No one at Chedoke Golf Club noticed that the PGA Tour pro quietly walked to the tee on Saturday afternoon and launched a magnificent two-iron, 270 yards down the middle of the first fairway.
Or I saw the second pro do the same thing when it was his turn and…
Expect, Chedoke? As in the premises municipal Classes?
It’s this one.
Uh, how did two of the best golfers in the world find their way here just days before playing the RBC Canadian Open at St. Georges in Toronto, rather than one of the swankier, more luxurious and lavish options nearby?
The answer begins on the velvety fairways of the world’s lushest courses they play on the circuit every week. Walking from tee to green, it’s time to chat. The caddies and their pros talk about strategy, club selection and other things. Paul Barjon’s younger brother, Alex Riddell? He also often talks about other things. Somesquare if not to be precise.
“I’ll tell him about Chedoke,” Riddell said.
The 32-year-old looper is a Hamilton guy who grew up on this course. He spent his childhood playing hundreds and hundreds of games here. Then worked for the field team at the university. This is where he developed his passion for the game. As a result, many of his stories and anecdotes involve this place.
“He says he loves it,” Barjon says.
It was then natural for him to suggest a game on the old playing field when Barjon and Lee Hodges were going to be in the area for a few days before the national tournament.
“I was like, ‘Well yeah, that would be fun,'” Barjon says.
So there they were. Playing with some of Riddell’s family and friends for the Hammer Cup, a silver-colored trophy-shaped planter the caddy bought for $12 at Value Village and then accented with arts and crafts craftsmanship to reach the top of Hamilton.
With no warm-up and only about five practice putts to figure out the greens, Barjon and Lee shook things up on the Beddoe course. Rather nicely, in both cases. No surprise there. The best players in the world make it look so easy.
Then it was Riddell’s turn to strike.
“He lived his whole life for this moment,” Lee joked.
A slight exaggeration. But Riddell was indeed nervous. I can’t invite everyone to the home class you’ve always been bragging about and then curse one, he thought. He would never forget her.
Once his drive safely found a fairway, it timed out.
“I was going to throw up,” he said as he walked away from the tee box.
He did not do it.
From there it was just one more day on the course. Except it wasn’t.
As you’d probably expect, it’s not common for PGA Tour pros to play on municipal courses. Lee grew up in Alabama and says he probably hadn’t played one since his amateur days. Barjon learned to play on one on the South Pacific island of New Caledonia and rounded a few more as a pro, but not a ton.
Rod Goodes was the club’s pro from 1965 to 1989. As far as he can remember, the last time a player with his PGA Tour card played here was in 1957 when Ed Oliver – better known as of Porky or Pork Chops, depending on the day – hit balls. with Bob Hope. Yes, the Bob Hope.
Sixty-five years later, Barjon and Lee didn’t care whether they were next and spending their day at a fancy country club. On the contrary.
The West Hamilton course is in good condition and has none of the negative cliches associated with municipal courses: namely neglected grass, unreplaced divots and greens that might more accurately be called browns.
More than that, however, Barjon says it’s good to have a reminder of where they started every once in a while. After all, there are approximately 70 million golfers in the world and they are among the top 175 golfers. It comes with privileges.
“You kind of take it for granted,” he says of the incredibly perfect courses they enjoy at every event. “It’s good to push back and say, ‘Hey, you know, I’m lucky to play in these places every week. “”
By the time the last putt had fallen on 18, Riddell had acquitted himself pretty well with an impressive 74. Barjon came in at two under par at 68.
And Lee? He carded a 62, equaling the course record held for years by local legend Kevin Kelly, while promising to return next year to defend his Hammer Cup.