Dave Smallwood hired Brian Jolley as the assistant general manager of the Galt Country Club three years ago.
Smallwood, who is now the director of golf operations, was the general manager at the time and knew he wouldn’t hold the position forever. It didn’t take long into the interview process for Smallwood to realize it would be Jolley who would be the person to take over the role.
“We hired him because he was a really good PGA Canada professional who had general manager experience,” Smallwood recalled of his late friend.
“He was very outgoing and particular about being organized.”
In the three years that followed, Jolley formed lasting relationships with both coworkers and members.
On Tuesday, Sept. 20, Jolley died as a result of injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident just south of Fergus. It was news that crushed the club and its members.
“It was a feeling of shock and disbelief,” Smallwood said.
“We didn’t leave the club Tuesday night thinking we wouldn't see him on Wednesday. Particularly with our management team, we're very close. We had become one unit in the last three years. The thought of not having him there was devastating. We didn't know what to do or where to turn. We had some good meetings and sessions where we hugged, laughed and cried.”
The next day the club had the unfortunate responsibility to let their members know of the tragic news.
On Saturday, 144 members took part in the annual members' closing day. It was a day that ran the full gamut of emotions, Smallwood said. It also gave members and staff plenty of opportunities to honour Jolley.
When each golfer approached the first tee they were greeted by their late friend’s club golf bag, a photo and a book of condolences.
There was also a surprise on every third hole featuring an item that was near and dear to Jolley’s heart.
“Brian had a very large staff embroidered golf bag collection,” Smallwood said.
“We put one on every third hole and members were encouraged to take pictures with it.”
While having members out on the course celebrating the life of their longtime friend provided comfort, the grieving process will continue over the coming months with constant reminders of Jolley’s impact.
“We’ll never get over the loss but were trying to move forward,” Smallwood said.
“The most difficult part about being a club with 1,000 members is every time the door opens it’s someone you haven't seen since his death.”
Everyone seemed to have good things to say about Jolley, Smallwood says, leaving no doubt about how he’ll be remembered by all who came in contact with him.
“Brian was a giving man and he was a friend to all he met,” Smallwood said.
“He touched a lot of lives and left a lot of friends behind.”
The Galt Country Club will be hosting a celebration of life for friends and family on Oct. 20.