16 Sep 2020 | Amateur golf |
Recollections of the Late Ross A Schultz
Written by John Anderson - with thanks to Peter Schultz, John Osterman, Clive Renner and Trevor Smith for their invaluable inputs.
I knew Ross Schultz in my working life and when he passed in May 2018, there was an obituary in the Advertiser based around his many achievements as an engineer. However, it was at the Thaxted Park SOOM event this year that I was looking at the names of the winners of the Club Championships – Joyner, Cooper, Percey etc – that I noted a name I knew well 1965 – “R A Schultz” and that raised my interest to do some research into Ross’s outstanding golfing career.
Ross Schultz’s golfing career was well before Senior Golf as we now know and enjoy came into being in SA, but if he had been around he certainly would have been a significant competitor.
Whilst I associated Ross with Flagstaff Hill Golf Club, I realised that his win at Thaxted must have occurred very early in his career – prior to joining Flagstaff and building his house adjacent to the practice fairway.
In preparing this piece, I asked a former Sola work colleague and Flagstaff Hill pennant player in John Osterman for his recollections of Ross. John joined FHGC in 1969/70 and also won a Flaggy mixed-foursomes with Jane Crafter.
“Ross was a very inquisitive person and once something caught his interest, he was an intense researcher with a drive for perfection the only acceptable outcome. This was evident in his personal and professional life, best described by his rapid progression through the grades of the golfing world. Beginning at the age of 40, by 42 he was playing off scratch and setting the standard for Flagstaff Hill’s rise through the Interclub Pennant campaign. Under Ross’s leadership and the enthusiasm of the club professional, Brian Crafter, the committee attracted a field of players that would take the club from C Grade pennant to the ultimate Simpson Cup. Ross had a thirst for the success of the team and every member of the team. Ross was always looking to learn and so he would play with many members of the club as he continued to research the mechanics of the game. Ross did not have a Ben Hogan or Jack Nicklaus swing (who does) but through his appreciation of the mechanics’ eye ball coordination, he managed to produce a swing that he would repeat and repeat and repeat. (Don’t we all seek this!) Once the swing was in place, he would turn his attention to the tactics of playing a round of golf, especially the joys of Match Play Golf. I am sure that his mental strength brought him many victories against more credentialed players in the pennant season. I have a special memory of Ross on how he turned my lowest golfing point into a special round of golf. I knew nobody at the club say a handful of players and some committee members. We were all decked out in our pennant uniform, introduced to the membership and assembled on the first tee for a practice round. I came to the club with a low single figure handicap and at this point felt the weight of expectation with my performance. Last player to tee off in the first group, I had an air swing, I wanted to just disappear, have the ground swallow me up. Ross of course was in the last of five 4 balls to hit off and witnessed my emotion. He broke the silence with a mock kick in the backside, I smacked the ball down the fairway with the next attempt. Ross walked with me to my second shot, no lecture, no suggestion, no empathy, just a life ethic; don’t let my last shot determine how I approach the next (in simple terms). Ross was Ross”
Personally, I first met Ross in late 1967 when I started my first job at Scientific Optical Laboratories of South Australia – later to become Sola Optical but then a small company of some 60 employees based at Black Forest. Ross Schultz had an engineering business at 767 Port Road and Sola was his agent to supply his range of optical surfacing machinery and associated spare parts and equipment. One of my early duties was to order these from Ross and send them on to our customers which meant many trips to Ross’s plant.
At that time I was an aspiring cricketer and as Ross had previously played at Woodville District Cricket Club we formed a common interest bond.
I certainly knew nothing about golf nor had any interest but it was often talked about by Ross and his accountant over the next few years, the late Malcolm Davis, who defeated Ross to win a Flagstaff Hill Club Championship.
Golf was also very much to the fore within Sola with Company Chairman, the late D L Pank being the initial Flagstaff President and a key driver to the club’s establishment and Technical Director, Mr Ron Ewer, the first Club Captain and Champion so maybe it was being ingrained into me.
I continued to have dealings with Ross when both Sola and his company moved to Lonsdale on neighbouring properties up until the time that Ross sold to an American company. In fact, Ross, who’s company also made automotive dynamometers, sponsored my rally car when I pursued this sport in the early ‘70’s !
I retired from cricket and joined FHGC in 1988 – armed with the thought of others that my cricket skills would easily transfer to golf – as a fast bowler I don’t think there was much logic to this at all! Once a member, I studied the Honour Boards and started to realise how good a golfer Ross was and learnt about this legend of the Club.
Ross joined Flagstaff Hill Golf Club on 25th September 1968 and remained a member until the end of the 1996-1997 season then holding a Country Membership. He maintained a low single figure handicap for most of his playing time at the club – remember that this was under the system when low handicaps were much rarer than nowadays.
• Ross won the Flagstaff Hill Club Championship 4 times - in 1969, 1971, 1973 and 1976. • Ross also won the Club Foursomes Championship 9 times with Gordon Dick in the inclusive years 1969-1977 • Ross won the Club Mixed Foursomes Championship with Jane Crafter in 1972 • Ross played a key role in Pennant Golf for FHGC from when the club entered the SA Pennant competition in 1974 - was Pennant Captain in the team that won the 1979 Division 3 Pennant competition (in a team including a relative young Clive Renner) . He finished playing Pennant golf in the early eighties, then into his 60’s but still competitive
Speaking of Ross and pennants, Ross’s son Peter, sent me a fascinating article written by Geoff Roach some 51 years ago when Ross was 50. A key point was an observation from FHGC Pro, Brian Crafter, on Ross being “an outstanding prospect”! – the report also mentions that Ross’s efforts on the first hole were far from impressive with two sliced way out-of-bounds but then Ross recovered to win 8 of the next 9 holes including 7 straight to easily defeat his Riverside opponent!
During the mid-sixties, Ross had a young Western Australian amateur golfer billeted with him during an interstate series – this was the start of a life-long friendship with one of Australia’s finest in Graham Marsh who continued to stay with him whenever he came to SA. Old FHGC members recall Graham practising on the range – after all it was just outside Ross’s back gate!
I am told that Graham, Ross and partner-in-crime, Gordon Dick, would spend many hours late into the night discussing the finer points of golf technique – there is even a mention of a broken lamp which did not please Mrs Schultz.
In 1978 through his Sola connections, Ross moved to the US as a consultant engineer to Sola USA, based in Petaluma, Northern California. Here he joined the Petaluma Golf and Country Club and garnered yet another Club Championship.
Ross relocated to a farm at Wrattonbully in the SE in around 1980 – built a workshop there and joined Naracoorte Golf Club where he established another legend status - many young players from the South East have mentioned being suitably sorted by Ross in pennant matches down there where he played into his seventies.
During last year’s SA Seniors I was delighted to see Ross’s name on the Honour Boards at Naracoorte Golf Club – Champion at his 4th club in 1982, 1984 and 1987 when he was 68 – indeed a remarkable achievement. Throw in 3 holes-in-one as well.
Trevor Smith, 2019 SA SOOM winner and Naracoorte member waxes lyrical when asked about the enjoyment he got in playing many rounds with Ross plus his great popularity down there as a character and story teller.
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