Bob Haviland Speaks: Five months ago, we had an Amateur Tournament here at Woodbrook, in Lakeland, Fl. We`ve held this tournament every January now for 7 or 8 yrs, I`d guess, and if the weather cooperates, we get a pretty good turnout. So here I am, helping out, talking with different people while they`re not playing, (yea, I like talking Shuffleboard)… anyway, I tell one guy I was a Pro, and that I had made Pro many years ago. No big deal, right? Guess what his response was… “OH, it was easy back then!!”, and he was serious….huh??..that, I mean that, wasn`t exactly the response I was expecting. Here`s this Amateur, playing in an Amateur tournament, not even a State Amateur, who`s probably got a few months under his belt playing shuffleboard, telling me “it was easy back then”, like he`d know.
So time goes by, I get an email from Earl Ball, asking me about writing something for The Shuffler. I thought, OK, maybe I could write something, what else have I got to do.. but what? Hmmm.. Then it hit me…how about that short, but oh so sweet conversation, that I had with this guy back in January. You know, the “it was easy” thingy…Ha!
Now folks, I don`t write for a living, my memory isn’t that good anymore, and my shuffleboard play has gone downhill steadily. So take that into account when you’re reading this. Thank you.
First off let me say, this isn`t just about me, and how I practiced, practiced, practiced back in the mid-1990s, and how I spent so many hours on the courts that it probably, in part, led to my divorce in 2001. True story, that`s how much time I spent playing shuffleboard, (but the divorce is a subject for another time), so back to shuffleboard…. And just to be clear, I wasn`t the only one practicing, we had many, many very good amateurs who played, played, played too.
And we didn’t just have good amateurs, but had many great players back in the day too like Skip McCoy, Mike Vassilotti, Paul Prescott, the Darwin brothers, Glen, and Earl, (Yes Earl.. even back then), just to name a few. Oh, and there were great women players too, anyone know who Joan Cook is? Yup, the one with over a thousand points, and a Green Jacket…Yea that one!!.. plus many, many more very, very tough women.
And just to make one more point about “it was easy then”, when I won a National Amateurs Singles back in 2000, (my claim to fame), there were twice as many entrants then as there were in recent years, again, not taking anything away from todays players, just a fact, the tournaments were bigger.
OK, maybe I haven`t convinced you new guys? ..lol Just want to say, the game hasn`t changed that much. We had board clearers, we had kitchen shooters, we had dominate players, we certainly had less covered courts, the disks were a bit different but it was still manno on manno, and the competition was fierce, just like today.
. Bob Haviland. 2020 05 13.