, more memories – I hope they put up a plaque for Eric Hanson at Horsehoe. I just heard that he had passed away. You were right Robert, a lot of good ones are leaving us, who will take their place?
I know the team leaving St George’s will miss it. But being there for any length of time is priceless. Right Neil?

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

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  • I was browsing my neighbor’s name on google and I found this blog. My neighbor just happens to be this John Dudley. He’s working over in British Columbia right now at a place called Valley Golf Center in Abbotsford. I just thought I’d let you know he’s still going strong and golfing. Decided to teach me the game.


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