toneypenna with Grant Fuhr

Speaking with another Tuna-Mate recently, I was telling him how I used to play at a CC in Buffalo where all of the Buffalo Sabres  hockey players have always belonged to. I have been very fortunate to get to know probably 40 of them over a 20-25 year span, and I can tell you that not only are they the nicest guys, the majority of them can hit that little white ball really well.  From Jim Schoenfeld to Don Edwards to Alexander Mogilny and Dale Hawerchuk to Matthew Barnaby, I teed it up and heard some awesome hockey stories from these guys. In future posts, I will tell a few of these stories, and on a couple, I will have to leave out the names to protect me from them-lol.

Edwards, Hawerchuk and Grant Fuhr were all basically scratch golfers, and Fuhr and Edwards even flirted with becoming pros after their hockey careers ended. I have seen Fuhr on TV in the “Rick Rhoden Tour” (that that sure was nice of NBC to set that up for Rick and Dan Quinn to make money after retiring, wasn’t it?) Most hockey players have a similar, flat swing, honed by years of slapshots (even the goalies!), that results in a very low, flat ball that stays in play. Most of them are very competitive, LOVE to bust balls on the course and drink beer on and off of it, and love the juice of $5 Nassaus & greenies betting (not easy for a kid like me that started playing w/ Shony (whose kids I would occasionally babysit to pay off my loss) and Jerry “King Kong” Korab at 15, and moved up to betting a couple hundy w/ Edwards & crew when I was 27. It sucked having to go to my Dad to temporarily cover my losses, knowing if I told my new wife that not only did we pay a lot to belong to a CC that she didn’t use except to eat and swim, but her wonderful new hubby just lost $325 on a Saturday morning AM friendly” to a guy making 15 times what I did.

Alex Mogilny was the strangest dude of the group, probably because he defected from Russia as a teenager and then had money, but was stuck in Buffalo.

Alex bought cars like spencer buys putters. He rented a house in Malibu one summer, and drove back cross country in a brand new Bentley he bought out there. He shows up at the club, and parks next to his dirt-covered Lamborghini that he had left in the parking lot 3 months earlier.  One time, he had a party at his new house, a 7,500 square foot McMansion, and when we walked in, the family room was the only thing furnished in the entire house!

He developed a fear of flying, so, for a while, the Sabres started “limo-ing” him to any games that were possible (anything from Chicago east, down to DC). I went on one game (he was always taking guys, due to boredom), and he told me stories of shakedowns by the Russian mob, and that all the NHL’ers at the time were paying. Never a dull moment with Alex.

While this post may come off to some as a “name-drop” post, it was really meant as more as an inside look at how professional athletes love golf as an outlet as much as weekend wannabees  like ourselves. Hope you took it that way!