A homegrown boy who has long considered Fort Frances and the Rainy River District his home is bringing his one-of-a-kind show to Heron Landing Golf Course in tribute to his all-star father.
Sandy Kurceba is a former hockey player, PGA Tour golfer and trick shot artist who will be bringing a free golf clinic and trick shot show to the local course for 7:00 p.m. on Friday, August 12. Timed to run ahead of this year’s Fort Frances Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony, the combined clinic and trick shot show is in honour of his dad, 1952 Allan Cup-winning Canadians team member Alex Kurceba, as well as the other members of that legendary hockey team.
“The main reason I’m doing this is in honour of my father, who is 94,” Kurceba said.
“Dad came to Fort Frances in 1948 to try out for the Fort Frances Canadians, made the team, and then the next 10 years of his life is chasing the Allan Cup. They did lose it and they did win it in ’52. The day I was born and got out of the hospital, I was on a train to Fort Frances, so being 72 this is one of my homes of my life, one of my favourite places to come. I always wanted to do the show here, so this year it’s in honour of dad and 70 years since the Canadians won the Allan Cup.”
Kurceba said his show is open to all, golfers and non-golfers alike, and he has structured the show in such a way that everyone can get something out of it, like some pointers from his career as a PGA golfer.
“I think with the golfers of two golf courses and even the Falls, I thought we should do this as a golf clinic trick shot show,” he explained.
“Bring your questions and we’ll have a half hour of hitting golf balls and grip and stance and so on, and then I go into the trick shot show. That’s the long one. There’s audience participation. I get people out there to hit off the three-foot tee, I pull the kids out to do something, the ladies, so it’s very entertaining for the hour of the show. For the golfer that will see my resume as PGA-golf-pro-tour-player-entertainer, bring your question and I’ll answer it.”
Hitting a ball off a three foot tee is only one of the tricks Kurceba has up his sleeve. A quick glance at the Bald Falcon’s YouTube page (being Kurceba’s performing title) shows a unique slate of trick shots including trick clubs, trick tees, trick balls and everything in between. Add in that Kurceba does a good handful of tricks while on hockey skates, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for an entertaining evening.
Kurceba said he got into the trick shot golf business simply because golf is what he grew up with, just as much as he did hockey. As a teen, he would sneak out onto a Jewish golf club course late on Sunday when there were fewer players and fire off all kinds of different shots.
“We’d have long drive contests, sit on a chair, off your knees, break off a twig in the bush and tee up at two feet high,” Kurceba explained.
“So we’re doing things when we were kids. Then I went to Rossmere, and I’m closer to home, and on Saturday nights we’d have the weddings. I was working in the pro shop and there were six of us, so we’d have a long drive contest on number one and entertain the wedding and do the same stuff.”
From there, Kurceba’s path brought him through amateur and professional golf and hockey, but it was when he found himself on the pro golf tour in Australia and New Zealand that his trick shot career really took off, starting small with clinics and demos for fellow golfers and corporate reps before eventually landing bigger and bigger gigs for his trick shot shows.
Still, as far afield as Kurceba has found himself, he’s quick to stress that thanks to his dad and his own upbringing, Fort Frances and the Rainy River District have always been one of a kind.
“This town, to me, has always been home,” he explained.
“It’s one of my homes. I’ve lived in some great places, and someone will say, ‘where would you retire to?’ and I say ‘the shores of Rainy Lake / Rainy River.’ There’s nothing more exciting than to see that sunrise on the lake here, even in the winter.”
While next week’s show is free to attend, he notes that he’s hopeful it can spin into something more substantive in the years to come, potentially finding an opportunity for fundraisers shows or golf tournaments to benefit the Fort Frances Sports Hall of Fame on a regular basis.
Kurceba said he’s excited to put his show on for everyone in Fort Frances and the area, especially his dad. While discussing his history and his upcoming trick shot show, the Bald Falcon let loose awry smile and noted that he wanted to keep his dad mostly in the dark about what he’s been up to lately.
“He doesn’t know I’m here in Fort Frances,” he said.
“I had to lie to him last night and say, ‘I’m going to Hecla to go play golf for a couple of days,’ to come down and set this up. Whether it’s 20 people or 300 people, it will be fun to say I did it in honour of all the sports people in the town.”