We don’t know when this interview will be published but should be on the Golf Ontario site soon. I love the game, the smells, the company, and the game’s simple ability to give me 4 uninterrupted hours with people I love the most. My family, friends, and one day, Wayne Gretzky.
I’ve already golfed with Joe Carter, Charles Barkley, Gordie Howe, Johnny Bower, Bo Jackson, Ian Leggatt (who I beat hungover with three clubs in my bag…that’s a lie), and Alex Lifeson. Wayne’s next.
Dean Blundell Interview With Golf Ontario
Despite the world looking out their windows with concern about health and finances during this global pandemic, some people have been able to continue their business and grow them successfully. A perfect example is Dean Blundell and his website, podcast, and social media feed.
(Johnny Bower, Gordie Howe, Dean)
The radio host brought his often cutting edge content to the airwaves during a roller-coaster career path on the likes of The EDGE 102.1 and FAN590 until he left the airwaves in early 2017. He now appears on 94.9 The Rock with morning hosts Craig Venn & Lucky a number of times a week and continues growing his digital presence. His website deanblundell.com contains live streaming, podcasts, interviews, and content. Over the past eight weeks he’s seen the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic with increased numbers, as people are craving entertainment.
Like everyone, his days are spent in isolation with his family and children and states, “I don’t touch homeschooling…why would I want to do that!”. Thankfully they are all older and the high school system is a fairly self-sufficient program requiring minimal assistance.
Blundell radiates fun and celebration when speaking with him about the things he loves and is passionate about. He stands for things he believes in and won’t hesitate to speak his mind or give an honest opinion, which has caused career and personal upheaval over the years. Those situations made him reflect and make personal life adjustments including getting healthy and stepping away from alcohol over three years ago. A life change that gave him a fresh outlook on everything including friends, family, career and just being an all-round good person.
His passion for golf is felt in his enthusiasm when he speaks of the game. He loves every aspect of the game of golf down to the attire. “I love every part of the game, the Zen properties, the gentlemen’s sportsmanship, flipping a tee to decide who is away, not wearing a hat in the clubhouse, to even cleaning my clubs and I don’t like cleaning anything!”, he laughs.
Blundell describes a round of golf as an enjoyable process. “It’s one of those things I can always do and always enjoy. It’s four to five hours depending where you play, where you can forget about everything. You can challenge yourself and have great conversations while being in the sun or listening to the sounds of the environment around you while someone is putting out”. Blundell is, in fact, quite the golfer who is capable of putting together some solid rounds and embraces the unknown of how a day on the course can play out. “I’m that crazy individual who gets up on the first tee with a goofy grip and beats the crap out of the ball and goes ‘ok, if I can go low in the first few holes I’m good and play a round close to par’. Or, you take a double on the first hole and say to yourself ‘this course is going to kick the crap out of me for the next 17 holes’.
He credits “wanting to spend time with my dad”, as the reason for getting into golf during his upbringing. “I used to chase him around the course when I was a kid and he wouldn’t let me join him until I could play, and then I beat him the first time we played”.
That historic first round of golf, he asked his mom to borrow clubs and remembers chasing his dad down a gravel road after he had left without him. Determined to play, he walked the two miles to the course and caught up with his Dad on the third hole. When his dad was made to realize that he had left him behind, they began to play and have played ever since. “My Dad and I are golf buddies and it’s my favourite round of golf every time. Golf brought the two of us closer together and gave us time to spend together and talk”.
With some of the life changes Blundell has made over the years, golf played a small yet therapeutic role in his life and he states that he has lived a couple of different lives. “Up until I was 30 the idea of drinking while golfing was absurd because I wanted to remember the round. Then in my early 30’s I was called ‘Swing Oil’ because golf was a reason to go out and drink and booze made everything better. When I made the decision to stop drinking a few years ago I didn’t golf because that was where you would drink”.
Blundell’s heartfelt description of that first round with his dad is a perfect example of Golf Ontario’s slogan, ‘Shaping Lives Through Golf’. “During those first couple of weeks of being sober I went to visit my Dad in London and talked about everything.He lives on RiverBend Golf Club and we went out and I stepped up on the first tee and hit the ball about 330 up the centre of the fairway. I sat back in the cart and completely broke down. I birdied the first hole despite crying the entire first hole. It was safe, being with my Dad was safe, I was golfing again and out doing something I used to love and all of it was safe. My relationship with my family revolves around the sport”.
In this current unsettled time as the industry opens up, golf will hopefully again become a safe place for many reasons. It now has a new process and protocol of how a round of golf takes place, but the game will provide an outlet on so many levels. “I can’t wait for that first round when I slam my trunk with my shirt untucked and I see my Dad and tuck it in, and give him a hug and he says ‘Lead the way’, and you hit that first ball. For so many people who grew up with golf, it’s a touchstone and it centres me because I know I’m there. It’s safe…….unless someone hit’s into me” he laughs.
We are all craving that escape from reality even more than ever, given the current state of the world. We all dream of that first tee and now that golf in Ontario is open golf has already happened for some. We look to find those Zen qualities and tuning out the world for a while. Blundell craves the same escape and what a round of golf does for ones’ psyche.
“I don’t think about anything, I put my phone in my bag and forget and when I pick up my phone I get filled with anxiety again and get in my car and life returns to normal. But you can suspend reality when you are on a golf course with the people you love. I can be myself and joke around and I can play a bit so it’s more fun. I’m a bit of golf snob though, I don’t want to golf with people who pick blueberries and take forever deciding on what colour tee to use”, he jokes.
Blundell completely agrees that golf offers the perfect outlet for getting outside, being active, and has always lent elements of social distancing for years. The implications of having to deal with a cycle of being safe and isolation again is a scary thought. So as we are coming out of our first weekend back on the greens after the Province gave the go-ahead to start up Golf on May 16th, we patiently wait as a community, a province and a country, to see if the process and operations were put in place correctly right from the first tee.
As with anyone in the public eye, Blundell sees the invites come in each season to participate in charity golf events supporting various causes. While he enjoys lending his support to select golf fundraising events, he admits they make for a long day on the course and they “usually involve cheating to win a golf bag and I’m out the minute frisbee appears” he laughs.Those events and the connections he has in the industry have allowed for some special rounds with various “celebrities”. He is a good friend of former PGA Tour Pro Ian Leggatt which has provided numerous fun experiences on the course and some fun (off the record) stories. He states that he is always in awe of the way Leggatt can shape the ball and the ball flight. Blundell claims that over the years he has also played with the likes of Ronald McDonald and Grimace. As well as Alex Lifeson who he says is one of the nicest gentlemen you could meet. “Those rounds are always fun but my favourite round is still with my Dad”.
When asked who his Ultimate Foursome would include the answer comes easily. “That would have to be Wayne Gretzky, my Dad and Patrick Reid because I would love to watch him lose his marbles!” he laughs.
As we all know, the province of Ontario provides some of the best golfing experiences in the world and host some of the best clubs and facilities in North America. Blundell agrees and lists some of his favourites as being “Coppinwood, where I was a member for a while. Cedar Brae Golf Club with the elevations and its’ tight track with all the trees and it’s always in pristine condition. But I think my all time favourites in Ontario are probably Rocky Crest and Lake Joseph. I love the feeling of hitting a driver off the deck. There is nothing better than getting up and seeing space in front and a wide space to let it out”.
As we move slowly but surely towards a slightly normal way of life, which now includes golf, Blundell is excited about that first round and can’t wait for the moment when he walks from the parking lot to meet his Dad on the first tee (after tucking in his shirt), and hearing the words, “Lead the way!