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Al Hobart In Memoriam

Posted on 4/27/2023 by David M. Dion

Today I write to share in the loss of Al Hobart. Al was a fixture in the Mad River Valley community, and a legend in the ski racing world.

I first met Al about 20 years ago. It wasn’t at Sugarbush Resort or Mad River Glen, or even at Green Mountain Valley School. It was at the Sugarbush Golf Course. The event was a fundraiser for GMVS and my real estate company was a sponsor.  There were perhaps 100 participants and we packed the course with golfers. They were mostly parents of GMVS students, but there were a few local businesses as well.

When I signed up for the event I had no idea who I would be playing with. But it didn’t matter because there might be a bit of networking involved, and anyway it was really all about the event. I was hoping to meet some new local golfers in the Mad River Valley.  Much to my great surprise Al was in my foursome.

I thought it was a bit unusual since Al was, you know, “the man!”. He was the founder of GMVS and one of its former Headmasters. And in the skiing world he was legendary for the world class and Olympic skiers his school produced. Just about everyone at the event knew him, or at least knew who he was. 

I wondered, did he ask for me to be in his foursome? I had no idea. Was it his way of showing appreciation for a new sponsor? Perhaps. But anyway, it didn’t really matter because it was a beautiful sunny day, and I knew I was in for a great day of golf!

Fast forward about 15 years. When I showed up to play Al was in my group once again. In fact, Al was in my foursome every year I played in the event. Such a tremendous honor! But why me? I didn’t go to GMVS. I didn’t send any kids to GMVS. And I hadn’t sold Al and his wife Jane their home. I was pretty much just a local sponsor, at least as far as I was concerned.

Well after 15 years of playing golf together in the event we got to know each other fairly well. And we always had a great time out on the course. Al was very competitive, as you might expect. But he was also a ton of fun to be around.

I remember one day we were standing on one of the tee boxes. And we likely had a beer in our hand, or at least in the golf cart. It was a best ball tournament which meant everyone hits their tee shot, and then we all move our golf balls to the best shot of the four. Play continues this way until the ball goes in the hole. This serves to speed up play, and it’s really great fun because everyone in the group is certain to get the best shot sooner or later.

Al was of course our team captain. And if there was one thing we could all rely on about Al it was his tee shots which would ALWAYS landed in the middle of the fairway. I mean like every time! So it made sense to let Al go first. He wasn’t known for length, but it was a guarantee the ball would always be in play. And that opened the door for the rest of us to “grip it and rip it”!  Sometimes we’d get a tee shot that was WAY out there. But more times than not our tee shots would end up in the woods. No matter because Al was in play for our second shot.

It happened with such regularity that after a few years we began to call Al “Ole Steady”. After all he did have a few years on the rest of us, and it was always a guarantee he’d be in play. Owing to his great sense of humor he seemed ok with this moniker, at least on the golf course.

Once I turned to Ole Steady after he hit his maybe millionth tee shot right up the middle. “Great shot Ole Steady, just like always!  Then I said, “Hey Al we’ve been playing together in this tournament for something like 15 years now and there’s something I’ve always wanted to ask you. Why me?”

He knew exactly what I was asking. He was easily the most well-known player out there and could have been in any foursome he wanted. And I was basically a middle of the pack bogey golfer, and otherwise just a local real estate guy.

Well, Ole Steady stood there leaning on his driver and he was a bit pensive, like he was searching for the actual reason. Then he simply said, “Because you’re fun to play with!” Best compliment I’ve ever received in my life!

Huge thanks to you Ole Steady for being such a great inspiration to so many in the ski world. And for being so much fun to play a game of golf with! RIP Al.


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