Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Four!

The similarity between the game of hockey and golf has often been made. The comparison is usually based on the relationship between the golf swing and hockey slap shot. The technical aspects of each motion has been the main reason many hockey players excel at driving the little white ball.

Back in 1967, a former NHL right winger was a member of the pro golf tour.

Bill Ezinicki broke into the NHL with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1944-45. Nicknamed "Wild Bill", he earned a reputation as being a tough competitor. In one game, Ezinicki lost 4 teeth, but returned to score the winning goal. After retiring from hockey, he turned to his other sporting passion - golf.

Taking a peak into his time on the PGA tour, I came across his participation in the $104,500 Bing Crosby National Pro-Am Golf Tournament. The event was held at Pebble Beach in California. The 6,747 yard course (at that time) is considered one of the finest golfing locals in the world.

Ezinicki shot an opening round score of 72, but ran into weather related difficulties in the second round. Gale winds resulted in elevated scores, and Ezinicki shot 150 placing him in 78th position.

The tournament was won by Jack Nicklaus who recorded a 4-under par 72 hole total of 284. This was good enough for a 5 stroke advantage over Billy Casper. Ezinicki's final score was 302, putting him 18 shots off the lead. Fellow Canadian George Knudson finished in 20th place and collected $1,040.

For many years, Bill Ezinicki was the golf pro at a course in Bolton, Massachusetts. He won a number of State championships.

Hockey's best golfers from the Original Six era were on display at the 14th annual NHL Golf Tournament in June of 1968. The winner was Ken Girard (Tor 1956-60) who shot a 3-under par 68 to beat Andy Bathgate (NYR/Tor/Det/Pitt 1952-71) by 5 strokes.

The top 5 included Jim Morrison (Bos/Tor/Det/NYR/Pitt 1951-71), Dave Creighton (Bos/Tor/Chic/NYR/ 1948-60), Doug Favell (Phil/Tor/Col 1967-79), and Jack Stanfield (tied) (Chic 1965-66).

The leader in the 40 to 50 year old group was referee supervisor Frank Udvari who shot a 76. In second place was Hank Goldup (Tor/NYR 1939-46).

In the over 50 category the winner was Jack Shewchuk (Bos 1938-45) who registered a 77. He was followed by Turk Broda (Tor 1936-52) who fired an 80.

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