Gary Jeffrey didn’t play a lot of golf in 2015, but when he teed it up, there was usually a paycheque with his name on it at the end of the day.
The veteran golf professional from Collingwood, Ont., made the most of turning 50 carding three victories and three second place finishes on the way to winning PGA of Ontario Senior Player of the Year honours in 2015.
“If I counted the number of leisure rounds, or practice rounds I played last year it might have been five,” says Jeffrey who is the father of two young boys, Bennett who is four and Callen who is seven. “I would pop over to Blue Mountain Golf & Country Club a day or two before an event and hit some balls on the range and make some putts and I kept lose hitting a few balls at Golf Town, but I also didn’t want to overdo it,” added Jeffrey who battled through some recurring injuries throughout the season.
Jeffrey opened the season playing his first round of the year in his very first senior event at Black Bear Ridge Golf Club. Despite being 1-over after five holes, he carded five birdies and an eagle to win the PGA of Ontario 2015 Senior Spring Open by a single stroke at 3-under par. “That first round really set the tone for the rest of the season and I decided I was going to go out and try to win as many events as possible,” who spent the past three and a half years as a teaching professional at Golf Town in Barrie and is currently looking at new opportunities, after Golf Town axed close to 50 PGA of Canada teaching professionals last November as part of a corporate restructuring.
“I still remember when I was an assistant in my hometown at King’s Forest GC in Hamilton and just out of college looking for my first professional win back in 1989 and in 2015 it felt like I was a rookie again,” says Jeffrey, who has worked at numerous clubs around the province including Hamilton G&CC, Crosswinds G&CC, Cranberry Resort, The Golf Club at Lora Bay, Brooklea G&CC and Owen Sound G&CC.
At the PGA of Ontario Summer Challenge at Lookout Point CC Jeffrey won in a playoff over Keir Smith from The National Golf Club of Canada to secure his second victory of the year and he would go on to finish second at the PGA of Ontario Senior Championship at Flamborough Hills Golf Club behind Ian Doig.
Jeffrey returned to the winner’s circle in the Senior Fall Classic at Peterborough Golf & Country Club where he finished at 2-under for a two-stroke win over David Banks. “I hit the ball really well in Peterborough and had an eagle on 17, which proved to be the turning point,” he says. “Finishing strong seemed to be a big part of the success for the year.”
At the Mr. Lube PGA Seniors’ Championship of Canada presented by Adams Golf at Credit Valley Golf and Country Club in Mississauga, Jeffrey finished T11 at 1-over for three rounds 71-74-69. “My goal going in was to be in the top-10 in my first national senior championship and I came up a little bit short of that, but I still managed a strong final round to climb back up the leaderboard. Hopefully, I’ll be in contention in 2016.”
Jeffrey also finished T2 in the PGA of Ontario Senior Pro/Junior Pro Championship with Ron Kenesky a familiar partner from Twenty Valley Golf and Country Club and T2 with another senior, Dave Wettlaufer in the PGA Team Championship Qualifier for the Nike Golf PGA Team Championship of Canada at The Mid Ocean Club in Bermuda where they went on to a respectable finish despite a disappointing opening round.
As for the future Jeffrey isn’t sure what’s in store, but that’s nothing new for this pro and many others. One thing that is for sure is that he would like to return to the winner’s circle in 2016. At the very least he will be teeing it up for some family golf with Bennett, Callen and his wife Lauren. “The first words out of Bennett’s mouth when he was one were, “Go golf” and he’d hit a golf ball around the house with a wooden spoon. I’m really looking forward to getting out there with them this summer and having some fun.”