Northwestern Ontario Golf Hall of Fame Inuagural Inductees
By Scott A.Sumner
Northwestern Ontario Golfing News
It was an honour to attend and talk to the inaugural golf inductees and their families to the Northwestern Ontario Golf Hall of Fame. Bill Gordon has been a big part of the golf community of Thunder Bay for many years as a Professional. Back in 1939 Bill started to caddie at age 9 at the Port Arthur Country Club, now TBCC. He grew up with the Stokaluks who lived nearby and were caddies as well. Bill Gordon grew up in the Southend of Thunder Bay near the Big M Bowling Alley and will be 77 this August. He doesn't play golf anymore but is teaching some scholarship holders.
In the early days when I first started in golf as a caddie we were not permitted on the golf course. How it started was I bought a hickory shifted club that was like a 5 iron. That's all I had. The caddies got to play 2 tournaments each year. You would be paid 50 cents if you carried two bags back then, smiled Bill Gordon. The pro
at TBCC asked me if I would like to clean clubs and at about 11 years old I began working at the club. In 1945 the clubhouse and pro shop burnt down which was then situated where the number 7 green is now. In 1950 I started to get more serious about playing golf when I bought a set of clubs in Geraldton for $67.17. In 1954 I got a new set from the then Chapples Pro. That when golf got more into me.
It took me quite a long time to lower my handicap- about 6 years. After that I won a few tournaments including the District Amateur in 1958 and 1962, and then my amateur days were over. I applied to the City of Thunder Bay Parks and Recreation when Mickey Hennessey as well s Rob McCormack were in charge. I was interviews and was able to get the job at Chapples where I stayed until 1986, 23 years in total, noted Bill Gordon.
As an amateur I was very happy to play at Chapples. We had the McDonalds Tournament then and Junior Development was my most important work. Moe Norman was a very good friend of mine and helped me with the juniors. We used to travel together and play many tournaments. Moe would talk to you if he respected you but if he thought you had said bad things about him would shy off. Golf came into my brain from his brain because I played with Moe Norman as well asother greats like Al Balding and Bob Panisuk who still holds 9 records across Canada.
I was most interested in seeing Juniors enjoy the game of golf. We used to have 125 junior players three times a week for clinics including golfers like Tony Stokaluk, Billy Seagris, Jackie Palmer and Jimmy Szturm. We were so pleased with the kids we would provide hot dogs for them for free, laughed Bill Gordon. I was teaching at the ome last winter but now I am on the retired list. If I am phoned I still go and help people as my health is good.
73 year old Bill Britton began an illustrious golf career in 1947 at Strathcona at age 14. He learned a lot watching and playing with his father. I don't remember when I last practiced because it gets you through tough periods in the round. I really recommend practice and I did a lot of practice when I was competing. Last year I played 33 times and averaged a score of 85.1111, with my lowest score a 77, smiled the personable Bill Britton. I respect the steady golfer. Bill Gordon was a steady golfer. It's quite humbling getting this honour. I don't know if I should be sitting here. I snuck in there a few times in tournaments. There are so many young good golfers today they give themselves great competition. The courses seem to be shorter now because they hit is so far. Still, if you put the pins in a hard place it will be a lot harder to score. I didn't know all my family were coming from Niagara Falls and Thunder Bay. It has been a great day. Also represented at the ceromony by friends and family were Bob Devine and Bill Guy.