Gerry McMaster carried the comedian’s golf clubs during a round in 1959
By Pat Payton
Not many people can say they caddied for a famous person, but Gerry McMaster can.
The St. Marys resident carried Bob Hope’s clubs at the posh Lambton Golf and Country Club in west Toronto. The year was 1959, and McMaster was 15 at the time.
He worked at the private golf club as a caddie. McMaster’s father William was a member and sat on the Lambton club’s board of directors, and it was probably the biggest reason he got the caddying job that day.
“Bob Hope really did not want to get fussed around by people,” McMaster told the Independent in a recent interview. “Bob Hope’s people asked the club if they could make an arrangement and have a private golf course for him and his wife (Dolores) that day.”
Club closed for the afternoon
The club told the members that the course was being closed for the afternoon that day.
“The members were told not to go on the course,” McMaster recalled. “The members knew somebody was coming. They also cleared the morning golfers and got them off the course. They didn’t want the members getting autographs.”
The comedian was the headliner at the CNE at the time, “and he was really, really anxious to play golf,” McMaster remembers.
The round for the Hopes began at about 1:30 p.m.
“I thought I was going to die with those clubs,” McMaster said with a laugh. “It was a fairly heavy bag, and I was younger than most of the caddies there. It was definitely bigger than most of the bags that I carried.”
Another caddy carried Dolores Hope’s clubs, and there was also a fore-caddie. “The fore-caddie told golfers where they were supposed to be hitting to, and all the right yardage,” he explained. “There wasn’t all the GPS stuff in those days.”
McMaster said he and Hope talked “quite a bit” during the round.
“Absolutely, because I was his caddy. I was responsible for suggesting to him to hit (to an area) based on the fore-caddie. He was stationed up the fairway, watching where their balls went. The fore-caddie would say, ‘here’s your target.’ I didn’t tell (Hope) what club to use, but I was pretty good at (estimating) the yardage.”
Good golfers, nice people
McMaster said the Hopes were “very, very good” golfers.
“He had a blindingly-smooth swing. It was absolutely smooth. I’ve never seen anything like that. His wife was also very, very good. He was very relaxed; he didn’t fight the game. Frankly, it taught me how to play and have fun.”
McMaster remembers that Hope and his wife were also “very, very nice” people.
At the completion of 18 holes, Bob Hope paid McMaster $50. “It was a lot of money in those days; it sure was,” he said. “I thought I was going to get the regular $10 or $15 club caddie fee.”
While performing that night at the CNE Grandstand, Hope commented that he and his wife went golfing at the Lambton course, and joked that his caddie “helped him greatly” and helped him “find his ball.”
“I got a lot of jazz out of that when I went back to caddying,” McMaster recalled with a laugh. “A lot of people from the club were down there at the Exhibition grounds that night.”
For years, McMaster remembers having a caddie card from Lambton, signed by Hope.
In late July, 2003, Bob Hope died of pneumonia at the age of 100 at his home in Toluca Lake, California.
–The Lambton Golf and Country Club is a private golf and tennis club, established in 1902. “Because my father was there, it’s where I started playing golf,” recalled McMaster, who was a member at Lambton for about 10 years.
–McMaster was involved in real estate development for many, many years. He had a degree in architecture and he worked with architectural companies and organizations, like CIBC, across North America. “I was doing AMC movie theaters and office buildings in Chicago, Boston and New Orleans,” he said.
He retired at the age of 65, and he and his wife Susan moved to St. Marys in 2009.
–McMaster, now 76, and his wife have been members at St. Marys Golf and Country Club for the past 11 years. He golfs three times a week with the ‘Sandbaggers’ group.