It was pretty well known that Sean Connery, who died Saturday at his home in the Bahamas at the age of 90, loved to play golf.
What was perhaps less well known to the general public was that the man who made James Bond a household name on screen and was one of the biggest movie stars in the world loved to play golf in Vancouver.
Those who have played at Capilano Golf Club in West Vancouver likely know that he was a fan of the place.
“There’s no finer place to be on a Monday morning than the first tee at Capilano,” the club cites Connery as having once said.
He was also fond of playing at Furry Creek, Point Grey and Shaughnessy, others have claimed.
Credit, in a roundabout way, a movie legend from another era.
“It’s a long story, it’s a neat story,” Dr. Ted Hunt, former Vancouver teacher, athlete and school board trustee, said Saturday over the phone from his home in Kerrisdale.
When Hunt was young, he explained, he had caddied for Bing Crosby. Crosby, who was born in Tacoma and grew up in Spokane, Wash., was a regular visitor to Vancouver and would often play golf when he came to town.
Years later, well into adulthood, Hunt found himself at the Bing Crosby National Pro-Am tournament in Pebble Beach, Calif. He had secured a photographer’s credential through The Province and one day while taking in the action — the tournament drew some of the best professional golfers as well as a slew of A-list celebrities and business magnates — found himself talking to Crosby’s widow, Kathryn.
“ ‘I understand you had caddied for my husband,’ she asked me,” he recalled. “We got talking for a while and she said, ‘you should be playing in this.’ And I replied, ‘you’ve got to be at least a vice-president of U.S. Steel to play in this!’ ”
“ ‘Not if if you know the right people,’ she said.”
And so Hunt, who was inducted into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame in 1972 for his talents in football, rugby, skiing, lacrosse and boxing, played in the famed Pebble Beach event for the next three years.
At a tournament dinner in the early 1980s, Kathryn Crosby introduced him to Connery, who was also playing in the event.
Connery, she explained, had a problem and thought perhaps Hunt could help him.
“I am allowed 21 days of work in the United States, if it’s one day over they get to plunder my worldwide earnings and I’m not going to let that happen,” Hunt recalled Connery declaring to him. “So I have in my contract that if there’s a stoppage in shooting, then I am immediately taken to a limousine and the airport and I’m out of here before the tax people come.
“I can come to Canada. Could you possibly fix me up with a game of golf?”
Connery, who lived in the Bahamas for most of the last 30 years of his life for tax purposes, became a regular visitor to B.C. for the next 10 years.
“Ten wonderful years,” Hunt said.
The star would call up Hunt sometimes at work to let him know he was planning a visit. Some years he came two or three times.
“One time I was at a school where I was the vice-principal and I was sitting in my office and I heard my secretary answer the phone and suddenly say, ‘Oh yeah, yeah right.’ And then she hung up. He called back two minutes later and calmly asked her to not hang up this time,” he said with a laugh.
There were the well-known clubs mentioned earlier, but Hunt said they would play all over.
Some visits were just for a day or two. Once he stayed for a week.
“We played 36 holes per day and he loved them all. We had a lot of fun on a lot of golf courses,” he said. “We got on a float plane to fly up to Campbell River to play on a new course he wanted to play on.”
It was a special friendship, he said.
“It was very welcome. He was a golfer to the core. Even as things started to slow for him in the last year, we were still talking about golf. He was still putting and chipping when he could. He’d call me up and say, ‘Hello, Ted, how’s your game,’ ” he said, imitating Connery’s Scottish accent.
“He was something special.”
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