Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Golfing History-In Prince Edward County

The Canadian Professional Golfers’ Association is celebrating its one hundredth anniversary this year. George Cumming was a popular pro and teacher at the Toronto Golf Club, and he was elected as the first president of the organization.

In 1988, Lou Garrison won the CPGA Seniors’ Championship in London, Ontario. That title was certainly the highlight of the career for a man who had learned the game of golf in Picton, Ontario.

“Louie”, as he was known to all of his friends, was not born with a golf club in his hands. He took up the game in his teens, likely after finishing his chores on the family farm. His father was a cattle drover, and started the auctioneering business at the Picton Auction Barn. “Louie” also worked in the family business for years, but his first love was golf.

He lost the Picton Club Championship in 1962 to a young ball striker named John Lipson, nineteen years old at the time; however, Lou did go on to win three club championships. Another of Garrison’s playing partners from those days was Joe Skratt.

Joe vividly remembers those days. In fact, Skratt was with the Picton Gazette at the time, and photographed Garrison and Lipson at the conclusion of the club final. “Fred Purcell was the pro in Picton at that time, and he took Lou under his wing. Above all, he taught Lou some of the finer aspects of the game, including self control,” Joe told me recently while reminiscing about those days. “Lou decided at that time that he was going to make a career out of golf. I believe that John Lipson gave him the impetus to do it.”

Garrison was fifty-one when he won the Canadian Championship. For years, Moe Norman had held the crown. But other well-known golfers have also had their names engraved on the trophy: Bob Panasik from Windsor, Al Balding from Mississauga, Ken Girard from London, and Bob Rose from Waterdown, to name a few. At the time of his victory, Lou was playing out of the Sutton Creek Golf Club.

With his win at London, Garrison realized that he had an exemption for the Senior British Championship. He phoned the secretary at Turnberry in Scotland, and was delighted to find that he had earned the berth to play. He was joined by Harold Hambleton, a long-time friend and fellow pro.

Lipson recalled Garrison’s trip to Scotland. “Louie fired a 69 as his opening round. He talked to us about the fact that his name was on the leader board with all of the greats of the game. Gary Player remarked that Louie had a wonderful swing.” Garrison’s final rounds did not go as well, but he thoroughly enjoyed the experience. His quote from the Toronto Star, just before he headed to Turnberry: “I’m going to work hard, and then come back and try for my card on the U. S. seniors’ tour. I’ve been working hard for three years. And now it is starting to pay off.”

Hambleton and Garrison met in 1968 when they were both assistant pros at Rosedale Golf Club in Toronto. Shortly thereafter, Louie met Toronto business magnate E. P. Taylor who convinced him to work at Lyford Cay in the Bahamas. John Lipson recalled that Garrison was far ahead of his time. “Louie introduced video as a golf pro. He could analyze a client’s swing, and demonstrate his teaching techniques with video. It was unheard of at the time.”

Sadly, Garrison was felled by cancer before he could really get untracked on the Seniors’ circuit. He passed away in June, 1992.

Joe Skratt and John Lipson still bang the ball around at the Picton Golf Club, currently celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the additional nine holes to complement the original nine. I am certain that once in a while, perhaps quietly, each might mumble over a lipped putt, “Louie would have sunk that one!”

James Hurst
July 26, 2011

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