Last Saturday I spent the evening at Mike Weir’s HOF induction in Bright’s Grove. Events, namely Tigergate, overtook a number of things this week, but my column about the role of Bright’s Grove and Huron Oaks Golf Course is not time specific.
Here’s a taste:
You can take the boy out of the small town, but you can’t take the small town out of the boy.
That was the image anyone would recognize if they were in attendance at Huron Oaks Golf and Country Club in Bright’s Grove, Ont. on a cool and crisp November night a week ago to see Canada’s greatest golfer return home to be inducted in the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame amid friends and family.
Enough has been said of Weir’s remarkable career, about his win at the 2003 Masters, of his incredible victory over Tiger Woods at the 2007 Presidents Cup at Royal Montreal, or of his eight PGA titles. All of that makes him more than worthy of entering the hall of fame, an announcement that was made earlier this year and places him alongside Canada’s greats, men like George Knudson and women like Marlene Stewart Streit.
The induction, which is certainly warranted but likely premature, saw friends and family of Weir gather in the bedroom community next to Sarnia to applaud a golfer many would regard as an overachiever. By his own admission he was never the most talented “ Weir simply had the drive, ambition, guts and perseverance to outwork those who regarded as more talented. If he stopped playing the game of golf right now, it would be a grand career.
But in some ways the whole affair was as much a testament to small town golf and what one can accomplish on bumpy nine-hole courses in rural farming communities, or small munis where young golfers fall in love with the game as it was to Weir’s remarkable career as a golfer. It was Huron Oaks, after all, where Weir “ who apparently had nicknames ranging from Gepetto to Pasquale while working in the club’s bag shop “ found his passion for a game of endless challenge. It was endless hours pounding balls on the range, or goofing around trying inventive flop shots on the club’s practice green when he probably should have been working, that helped create Weir’s world-class short game. It was on muddy fairways and with balls hit into bushes where Weir would develop the fortitude and mindset that would later make him a champion.
With that in mind “ and the fact that Steve Bennett, the head pro at Huron Oaks, and Weir’s mentor, gave the introductory speech for the golfer “ the celebration of Weir’s professional career was also a celebration of uncelebrated golf courses.