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Goodwin's golf roots are well grounded

Driving force for GTA tourneys credits rough upbringing for his success

MICHAEL CLARKSON

TORONTO STAR

When he was 9 years old, Glenn Goodwin practically lived in a creek on a golf course.

His home life was empty and school bored him. He often played hooky from classes and golf became his education, his structure in life. Its players were his role models and his father figures.

That seems ironic, now, because Goodwin has become the founding father of the Greater Toronto Area city golf championships for men and women in the form of the Toronto Star Amateur tournaments.

The second Toronto Star Women's Amateur tees off today at the Ladies Golf Club of Toronto. The four-day tournament is the biggest city amateur tournament in the country.

But it was muddy in the beginning for young Glenn.

From dawn to dusk, little Goody's world was Kettle Creek on the 14th hole at St. Thomas Golf and Country Club in tiny Union, Ont.

Golfers would hit up to 50 balls a day into the water and Goodwin would jump in, ignoring the snakes and snapping turtles, and fish them out.

"I'd throw the balls back to the golfers and they'd toss me nickels and dimes," he recalls with one of his trademark smiles. "I lived in that creek. If I found a Spalding Dot, that was the best ball in those days. They might pay me a quarter for that."

It was 1963 and life could not have been worse for Goodwin. His hard-working father was never home and within two years he would die of a heart attack.

"It was a rough upbringing. It was empty. But I'm not using it as an excuse," he recalls. "I think I embraced it. I think it contributed to my strong drive."

Goodwin embraced golfers and the game's authorities. "I looked up to the head professionals, the general managers and the course superintendents," he said.

"These people were all gods for me. It was a big family and everybody knew everybody else."

The game was built on respect, discipline and patience, and young Goodwin developed those traits. "I learned accountability and honesty."

He idolized Canadian golfing legends Moe Norman and Gary Cowan, who later became an adviser for The Star's tournaments.

Goodwin also learned to read people's habits and it has helped him in his job these days as a display advertiser with The Star.

In 1998, Goodwin founded the Greater Toronto Area Golf Association, incorporating 124 golf clubs that sent representatives to compete for The Star's amateur championships.

"We were far behind other major cities in having city championships," said Goodwin, a member of Islington Golf Club.

"I phoned up Calgary and the guy who ran their tournament just laughed and said he wondered why it took Toronto so long to have a city championship."

The easy-going Goodwin was able to cut through the politics of golf clubs and provincial and federal golf associations because of his many contacts and because he was organized, said Marlene Streit, Canada's female amateur golfer of the 20th century.

"It was a great undertaking. I don't think he wanted to ruffle anybody's feathers, so he carefully laid the groundwork," she said.

"He's probably as determined a guy as I've ever met," said Dick Grimm, long-time Canadian golf official and an adviser along with Streit for The Star tournaments.

"He loves the game and if he makes up his mind to do something, it gets done."
12/12/2008

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