Robert “Bob” Bouchard arrived in Trois-Rivières 20 years ago. A trifluvian luminary in the world of golf, he is celebrating his 45 years of teaching this year and don’t think he intends to stop there. What about winter? In the past, a passion developed for wearing Santa Claus costume.
There is no denying it, Mr. Bouchard has an interesting life course interspersed with little chances here and there. Even his golfing career began in anecdotal fashion.
“My friends had an annual golf tournament with their hockey teammates. I never wanted to go there until one day they convinced me by promising to drive the kart. It was June 21, at the Hemmingford golf course. When I got there, I saw two golf bags so I asked why. The guy who was with me replied that he had brought me a bag to hit a few shots, as long as I was there, ”he recalls.
“I played all my game and I ended up with 148. It was a beautiful sunshine and I hooded on the golf course. You have no idea how I liked it! I told my boyfriend that I wanted to improve myself because the guys had all beaten me. ”
Coach Bouchard did not wait long before returning to action. Accompanied by the same friend, they went to the Repentigny practice field.
“When we got there, it was abandoned. The grass was three feet high. We walked around the building and saw a window in the basement. We broke the window and entered the cabin to walk around. I found a business card from the previous owner next to the cash register so I brought it with us, ”he says.
“The next day I called the owner and complained a bit. He told me it belonged to his boy and he didn’t want to take care of it anymore. I went to meet his son and he said to me, “It worked fine when we were open and I pay annual taxes. Wouldn’t you like to operate on him? ” All he asked me to do was pay him the annual taxes. Then I put my wife behind the counter and my daughter worked there on the weekends as well. Me, I wanted to get good at golf and practice so I hit balls. I could hit between 800 and 1000 balls a day. I even built a sand trap and it was forbidden to customers (laughs). ”
It was at this time that he learned the golf techniques that he would teach a few years later.
“I was closing the shop on a Friday night and a man knocks on the door. It was 9:15 p.m. I open and the man asks to speak to me. He had just separated and took the road to my practice area. He tells me that he has been a professional at the Granby-Saint-Paul Golf Club for six years. He didn’t have a place to sleep so I took him to my place. He stayed for two months (laughs). I hired him and he was teaching golf at the driving range. We became friends and he taught me how to be good at golf. He also showed me how to teach golf and within three years I had become really good, ”he explains.
“His name is Gerry Piette and he has become a golf professional in Rouyn-Noranda. We were going to play golf at the Epiphany at 5:45 am. We played nine holes before the opening, without paying, and we came back to work on the driving range. Even today, we call each other twice a year, on our days of celebration. ”
Mr. Bouchard will have lived in Repentigny for a decade before finding himself in Laval at the head of his own golf shop.
“I knew Bernard Trottier well and one evening he came to play in one of my golf tournaments. He was an expert in skiing and he owned a golf shop in Laval. He looks at me and he tells me that he wants me to take care of his golf shop because customers weren’t going there anymore, ”he recalls.
“I told my new wife at the time and she was an accountant. I knew how to administer and she knew how to count, so it was perfect. I went to the store and Bernard had filled it with stock, but he didn’t know anything about golf! It didn’t make sense how he bought stock. He had filled the basement as much as the floor above. He offered to work there and just give him X amount per month. I worked there for ten years. ”
Looking back, it was a great adventure. With the name “Bob” Bouchard already known from its television show, the “Bob” Bouchard Golf Boutique quickly gained popularity. Unfortunately, this story ended badly following a dozen thefts that occurred at night, which forced him to put the key in the door.
It was not until the year 2000 that he finally moved to Trois-Rivières.
“I went to the Salon national de la femme, to the Palais des congrès de Montréal, and had offered golf lessons to shoot. Moreover, the majority of my customers are female, since women are a lot more perfectionists than men. Men will play golf and if they are not good they will play the same. Women will start with golf lessons before going to play golf, ”he says.
“The woman who won my golf lessons was from Trois-Rivières and I couldn’t get there. So she went to Laval. In the second class, she told me that she was going to bring a girl friend. Well, I fell in love with her friend and I moved to Trois-Rivières. We stayed together for nine years together. Today I can swear that I will die here. I have friends here, I have my customers here, and I’m the happiest guy in the world. ”
Robert “Bob” Bouchard has also had his own golf TV show for several years, now airing on MAtv. He has been offering golf lessons at the Les Rivières Golf Club for 20 years now, from “Junior” level (from 5 years old) to adults.
“Before giving golf lessons, I found a job as a Santa Claus. I went to the Carrefour de Trois-Rivières Ouest and the girl asked me if I had a Santa Claus resume. I said no! Who owns a Santa Claus resume? She asked me how she could do to find out if I would be able. Finally, she made me do “Ho Ho Ho” and she hired me. I’ve been Santa Claus for 20 years. I spent a year at the Carrefour and 13 years at the Les Rivières shopping center, ”he adds.
“It’s such a great experience. It is the children’s gaze that is incredible! It’s worth quite a bit more than the price I’m paid. It’s magic and I love the contact with children. This year, however, it will be more difficult with the pandemic. I don’t know yet if it will be possible. “
Coach Bouchard also has five mini-golf mats in his possession with which he visits retirement homes to entertain users. He doesn’t have many regrets to this day, he who has always done what he loved in life.
“I will also continue to play music. I played bass for a long time and now I play snare (snare drum) for a year. We often play in retirement homes. My boyfriend I send songs that can be played over the Internet and I practice at home. Besides, my boyfriend who accompanies me tells the story of each song between each song, so it’s very interesting, ”he says.
“In the end, I developed as a golf teacher. My life, I earned it with teaching and I like it. It’s so rewarding. I don’t believe in retirement. I’m 75 and still having fun. I still play and I want to continue writing books, ”adds the man who wrote Bob Bouchard’s 101 golf tips and Father Christmas’s confidences. “I never wanted to get rich, but rather do what I love, at my own pace. I have a really good life! ”He concludes.