Even Stephen

ERIC FRANCIS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:49 AM ET

In the midst of a light lunch at his latest restaurant venture, Stephen Ames is politely interrupted.

"Great job this weekend," said a beaming patron, acknowledging a fourth place finish at Colonial.

"Good luck next week," said another as he continued by.

A partner in four Calgary restaurants, a bakery and two more fine dining establishments to be opened in the very near future, Ames is becoming more and more visible in his adopted hometown. When not on the PGA Tour, where the 44-year-old Trinidad & Tobago native is currently ranked 21st on the money list, the husband and father of two is busy juggling a hectic family schedule with an ever-growing list of charitable and business ventures.

Add to that having to oversee the construction of his 7,900 sq. ft. home being built in the Aspen Estates area and it's a wonder Ames has been able to post three top-five finishes so far this year to earn $1.4 million. Oh, and did we mention he's undergoing swing changes?

"I think I'm at that peak in my career where I'm capable of being able to switch it on and switch it off and enjoy life," said Ames of the constant transition from golf to everything else on his plate.

"I love living in Calgary. Obviously, a lot of things are going on, and I've made it that way because I enjoy the business part of it, too. I have a nice blend where I can take a couple weeks off, take a few days to get back into it and then be able to switch it back on when I get back into the competition and be able to play at the level I'm capable of playing."

Starting seven years ago with Vintage Chophouse downtown, Ames began a relationship with Vintage Group overseer Lance Hurtubise that has blossomed into partnerships in all three of the city's Redwater Rustic Grilles -- a concept that just opened it's third of four locations and may soon spread across western Canada.

"I enjoy being recognized when I go to these fine establishments. It's fun," Ames said in the bustling Redwater Bow Valley Square, soon to be flanked by Rise bakery.

"The people in Calgary are warm and friendly but, at the same time, they give you your space. I think with any restaurant, you want to be associated with something new and something good in town, and I think all these restaurants have that theme to them. They're known for their quality of food and service."

Ames stays far away from the day-to-day operations of the restaurants. He simply lends his name (and some of his considerable money) to the group, which will add Rush to its roster next month.

Ames is also delving into the world of golf course design, partnering up with controversial commentator Johnny Miller and the Windmill Group to build the Legacy Club at Harmony capable of hosting the Canadian Open. The Springbank course is slated to open in 2011.

"The only difference between a U.S. Open setup and a normal setup is the fairways are narrower, the rough is up, the greens are firmer and there's rough around the greens -- otherwise, it should be playable for every single person," said Ames, pointing out championship tees will be added to stretch the course to 8,000 yards to counter the elevation that renders every other Calgary course too short to host the Tour.

"There are times guys have such big egos that they build courses only a ten handicap can play. Guess what? No one is playing. And they wonder why their golf course isn't doing well."

With career earnings of $14.8 million, not including lucrative endorsement deals like the one he has with Nike, the three-time Tour winner has every right to enjoy the fruits of his labour. Part of that means building a dream home he and wife Jodi helped design to include a five car garage, weight room and a basement with more than 3,000 sq. ft. to house a massive wine cellar, theatre room, games room and a state-of-the-art golf simulator that will allow him to practice at home all winter.

"It's an exciting time," admits the fun-loving and outspoken Ames, who only a few years back had to deal with his wife's lung cancer scare.

"Jodi is healthy and doing great, so are the boys (Justin is 11, Ryan, 9) As I've always said, family is most important. Life is good."

One of his biggest passions is his foundation aimed at promoting junior golf in Canada and T & T. This year, the Stephen Ames Cup will be contested in Port of Spain, where he'll send 12 Canadian juniors aged 13-21 for a showdown with Trinidad's best young golfers.

"They don't pay for anything and I put on a show," said Ames, understandably proud of the five-day celebration.

"We play soccer on the beach where we enjoy local food, there's a pro-am, closing ceremonies, I rent a 60-foot boat and take them down the island to a beach house ... it's a great experience for them."

While still maintaining a relatively busy tour schedule, which sees him joined weekly by his swing coach, psychologist, caddy and trainer (his family will join him once school is out), Ames seems to have found a healthy balance between being a father, husband, golfer, entrepreneur and philanthropist.

"I'm taking a month off after the U.S Open," said Ames, who shrugged last week when asked if he'd find time to hit balls.

"That month, we'll be up in Invermere a lot. I will play because I know Ryan will want to play. We'll go in the morning. He'll drive and I'll hit. I've got a caddy."

And pretty much everything else he could ever dream of.

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CITY BUSINESS VENTURES

- Vintage Chophouse - part owner

- Redwater Rustic Grille (3) - part owner

- Rise bakery (soon to open) - part owner

- Rush (soon to open) - part owner

- Legacy Club at Harmony golf course - co-designer


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