Thanks for rais­ing your hand, Ken

SPEC­TA­TOR GOLF

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - GARRY MCKAY

His play­ing ca­reer is im­pres­sive, to be sure. But when Grimsby na­tive Ken Tar­ling was in­ducted into the On­tario Golf Hall of Fame this month, lit­tle was said of what may have been his big­gest con­tri­bu­tion to Cana­dian golf.

Some will ar­gue we may not have seen the suc­cesses of Mike Weir or even Dun­das’ Macken­zie Hughes, if the then up­start 24-year-old Tar­ling hadn’t raised his hand at the Cana­dian Pro­fes­sional Golfers As­so­ci­a­tion AGM in the spring of 1983 and de­manded to know what was hap­pen­ing with the Cana­dian Tour.

Tar­ling had a right to be a lit­tle up­set with the CPGA. He had won the Cana­dian Tour’s Q-school in the fall of 1982 only to be told by the CPGA that, well, there re­ally wasn’t a Cana­dian Tour any more.

“The Peter Jack­son Tour had sort of fallen apart in 1978 when the fed­eral gov­ern­ment banned tobacco ad­ver­tis­ing,” says Tar­ling. “By 1983 there were about five pro­fes­sional tour­na­ments across the coun­try and even a cou­ple of them would over­lap dates on oc­ca­sion. There was no real tour, though, no Or­der of Merit, noth­ing like that.”

So up went Tar­ling’s hand at the meet­ing want­ing to know what the heck was go­ing on.

He was told that the CPGA needed some­one to take over their tour­na­ment play­ers di­vi­sion and that Ge­orge Knud­son, Dan Hall­dor­son, Dave Barr and good­ness knows who else had al­ready turned it down.

Sud­denly, Tar­ling re­al­ized he was the only one stand­ing in the now very quiet room. He took a deep breath and vol­un­teered.

Some­one else jumped up and said: “I don’t know this guy at all but we can’t get peo­ple to vol­un­teer for any­thing, so let’s take him.”

Tar­ling smiles when he notes that that same guy, decades later, nom­i­nated him for the On­tario Golf Hall of Fame.

The Cana­dian Tour that first year was com­posed of 25 mem­bers and five tour­na­ments with a to­tal prize money of $155,000.

Tar­ling pulled to­gether an ex­ec­u­tive and re­cruited his wife, Tina, to write letters. They con­tacted spon­sors, made cold calls, and suf­fered many re­jec­tions. But they pressed on.

And Tar­ling freely ad­mits it wasn’t en­tirely an un­selfish pur­suit. “I was try­ing to cre­ate a place for my­self to play as well,” he says. “It helped me, too, if we had suc­cess.”

And they did have suc­cess. In 1985, Tar­ling’s third and fi­nal year at the helm they had nine tour­na­ments and played for $555,000.

It was a true, or­ga­nized golf tour, again. They had some good spon­sors, an Or­der of Merit, and had worked out re­la­tion­ships with tours in Aus­tralia and South Africa.

Tar­ling says he had al­ways planned to turn the lead­er­ship over to some­one else af­ter three years, so he could con­cen­trate on play­ing and be­cause he felt that’s the way or­ga­ni­za­tions should be run.

It hasn’t been all smooth sail­ing for the Cana­dian Tour since then, of course. And if the PGA Tour hadn’t res­cued it fi­nan­cially a few years back, who knows if it would have sur­vived. But there’s lit­tle doubt Tar­ling set it back on the right track back in the early 1980s.

The cur­rent PGA Tour Canada rec­og­nized that when they hon­oured Tar­ling in 2012 with an hon­orary life membership.

Through­out his play­ing ca­reer, Tar­ling cap­tured 21 pro­vin­cial ti­tles, two na­tional cham­pi­onships, one Cana­dian Tour win and 12 in­ter­na­tional vic­to­ries in eight coun­tries.

He’s cur­rently still play­ing on the Euro­pean Se­nior Tour. WHOLE IN ONE: Aces in the area — Noel Robb on the 111-yard fourth hole at Copetown Woods, with an eight-iron; Randy Bacher on the 95-yard eighth hole at Wil­low Val­ley, with a pitch­ing wedge; and Paul Ma­nary on the 128-yard third hole of the Red Fal­con nine at Chippewa Creek with an A-wedge.

Garry McKay is a vet­eran, award-win­ning golf jour­nal­ist and a former sports­writer with The Hamil­ton Spec­ta­tor. gar­rym­ckay1@rogers.com

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