Ward Stouffer experienced both sides of life as a golf professional, from the nomadic existence of a touring pro, to the more anchored lifestyle of a club pro.
Stouffer, head pro and director of golf from 1996 to 2015 at the Fairwinds club in Nanoose Bay, died last week of a heart attack at the age of 56.
“Ward was a pro’s pro,” said Lance McCullough, head professional at Cordova Bay Golf Club.
Stouffer came out of Burnaby and grew to be a six-foot-eight ball-pounder who placed in the top-five at both the 1983 and 1984 Canadian Amateur and was named to the B.C. Willingdon Cup team and the Canadian team to the Eisenhower Cup in 1984.
Stouffer’s decade as a touring pro, beginning in 1986, took him through seven seasons on the Canadian Tour and three on the Asian Tour.
Both the touring and club aspects of his career are being remembered.
“He loved golf and displayed a great passion for it,” said McCullough.
“His door was always open and he was always there with a quick joke or a quip. He was a big part of the PGA of B.C. [serving two terms on the board and being named B.C. head pro of the year in 2006].
“His death came as a shock. Our industry is poorer for not having Ward around anymore.”
McCullough remembers an imposing physical stature that was belied by a gentle nature off the course.
“[Stouffer] was quite a presence,” he said. “He could really hit the ball but he had so many other tools, too.”
Grant Skellern, who spent 40 years in the golf industry as an equipment rep, first met Stouffer at the Burnaby Mountain club when the latter was 17 years old.
“Ward never changed. He was the same guy at 17 that he was when I last saw him three weeks ago,” said Skellern, who now helps out around the Morningstar course in Parksville.
“He was a true gentle giant. Nobody ever had a bad word to say about Ward Stouffer. He was a very good player, and he would play with anybody.”
Stouffer’s widow Shelly was also an accomplished golfer and won the B.C. women’s mid-amateur in 2016. The couple’s sons are Kent and Brett.
A celebration of life is being held today at 1 p.m. at the Parksville Community and Conference Centre.
> Fundraising campaign to help Ward Stouffer's family, at https://www.gofundme.com/t8zq2vbw