Some people collect stamps. For others it’s old coins or baseball cards.
But for Calgary’s Jack Armstrong it’s golf balls. But only golf balls that have logos on them.
He has well over 5,000 of them - all unique - displayed on shelves that line every wall of his home's basement: red ones, orange, green and white ones--even three black balls with the Three Stooges on them, one for each of Curly, Larry and Moe. He got those three balls from a friend who saw them in Costa Rica. As long as they’ve got a logo on them, Jack will take them.
“It started as a joke. I found a golf ball with a logo one day when I was looking for one of mine in the trees in the early 1980’s," said Armstrong, 93, who believes he got that first logo ball at Calgary's Highland Golf Course that once sat on 42 Ave NW.
"I told one of the guys I was playing with I was going to start collecting them. I wasn’t really serious, and I never thought it would go this far. But after I said it, friends would start bringing me balls with different logos. 'Here Jack, I got another golf ball for you, they'd say, and it just kept growing."
To display all the balls, Jack started building shelves from 2x12 inch planks.
“I’ve run out of shelves and room so I’ve got a bunch of other ones in buckets, boxes and ice-cream pails. Those ones are going to stay where they are," he said.
While the Three Stooges balls are his favourite, he’s also got thousands from golf courses in the U.S., Canada and Scotland, including one from St. Andrews.
“I like them all. They’re all unique and have their own stories."
Does he play, or just collect?
“Oh God yes I play golf. I love it. I’m not very good but I like to be out in the fresh air. But I’ve also played in the rain or even the snow," Armstrong said, about golfing for over 40 years. The Edmonton native, who joined the military after moving to Calgary in 1946, said he and a few friends would play 18 holes in Lethbridge on a yearly trip--six days straight every time.
Even at 93 Jack is always busy. Golf in the spring, summer and fall and just about anything else in the other months.
“I’ll go to the Legion sometimes for a beer. I repeat ‘a beer', or I’ll go all over the place with a lady friend of mine," he said. "I'm almost never home."
When the courses are open, Armstrong says he is usually at the golf course, especially Shaganappi course in west Calgary.
“People ask me how I do it at my age and I always say I just do it. It keeps me out of trouble.”
Shaganappi is where he got one of his two holes-in-one. The first one was at the Highland.
“I never saw either of them go in. At Highland I hit the ball and never saw it. When the guys I was playing with said ‘It’s in the hole’ I said ‘No, it isn’t it.’ But when we got to the hole there it was," remembered Armstrong. "The one at Shaganappi was the same thing,” he told CTV Calgary’s Glenn Campbell, who recently did a profile on him.
“I never saw it and (the guys I was playing with) said ‘It’s in the hole.’ I said ‘It’s over the green.' But there it was in the hole again.”
“My ambition is that when I die, I want to die on the golf course. Like Bing Crosby,” said Armstrong of the late crooner who died on a golf course in Spain in 1977.
“Hopefully that’s not for a while yet. I’ve had a good career; I’m happy.”
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