Passion for the game shines golden
By Darren Lum
Published Sept. 8, 2016
It’s all about the attitude – or a lack thereof – for success in golf, say two gold medal winning senior athletes.
That was at the heart of how Algonquin Highlands golfers Jere Pike and Robert Pearce won their respective age categories in Callaway golf for District 11 (Haliburton/Muskoka) at the 55 plus Ontario Senior Games Association provincial summer games from Aug. 9 to 11 in Midland.
Their success was also rooted in their ability to execute and remain on form, making sure to not get bogged down in what should have been, but rather to stay in the moment and not get ahead of themselves by thinking of the score.
Pike didn’t even know his victory for 75 plus was by the narrowest of margins, beating the second place finisher from District 2A (Timmins/Temiskaming) by one stroke and three over the third place finisher from a field of 15 golfers until the Times interviewed him.
This wasn’t Pike’s first rodeo, being a repeat provincial gold medallist in the same event in Windsor in 2014.
“The first time is always bit of a thrill, but to do it again is extra special,” he said.
Winning is fulfilling, but it’s the entire experience, seeing the other athletes and being able to meet people from all over the province, that he enjoyed most.
“I just like going to it. If it turns out that you get a medal then it is all the more satisfying of course,” he said.
His district teammate, Pearce of Boshkung Lake, characterized the opening ceremonies with Pike and other athletes from District 11 that included the introduction of dignitaries by a bagpiper similar to the pomp and circumstance as the Tim Hortons Brier.
Sixty-six-year-old Pearce, an OSGA provincial rookie, credits his friend Pike with having a calming effect.
“I was lucky to have roomed with Jere. He’s an old hand at this. A previous gold medal winner,” he said. He adds Pike provided him with insight, which took away any uncertainty about the process.
The golf tournament was held at two locations in Midland. The first day was at Midland Golf and Country Club and the second day was at the Brooklea Golf and Country Club.
Although he thought the Midland golf course was a “little more challenging” than the other course, Pearce was able to shoot a field leading 71 in the opening round in the field of 20 golfers on the first day there. He prepared by going to the course two weeks before the competition, which made the difference. The Boshkung cottager, who winters in Oakville, enjoyed the experience of the games as much as the satisfaction in being able to win his plus 65 age group.
His road to gold started this past year when he won his district in Minden at the Blairhampton Golf Club.
This was the first year he competed in any event for the OSGA after his golfing buddies encouraged him, as they were competing at the district level (to earn the chance to compete at provincials).
Several decades have passed since he got his first set of hickory shafted golf clubs at six. They were cut down to fit him since they were his father’s.
Although the two led the way with their golden performances, district teammate Harold McInerney had a solid fourth place finish, shooting 148 for a two-day total, which was just six shots back from the winner in the 55 plus age category.
With the gold, Pike and Pearce are eligible to represent the province and their district at the nationals in two years in St. John, N.B. They both plan to compete. Pearce has added incentive because his sister lives in the province and he has a niece with a newborn.
This will be Pike’s second trip to the nationals, which he returned from after competing in Brampton from Aug. 16 to 19 at Lion Head Golf and Conference Centre. His finish result, he said, wasn’t notable, but the value of the experience is in the people he got to meet and the spectacle of the whole thing. He points out unlike the provincials where there are age categories, the nationals is organized so the field includes everyone 55 plus and up.
Pike said luck has been part of his journey and he encourages others to try theirs, particularly the district events where competitors are chosen.
“I’ve been fortunate. Let’s put it this way. A lot of people think that, ‘Oh, boy. You go to the [provincials] then you go to the [nationals]. You must be a fabulous golfer.’ Well, that’s not really the case. The system that is employed is fair to everybody. I’ve been fortunate to come out on top a couple of times, but not everybody will go into the initial tournament therefore they wouldn’t have the chance to go to the [provincials],” he said.
This past year the pair and a few others have occasionally get together to golf in the county and outside.
There is a standing game available.
Pearce said he will make efforts to play up to three times a week, calling Blairhampton his “home course.”
Pike, who turns 75 this month, has a passion for golf and for life.
“I just love the game. I’m fortunate enough to play it. When you get to my age whatever happens, happens,” he said.