by Joe McLean
“Stan Kolar was a golf professional respected by his peers and golfers in the Ottawa area. As a teacher he was sought out for lessons. Ahead of his time, he realized that distance was the key in the game. Many of his young students were taught to ‘hit it as hard as you can’. As an innovator, his line of hand-made woods with different colored heads was sought after by players. As for his integrity, I remember caddying for him at the Rivermead Golf Club in a PGA of Canada Championship. On one occasion, his ball started to move on his downswing. After birdying the hole, Stan advised his group that he was assessing himself a penalty stroke. No one had seen the ball roll except Stan and I and I learned a lot from the experience. He was a great pro to learn from.”
The comments above were made by Greg White, Ottawa PGA Golf Professional at Cedarhill Golf & Country Club during a recent conversation. Greg was a teenage member at the Chaudière Golf & Country Club and he says he learned much about golf and life just being around Stan Kolar.
A head golf professional in the Ottawa Valley during the late 1940’s into the early 1980’s, Stan Kolar was recognized during his time as one of the best ever in the country as a club-maker, teacher, player and Master professional.
Growing up in a house beside the third hole at the Lake of the Woods Golf Club in Kenora, Ontario, Stan spent his younger days playing on the fairways and rough on the golf course and quickly learned to duck when the word “FORE!’ was in the air. With a father and uncle both working at the golf club, their assurance was that a caddie position would be more lucrative and obviously safer.
After observing Stan’s dedication to the job and his thirst for knowledge about the game, head professional Jack Vernon hired him as an assistant professional when Stan was only 15 years of age. It wasn’t long before he was off to the Fort Francis Golf Club as their head professional/greenkeeper.
World War 2 and a four-year stint in the Royal Canadian Air Force interrupted Stan’s golf career, but in 1948 it resumed with the head pro position at Joe Saxe’s Gatineau Golf Club in Aylmer, Quebec. After four years, Stan moved down the Aylmer Road to J. P. Maloney’s Chaudière (now the Chateau Cartier) Golf Club where he would stay for thirty years until his retirement in 1982.
Out of necessity Stan learned the art of club repair and club-making. In his early years, golf professionals would have to send clubs back to the factory for repair and it would take a month or more to get them back. All the while, players were waiting for the return of their favourite equipment. Many golfers also purchased and used his Tee Line brand of golf clubs in the area.
I remember a story told by the late John Green (Greensmere Golf & Country Club designer). A group of golf professionals were standing with Stan Kolar at a CPGA event at the Royal Montreal admiring a new driver that Stan had made. Moe Norman walked over, asked Stan if he could try it, dropped a ball and hit it a long distance straight down the fairway. Moe’s assessment – “Nice club Stan, nice club. You’ll never see a better shot hit with it, never a better shot.” Coming from Moe, that was high praise indeed on Stan’s workmanship.
As a teacher, Stan was in demand for lessons by not only beginners to the game and veteran amateurs but also many local professionals looking for a tuneup or a swing flaw correction. Stan would become only the third PGA of Canada golf professional to be awarded Master Professional status in Canada in 1977.
To become a Master Professional, Stan had to adhere to a strict set of criteria including: being an active member of the Association for 15 years; passing an initial comprehensive examination by a PGA of Canada Board; successfully completing a management seminar; completing a 3,500 word golf instructional thesis and achieving a competent level of playing ability.
Stan’s thesis titled “Teaching Methods” is still recognized as a good read. To date, there are only 24 PGA of Canada golf professionals who have achieved Master Professional status. Three other Master Professionals with ties to the Ottawa area are the late Raymond Haines (1986), Roy Vicckies (2003) and Henry Brunton (2012).
In a 1982 Ottawa Citizen article titled “Chaudière ‘s golfing legend has proved a master of his art” written by the late Eddie MacCabe, Stan was questioned about the most common faults he had seen in players through the years. His answers are probably still relevant today.
His first observation was on players “keeping their head down” and thus losing the ability to get through the ball by locking themselves up. Secondly, he talked about players “hitting the ball instead of trying to make a swing to direct the club properly to the ball”. Stan was a big believer in the importance of tempo and rhythm in the golf swing.
As a player, Stan had his moments. He was the winner of the Quebec Open in 1964 and from information found in his photo album – winner in many local pro-am’s and Open Championships held at the Chaudière, Gatineau, Glenlea and Lachute Golf Clubs among others. Stan also finished in second place in two National PGA of Canada Senior Championships.
Stan was always ready to give back to the game.
He served on the Boards of both the Ottawa Valley Professional Golfers ‘ Association and the Ottawa Zone of the Canadian Professional Golfers Association. He organized a Business Administration course at Algonquin College geared to the needs of zone professionals and assisted in the organization of golf packages to Florida.
At the National level, Stan chaired a seminar on golf club design and repairs at Humber College in Toronto.
“I’m quite proud of this,” Stan was quoted by the media on his being named Canadian Professional Golfers’ Association Club Professional of the year in 1978. He continued, “So many nice things have happened to me in the last few years. To be acknowledged by your peers is the nicest thing that can happen to you.” “If I was on the selection committee, there would have been 50 others I would have chosen before me”.
The Kolar families are well known in the Ottawa area. Stan’s wife Marie was one of the top players at Chaudière and their two daughters (Lynn & Tracey) continue to play and enjoy the game. Stan’s son Terry is also a PGA of Ottawa golf professional and has held the head professional positions at Kanata and Pakenham Golf and Country Clubs. Stan’s brother Joe was the head golf professional at the Mississippi Golf Club in Carleton Place from 1959-1991 and Joe’s son Dan has been the head professional/manager at the Mississippi since 2008 after serving as head professional/manager at Irish Hills and Manderley On The Green Golf Clubs.
Stan Kolar was recognized by the PGA of Ottawa with their naming of their Senior Professional’s Championship trophy in his memory. Stan’s son Terry has won the trophy three times since 2007.
A legend in the Ottawa golf community, Stan passed away all too soon on December 23, 2002.