Hamilton & Young Inducted into Ontario Golf Hall of Fame

5/5/2011

Story and Picture by Brent Long of Better Golf Communications

Gar Hamilton & Sam Young Inducted into Ontario Golf Hall of Fame

(Uxbridge, Ont., May 4, 2011) - A full house of 150-plus friends and family members gathered at Wooden Sticks Golf Club to warmly welcome Mississaugua Golf and Country Club Head Professional Gar Hamilton and Shelburne Golf & Country Club owner/teacher Sam Young into the Ontario Golf Hall of Fame on Wednesday evening.

It turns out that Young gave Gar some of his early golf lessons, when Gar turned up at Weston Golf & Country Club as a 12-year-old pro shop rat. Young was an up and coming Assistant Professional and Gar even caddied for Young, so it made the evening a little more special given their time together at Weston. It was interesting to listen to their stories and how their passion for the game took them in different directions, but landed them in the same honoured position as members of the Ontario Golf Hall of Fame.

It was noted in a wonderful video tribute to Gar that he’s is only the eighth Head Professional Mississaugua has had in its proud 105-year history. Gar thanked his “Golfing Family” for what has been a wonderful career both before Mississaugua and for the past 23 years at the club of his dreams. He made special mention of his father Gar Sr. for his encouragement and giving him the opportunity to succeed, to his wife Nancy for a great journey together over the years, to Phil Hardy, the head pro at Beacon Hall who nominated Gar for the Ontario Golf Hall of Fame.

The 61-year-old talked about many of the special relationships he developed with people around the world as time moved forward. There was Cal, the “evil” caddie master at Rosedale where it all started for Gar as a nine or 10-year-old. He mentioned a lot of great guys who took him under their wings when he started competitive junior golfer at Don Valley GC. He graciously thanked Young for being an early mentor who taught him the value of hard work and improving oneself. There were people like Jack Salter and Jack Marks and friends Ken Trowbridge, Wayne McDonald and Tim McCutcheon. Gar reminisced about Mississaugua G&CC member Gordon Coyle taking him to The Master, the very first year Gar worked at Mississaugua and how he wrote Dick Grimm 100 times trying to get into the Canadian Open. Gar did play in the Open 13 times! Of playing pro golf on the PGA Tour he said, “I couldn’t quite stick in the “Bigs”, but I have a few good bat.” He talked about special time spent with or playing against Al Balding, Moe Norman, Gary Cowan, Nick Weslock and George Knudson.

Gar started at Mississaugua G&CC in 1981, after eight years as the Head Pro at Horseshoe Valley. He talked about following in the footsteps of previous head professionals Gordie Brydson and Bill Aldridge.  “Mississaugua has been a great home for the past 23 years, but most importantly it has been the people who have been there over the years, who have made it so special,” Gar said. He graciously thanked so many of his “golfing buddies” for attending the dinner including his first Club President Andy Prozes and first Golf Captain Dr. Lee Farrow, Club management, General Manager Ian Scott, the Board of Directors, the Golf Captains and many others.

His closing comment says it all, “I have been the luckiest guy in the world at Mississaugua G&CC.”

Sam Young, 69, joined the Canadian PGA in 1961 and has been dedicated to learning the game, teaching it to others and growing the game for an even longer period of time. Young is one of Canada's most respected grass roots teaching professionals.

He thanked his wife Mary for all her support, as well as their two children Brooks and Megan, who were in attendance, and their families. He touched on his parents, who emigrated from Scotland to Canada in 1948. His father took his turn maintaining the Tulliallen Golf Club in Kincardine, Scotland by herding the sheep from one fairway to another and played golf recreationally. Once in Canada, his Dad purchased a set of used Spalding golf clubs and the game was on. Sam borrowed them frequently to play in the schoolyard and became quite the repairman as the heads use to fly off regularly.

Sam soon found a job caddying at Oakdale G&CC while he attended public school. He learned to play at Humber Valley GC playing 54 holes in a day for 50 cents and was soon offered a job in the backshop at Oakdale. He learned from an exceptional player named George Knudson, spent the winter of 1961 playing 36 holes a day with Moe Norman in Ormond Beach, Florida before going to work at Weston G&CC where he met Al Balding among other notables. “I have never forgotten what Al, Moe and George gave to me. I know that their generosity had a huge influence on me when it came time for me to give back to young golfers and to the game of golf.

His playing aspirations ended in 1967 due to arthritis in his hands and he wound up at Maple Downs in 1969 before moving to Huntington G&CC (later Hunters’ Glen GC). He bought Shelburne G&CC, which opened in 1961 with nine holes, in 1986 and hasn’t stopped working since then. From there he developed one of the most affordable junior golf programs in Canada and today also focuses on introducing the game to women with specialized clinics. Eleven of his students have gone on to scholarships in the United States and all have come back with a degree. “At Shelburne everyone knows that education is first, but golf is a close second. And, when my wife isn’t around I tell them that golf is No. 1, school is a close second!”
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