By Stewart Grant
Truly amazing things have happened here at the St. Marys Golf & Country Club in this small town, located only 30 minutes from Stratford and 30 minutes from London. In the 82 years since the 1931 opening, our golf course has witnessed some incredible moments. Thanks to some informal discussions with a collection of Club golf members, I’ve compiled a sampling of some of the epic, unbelievable and amazing shots that have left imprints on our club’s history.
Jim Craigmile recalled the rumour that many years ago, a drive off old hole #18 ended up in the back of a flatbed truck and may be a record for the World’s longest drive – because it ended up in Halifax! - Jim Craigmile
One Sunday morning, young Eugene Kittmer began his round on old #1, now #10. His opening tee shot went approximately 15 yards along the ground and hit the forward small cone-shaped concrete tee block marker where the golf ball caromed off the marker toward the clubhouse and went through the open curling club door. Many golfers were waiting to tee off and took full advantage of the shot to get in a few digs, like, “play it where it lies”. Well, as I have been told, he hit the ball off the sand between the ice pipes and had to aim out the back double doors at the curling club. He was laying three or four by the time he was back on grass.– Jim Craigmile
The St. Marys version of the Ryder Cup is a fiercely contested annual team event that pits the “Young” members against the “Old” members in a series of match play events. The 2006 edition of this battle was the closest in history, with the 12-12 tie allowing the Young Guys to retain the Cup. With a score that close, it is natural to try and identify the key moments that contributed to the end result. The rarest of these events had to do with Glenn Bertrand’s tee shot on hole #5. Those who have played this hole may find it difficult to imagine someone hitting a golf ball out-of-bounds LEFT (not right) on this hole, but Glenn’s severely-smothered pull hook was most definitely heading out-of-bounds when it miraculously struck a thin strand of barb wire so directly that the golf ball stopped dead in its tracks and remained on the golf course. From there, Glenn and his Alternate Shot partner managed to tie the hole and go on to tie the match to help retain the Ryder Cup for the Young Guys. – Stewart Grant
When surveyed for this Blog, Dave Shepley pointed out that Eugene Kittmer was not only known for his famous curling club shot described above, but that he had also taken the cherries off a police cruiser with an errant tee shot on hole #18 and also had a golf ball on #18 get stuck in the street light. No wonder the closing hole at St. Marys was moved further away from the road a couple of years ago. – Dave Shepley
Robby Smink’s golf swing might not instantly remind you of the elegant motion of Fred Couples, however they both share at least one notable golfing distinction. Just like Freddy’s famous shot one year at Sawgrass, Robby made a “hole-in-three” by knocking his tee-shot on #9 at St. Marys in the hole, moments after his first attempt found the water hazard. It must have felt strange to write an ordinary “3” on that scorecard. – Robby Smink
I never understood the expression “seeing stars” until my imagination got the best of me a few years ago at St. Marys hole #11. Playing in a close doubles match but awkwardly up against a tree, I looked for any solution to try and get my second shot onto the green. The ricochet shot off the trunk of the tree seemed like a great option. I hit the ball with great force but misjudged the angle, and before I knew what happened, I felt the golf ball strike me right between the eyes. Ever since then I have understood where “seeing stars” came from, because I swear that I saw them that day. – Stewart Grant
Many years ago, I saw my Dad pull his tee shot and smack a tree so directly that it came straight back to him. Without even moving his feet, he calmly caught the line drive and re-teed it. When I checked his scorecard, apparently there’s no penalty stroke if you catch the ball before it lands! – Stewart Grant
One thing that hasn’t changed in 83 years of St. Marys Golf is that anything can happen. Should you witness any new classic golf shots, or recall other great golf stories from years past, please send me a note through the golf course website.