His swing was smooth, his demeanor rough.
Ronnie Boyles was like no other, on or off the golf course.
He could rile, charm, anger, amuse, aggravate and hearten all in the span of a single round.
At first I thought he was nothing but a gruff golfer that considered Labatt Blue as essential to a round as ball and club.
I found playing with him, for the first while, to be a true a test of my short patience. He could get in your head.
There were times I felt like taking a good whack at his shins with my driver. Others have offered similar thoughts.
Yet over time, he helped transform my golf game. Through taking time and showing a genuine interest, he made me a better golfer.
More importantly, just through being Ronnie, he was able to also dramatically alter my initially harsh opinion of a truly unique man who could for many years shoot in the 60s and low 70s with such impressively consistent ease.
In his case, though, peeling back a layer or two off the old golf ball revealed a soft, mushy inside.
Brian MacPherson is one of many good friends mourning the passing early this morning of Ron Boyles at age 68 following a short battle with cancer.
MacPherson saw in Boyles a man who was quiet in his good heartedness. He did not flaunt his warm nature.
Boyles, though, went out of his way to provide every bit of comfort and companionship to friends in their times of ill health. He made a determined point of visiting a close elderly friend at a nursing home in spite of his own greatly diminished condition.
“I saw a lot of the good side of him,’’ says MacPherson.
“I lost a good friend.’’
Carol Boyles says her late husband was ready to shut down after enduring such diminished health. His right kidney was removed in early July. Renal cancer had spread to his lungs.
He had lost a great deal of weight. He was weak. He was not the fiery Ronnie of old.
Boyles shunned treatment, bracing for the inevitable, notes Carol.
“He went very peacefully,’’ she says.
“His body was through enough.’’
Boyles leaves behind three children - sons John and Wil, and daughter Wendy - and seven grandchildren that he absolutely doted over.
He also leaves behind quite a legacy.
For close to 40 years, he ran Boyles Optical, which he passed on to his daughter a few years ago making it a fourth generation business.
Carol says her late husband trained almost every optician on P.E.I.
“Oh he was fantastic at his job,’’ she says.
“He was the best he was when he was doing his work.’’
He was pretty darn dazzling on the golf course, as well.
For many years he was at or near the top of the senior golf circuit in P.E.I. He competed in the Canadian Senior Championship from 2003 to 2007 finishing tied for 28th in 2004.
He also competed several years in the Canadian Men’s Amateur Championship.
“He could hit a golf ball,’’ says MacPherson.
“I saw some great rounds of golf with him and some great shots.’’
Funeral arrangements will be announced later.