Guy Robineau recalled with ease the very first moment that his father (Marcel) first impacted his game of golf.
“My dad cut off a seven iron for me, as a wee little guy, taped it up with hockey tape,” noted the 56 year-old Director of Lending Solutions for Palladino Auto Group, one of a trio of three time SDSSAA boys golf champions (1982-1983-1984) since the event was first contested in 1969.
“He would bring me along with him to Cedar Green and once we were away from the clubhouse, he would drop a ball. He gave me three swings to hit the ball. If I did, I could continue hitting it. If I missed on all three swings, he would pick up the ball and drop it again some time later in his round.”
“It forced me to pay attention to striking the ball,” added Robineau. “Dad gave me purpose, right away.”
A long-time physical education teacher at Macdonald-Cartier, Marcel Robineau would pass away in 2007 - but not before creating a bond through golf that will live on forever, in part due to the fact that Guy’s most noteworthy accomplishments in the sport occurred with dad at his side.
Ironically, though Marcel was immersed in all things sports, golf was very much a later in life passion, yet one that he worked hard to master. “He was about 5’5”, a stocky guy, left-handed - and really could not play golf very well,” said Robineau with a smile. “But he was a very good coach.”
“He picked up a Jack Nicklaus book on the fundamentals of golf and that’s how he applied his coaching knowledge to me. He was really my only coach. When I needed a little tweaking, I needed to get his eyes on my swing.”
In complete fairness to Marcel’s golfing abilities, we should note that his son still holds the course record of 64 at the Rivermead Golf Course (Aylmer, PQ), breaking the mark (in 1997) that was previously held by visiting pros Ben Crenshaw and Craig Stadler.
Perspective is everything.
A fairly talented AAA hockey player in his own right, Guy Robineau took quickly to golf. “I really did well as a kid, winning junior events in my age category and north of my category. I attribute that early success to my love of the game. I enjoyed it so much, and dad and I played it a lot.”
“That was pretty cool stuff.”
While he clearly knew his way around a golf course, Robineau was not nearly as well schooled in understanding how exactly to navigate the next step in his progression, eventually finding his way, somewhat haphazardly, to Florida Atlantic University. “We didn’t have portfolios of our tournaments back then, with statistics and data and all of your eating habits and training habits and such,” he said.
“We didn’t know much about how things worked in the U.S. - we were left to fend for ourselves. Really, I went down on a whim.” Ill-prepared for what awaited him, the result was foreseeable, with Robineau returning home within a calendar year.
“I spent a little bit of time down there, but didn’t quite know what I was doing.” And though he would eventually go on to earn both his B Com in Economics as well as an MBA, the study habits may have lagged a little behind his skills with the clubs. “I was not the most disciplined at school,” said Robineau.
“Those early days were rough, rough, rough.”
And so he veered towards the world that he knew well, working as an assistant golf pro locally as well as in Winnipeg (St Boniface Golf Club) and then at Rivermead. Though he would enjoy some success as a member of the PGA of Canada, Robineau gradually set aside his dreams of golf as a profession, opting to focus on a career in finance, all while seeking his reinstatement to amateur status.
The cross-over of those two worlds produced his greatest highlights. “There were two to three years as a golf pro where I was on point with my game - but my best success came as an amateur in the mid-1990s,” said Robineau. “That’s when things really clicked.”
It was a time when opportunities on the links of the Ottawa region were bountiful. “It was really well set-up for the amateur golfer who loved to compete,” stated the gent who would qualify for both provincial and national amateur championships. “You had a chance to compete, and compete frequently.”
It was right in the middle of that stretch that circumstances combined to find a foursome of Robineau and his father, cousin Pat Laferriere and friend Denis Marleau teeing off one Saturday at Rivermead.
After just four holes, Robineau sat at five under par. “I can tell you almost every shot and the club that I used that day,” he said. “I’ve had some great scores before - 66, 67, 68 - but all I kept thinking that day was where can I get my next birdie.”
“There was no fear.”
A year later, with his father serving as his caddie, Robineau claimed the OVGA (Ottawa Valley Golf Association) title for the first and only time. Then came adversity.
Around the year 2000, Robineau entered that horrible spiral where the physical and mental combine to create a downward trend that is near impossible to break. “I got into a really terrible funk with my golf game.” he said. “My mechanics were terrible and I didn’t know who to get out of it.”
“It wasn’t even the ability to shoot par or 80 or 75 - I couldn’t hit the ball, period. There were times when the anxiety of playing golf was so bad that I couldn’t even draw the golf club back - and when I did, I couldn’t finish the swing.”
His struggles defined him, consumed him. “As Carol (spouse - Carol Craig) will attest, it ate me alive,” said Robineau. “I had completely lost my way to playing this game, even for the fun of it.”
Yet in that same fraction of time that it took his swing to desert him, it returned, with a little help, roughly five years ago. “I was struggling for nearly 15 years, wondering what happened, and this guy (Ryan Hulley - Toronto) fixed me in five minutes,” laughed Robineau. “I drove down four hours to see him and after seeing him for five minutes, he says we’re done.”
Adjusting the positions of his hand on the club, the local man worked for three years on overcoming what he termed an ”abnormal feeling”. These days, the confidence is back in his game. “I won’t be a scratch handicap, but I’ll be a five, a six, a seven handicap. And that, for Guy Robineau, is an enjoyable round of golf.”
Just the way that he remembered so many rounds of golf, with his father at his side.