An Unlikely Odyssey

Vic Stanfield spent years playing hockey in Germany. But for the last quarter-century he’s been a golf pro in New Hampshire

By Wayne Mills

The sign outside the pro shop at Lochmere Golf and Country Club in Tilton, New Hampshire, reads “Golf Pro Vic Stanfield.” If the name Stanfield sounds familiar to New England sports fans, that’s no surprise. Hockey fans probably remember Vic’s brother, Fred, who played six seasons with the Boston Bruins, winning Stanley Cups in 1970 and 1972. But Vic also had quite a hockey career.

One of seven hockey-playing brothers from Mississauga, Ontario, outside Toronto, Vic took a different path than his brothers, five of whom played pro hockey. Instead of pursuing the Junior League route like so many young Canadians, he went to college.

After being recruited by coach Jack Kelley during a visit to Boston to see his brother Fred, who was playing with the Bruins at the time, Vic made the decision to attend Boston University in 1971.  “I loved the city, had a brother living there and BU had a great hockey program,” he says. “It was a pretty easy decision.”

Like many hockey players, he also loved golf. Over time Stanfield became a very good golfer, lowering his handicap to 1 and even once winning the club championship at George Wright Golf Course, outside Boston. After his playing career he settled in Franklin, New Hampshire and answered an ad for a bartender at the nearby Mojolaki Golf Club. He was hired by owner and golf course architect George Sargent. In time, it would lead to a life as a head golf professional.

But that was only after a hockey career that began at BU and ended in Europe. Patterning his play after the legendary Bobby Orr, Stanfield was an offensive-minded defenseman who set BU scoring records that still stand today. He owns the mark for most points in a season for a defenseman (70), assists in a season (60) and career assists for a defenseman (130). In the 1974-75 season he had 60 assists and 10 goals in 30 games. He was team captain his senior year, a two-time All-American, a two-time Beanpot Tournament MVP, and he was inducted into the Boston University Hall of Fame in 1987.

Jack Parker, who coached BU for 40 years and amassed 897 wins at the school, took over the head coaching job in Stanfield’s junior year and saw him lead the team in scoring in both his junior and senior years.

“He was an unbelievably talented defenseman,” Parker says. “Vic was very cerebral, could out-think the other guy and had great hands. He was the best defenseman in college hockey in those years.”

Parker also thought Stanfield was a great team captain. “Vic was never uptight. He oozed confidence but wasn’t cocky. The team looked up to him,” he says. “He was the best player and the best guy.”

Stanfield figured he would follow his brothers into pro hockey and signed a contract with the New England Whalers of the World Hockey Association, then a rival league to the long-established National Hockey League. He did not receive a bonus and was earning $375 per week. It was a different time and a different style of hockey back then. In his first game with the Cape Cod Cubs, the Whalers’ farm team, there were eight bench-clearing brawls. Yes, eight.

Coming from college hockey, where fighting is prohibited, Stanfield began rethinking his career choice. When a friend told him there was an opening for a North American on a German pro team, he decided to give it a shot, figuring that playing on the larger Olympic-sized ice would be more suited to his style of game.

 

But he knew nothing about Germany and did not speak the language. “I was a mute the first year,” he says.

But the team provided an apartment and a car, and the schedule was shorter than in the WHA and NHL. He also liked coming back to Boston with $12,000 in his pocket after one season.

During the off-season, he tended bar at night and played golf during the day. He also met his wife, Carol, who was working in a dentist’s office. They married in 1979 and together headed to Germany for the hockey season. Carol returned home to give birth to their first child and settled in with her parents in Franklin. Vic joined Carol after the season and they decided to make it their home, purchasing a red brick house on four acres at the end of a road.

Stanfield played eight seasons in Germany, becoming his team’s all-time leading scorer and the only player in the history of the league to have his number retired.

Each summer he would return to Franklin to be with his wife and daughter. The bartending job morphed into a business with Sargent building and remodeling golf courses. In 1990, Lochmere Golf and Country Club became one of their projects, and when owner and developer Jerry Chaillie learned of Stanfield’s golf prowess, he offered him the head pro job. Nearly 25 years later, Stanfield is still there.

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