The Links of Friendship Tournament Celebrating 50 Years

Some of the original participants in the Links of Friendship Front Row (Left to Right): Chuck Lemenchick, Rick Smith, Bob Lemenchick, Mike Moore, Muzz Wren, Bob Cox Second Row (Left to Right): Brian Kelly, Bill Butson, Rocky Lemenchick, Larry Armatage, Al Stitt Third Row (Left to Right): Dan Ryan, Bill Cox, Mike Kelly

Back in 1968, the Kanata Golf & Country Club and Algonquin College were in their initial year of operation; the three branches of the Canadian Forces were unified and the Ottawa Rough Riders won the Grey Cup with a 17-14 score over the Calgary Stampeders.

In the Upper Ottawa Valley that year, the Gordon Cup (begun in 1930) was won by Pembroke; the O’Brien Cup (1933) was won by Deep River and the Blakely Cup (1961) for junior competition was also won by Pembroke.

The Renfrew Golf Club, formed in 1929, was celebrating 39 years of operation.

It was at this time that Mike Moore had a goal to bring together old friends from the Renfrew area who had moved to other areas, play a little golf and catch up on old times while socializing. Thus, The Links of Friendship Golf Tournament was born. Mike and 28 friends met at the Renfrew Golf Club in 1968 to play in the first tournament.

The number of players in the annual event at the Renfrew Golf Club has fluctuated, but those who have participated through the ensuing years have enjoyed the golf and through the social events catching up with old friends. The Links of Friendship Golf tournament will be celebrating its 50th Anniversary at the Renfrew Golf Club on Friday, June 22nd and Saturday, June 23rd, 2018.

Tournament organizer Mike Moore tells the story of the golf tournament he started in 1968.

“The name “Links of Friendship” is significant to me because we’re talking about golf links and we’re talking about linking friends together. What happened in 1968 was we’d all grown up in Renfrew in the 50’s and guys went all sorts of different places for jobs because there are never enough jobs in a small town and I missed everybody. So, I thought they all liked to play golf, so why not invite them to play golf and we can have a nice weekend together, figure out what everybody is doing and how they’re doing. We had a great time and it built from there. Eventually we had people coming from Europe and as far away as Vancouver. They came from a lot of different places. One guy was a jet pilot and he used to fly his jet in to Ottawa. He’d fly over the golf course, dip his wings, land in Ottawa and an hour and a half later he’d arrive at the golf course in his car. It’s significant that people cared enough to keep coming back and see their friends. At one point, we’d have close to 200 people playing golf. In the last few years we’ve only had 85 or 90. This year, because it’s the fiftieth I think we’ll have about 150 people play.

On Friday night, we’re going to have a Renfrew Nostalgia Night. I have a bunch of old videos and pictures of people and buildings going back through the years. On Saturday evening it’s a Links of Friendship Nostalgia Night and I have videos dating back through the years. We’re going to recognize those who have passed on, we’re going to recognize our former winners and the original participants. The majority of the weekend is to get together with old friends and talk about the good old days and how you are doing and all that sort of stuff.”

Flagstick asked Mike about what it means to him to have his Links of Friendship gathering reach its 50th Anniversary.

“For me, I did it simply because I really, really like the people that I grew up with and I missed them. And for me each year is getting the opportunity to see my old friends. That’s all the payment I ever wanted. When you grow up in a small town, you’re very close to people and you trust, like and enjoy them. They are all real friends. The definition of a friend is a person that really knows you and despite that, they still like you. I hope that everyone that comes back feels the same way.”

Flagstick wishes all participants in the 50th Annual Links of Friendship tournament a wonderful weekend. It’s certainly nice to see old friends re-uniting, exchanging stories and just catching up with each other.

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