Lac-Matic is a dairy equipment company that has been around for nearly 35 years. In 1987, Huntingdon’s Bou-Matic dealership was passed to Bronn Enterprises of Ormstown, and Lac-Matic was born – founded by Wes Ruddock, Doug Marshall, and Kenny Elder. In 1995, Elder took over the company and branched out on his own.
For decades, Lac-Matic has been organizing the annual Farmer’s Friendly Golf Tournament to take place on every second Thursday of September. Elder says that they have done so for at least 30 years consecutively, without ever having missed a year. “We’ve never been rained out completely. There have been a few times where we’ve gone up and it’s rained, but we played a few holes and more or less had a visit on the porch, regardless.” He laughs and says that the visit is what it’s all about, anyway.
One year, Elder remembers waking up to a rainstorm and worrying about whether the golf tournament should be cancelled. It was around 7 a.m. when he called his friend Lorne McNaughton, a farmer and seed seller who was also involved in the event, to see what they should do. McNaughton said, “Rain at seven, clear by eleven,” and sure enough, by tee time the skies were much clearer.
The annual gathering began when folks at Lac-Matic and a few other local companies realized they were all dealing with the same customer base, and they decided to take a day for business owners and clients to golf together. Starting in 1996, companies like Entreprises MC, Dumas Leduc CPA, and Assurances Bourgon began participating. The event has proved to be a good method to connect the community in a light-hearted way.
“The first few years we went back to McNaughton’s [afterwards] and just had hot dogs on the barbeque. We probably started off with about 15 of us,” says Elder. Throughout the years more and more customers started participating, with some of the bigger events involving up to 80 people.
The tournament is always held at the Trout River Golf Club. The hot dog barbecue got a bit of an upgrade and the golf club started to provide a cold buffet lunch for the participants. Elder explains that the day is set up ideally for farmers. From the start, “The nice thing about it that everybody liked was that we only played the 9 holes. So, we started at 10 a.m., shotgun start, [and] everyone was done at 2 p.m. You [could] have a bite to eat and a visit, and everybody was still home for chores.” About 80 per cent of the players must be home to milk cows in the afternoon.
Though this time of year is busy for many farmers, the second Thursday of the month seems to fall in a bit of a lull where taking a few hours off is possible. Elder explains, “Not a lot of farmers have started corn silage yet and the hay [is] mostly all done.”
He says “Farmers are a social bunch,” so having a gathering like this is a lot of fun and very important for mental health, especially in the past year. The focus of the tournament has never been to play the best round of golf; it’s to have fun with your peers. He jokes that “We’ve had people playing in rubber boots – one year someone even played in cowboy boots!”
Luckily, COVID-19 hasn’t broken the event’s three-decade long consecutive streak. Last year, organizers couldn’t advertise but still managed to gather 30 golfers for a socially distant round of the game. This year, on September 9, there were approximately 40 participants, all vaccinated. Though there weren’t any door prizes as in the past, they were still able to play a round, have a visit, and enjoy a return to the classic hotdog barbecue.