Bob Wong recalls golf achievements

Sports

PICTOU — Bob Wong does not rule playing golf again.

Wong, who celebrated his 90th birthday on Aug. 5, is recovering from a series of health challenges that have curtailed his cherished sport.

He has undergone a recent replacement of his right knee, injured a shoulder from exercising too strenuously and only several weeks ago had surgery to ease pressure inside his left eye.

“I couldn’t do anything,” he said, referring to his eye surgeon’s instructions not to drive, lift anything heavy and be too active. “He later took me off the restrictions, so I’m back lifting weights, riding my (exercise) bike and doing 25 push-ups. I take about 20 minutes a day to do the whole thing.”

He was advised to reduce his push-up routine from 50 after he hurt his shoulder.

His surgeon was impressed with his physical condition.

“He said to two students viewing the surgery: ‘I want you to take a good look at this man because he’s in the best shape of any 90-year-old in Nova Scotia.’”

Wong was heavily involved in minor hockey and was twice on Team Nova Scotia’s mission staff responsible for rugby, diving and baseball at the Canada Summer Games. However, his time playing golf and rating courses is a highlight.

Wong said practice was crucial to his golf game when he was a fixture at the Abercrombie Country Club.

“I used to practice two or three times a week,” he said. “I’d get up early and drive to Abercrombie when there was no one around to practice my driving — draws, fades and straight away. Then I practised my putting and chipping out of sand traps. I was never afraid of sand traps.”

He’s a two-time winner of the men’s club championship. He was 71 when he won the second time, and no other member that age has won the title since.

“It was just one of those days,” he said.

He was in his 80s on the four occasions when he posted 18-hole golf scores to match his age.

Wong was twice president of the Nova Scotia Golf Association and worked on rules, handicaps and course ratings for courses around the province. He said three people replaced him when he moved on to do similar work with the Royal Canadian Golf Association, since renamed Golf Canada.

Wong also became a member of the United States Golf Association, which entitled him to play at the sight of the next U.S. each year.

“I played some wonderful courses but my favourite was Pebble Beach,” he said.

He was at West Palm Beach, Fla., for the USGA’s annual general meeting when he met and had a photo taken with the legendary Gene Sarazen, one of just five people to win the Grand Slam of golf.

He returned to the RCGA and suggested the organization adopt the Slope rating system developed in the U.S.

The RCGA wanted me to move to Toronto,” he said. “I said I can do it all at my home. I just need an extra phone and a computer. I’ll set up my itinerary. Everything fell into place.”


Bob Wong holds citations from Golf Canada and the Nova Scotia Golf Association on the occasion of his 90th birthday. (Goodwin photo)