Teeing Off With... Flames owner Alvin Libin

ERIC FRANCIS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:02 AM ET

Shortly after picking up a trio of skins with a seven-ft. putt, Alvin Libin points out he's played many a round at Willow Park golf club.

"I was here on opening day in 1965," said the Flames co-owner of a date he remembers well.

"I came into the pro shop and asked E.V. Keith and Bill Borger (course owners) how I could join. They told me it was $100 so I pulled $100 out of my pocket.

"They told me they would submit my application to the board."

When asked who was on the board, the duo laughed.

"It was just E.V. and Bill," laughed Libin.

"They walked across the pro shop and had their board meeting."

Minutes later they walked back.

"They told me I could go play whenever I wanted -- I was in," smiled Libin.

"So many good memories here -- it was such a fun place to play golf. They had planted so many little trees all over so you can imagine the difference today."

Libin's relationship with the tight tree-lined track ended a decade later when it was sold to 10 members, a process that infuriated Libin and prompted him to join Canyon Meadows.

A 19-handicap who doesn't hit the ball long but plays with impressive consistency, the quiet philanthropist finds himself out on the links three or four times a week, often with son Bobby.

When wintering in Rancho Mirage, Ca., he's out almost every day.

"It's not a passion of mine, but it's a great game," said Libin, who now calls the Calgary Country Club his home course as he lives off one of the fairways.

"You make a lot of friends on the golf course. I love it out here."

Never one to pass up a chance to press his opponents as part of a money game, the native Calgarian is unflappable on the course, using a fade on most shots to land on the fairway with regularity.

As modest as he is even-keeled, you'd never know Libin was an Officer of the Order of Canada and one of the country's richest men -- a man who has donated countless millions to local charities including the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta, which he founded.

On this day, his donation is being made to Flames president Ken King after shooting a 92 from the back tees that included having his ball come to rest in a tree.

"I only play golf for fun -- that's why I play so bad," shrugged Libin, one of eight Flames owners who maintain a low profile while attending most home games and all playoff tilts.

"I should play for a living -- then I'd be better."

You get the feeling he's right, as the CEO of Balmon Investments Ltd. has done well to build his fortune through various business interests including real estate, oil and gas and financial services.

"Hopefully one of these days, I'll learn how to play," said Libin, who also maintains a membership at the Glencoe Golf and Country Club, which he bought when the course opened back in 1984.

"If not, I'll still enjoy it."

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ALVIN LIBIN

HANDICAP: 19

BEST SCORE: 79

Years played: Since age 25

In his bag: Callaway X-20 irons

Average rounds a year: More than 100

Golf highlight: Hole in one, 1998

When the beer cart pulls up, I'll have a: Diet Coke


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