Column: Kim Swan’s Tribute to Chesley Trott

May 27, 2024

[Opinion column written by Kim Swan]

I offer this tribute in honour of the life of Chesley Trott. Although my art teacher during my years attending Warwick Secondary School in the early 1970s, it was through golf at Port Royal Golf Course from 1971 that we truly came to know each other. To Maria, Chet, Velda, Teacher May and their families, I offer my deepest condolences.

“Chesley Trott brings art to golf”

I first met Chesley Trott through golf in 1971 at age 13, when the Port Royal golf pro the late Walter King sent me out to #11 hole to confront someone with 50 balls on the 11th tee practicing. With a chuckle Chesley explained to me he didn’t realize the error and apologized. That chance meeting was the start of a 50 year friendship focused around golf, fishing, and chess.

Chesley lives next to Port Royal Clubhouse

Another early encounter was the complaints Chesley launched about the loud noise caused by golf cart sheds opening at 5am. Walter King had us young boys competing to see who could get to Port Royal first and prepare the carts for daily usage. A 13-year-old with keys to the building, a float to open the Pro Shop and responsibility. What was funny was Walter King put me in charge of complaints, so I was dealing with Mr. Trott’s complaint, albeit I was the main culprit, by being the keenest to get to the course first.

Chesley eventually solved the problem himself by renting his apartment to the Caddy Master Loris Trott responsible for golf cart distribution.

Chesley Trott the legend

It takes an extraordinary person to be categorised as an icon or legend and that is what Chesley Trott’s life of excellence unquestionably represented. I’m blessed to have had a front row seat being influenced and mentored by him at a young age.

Chesley and I learned the game of golf together as students of the legendary Herman ‘Tucci’ ‘Pro’ Bascome – albeit a 28 year age gap – the timing of the mature Chesley Trott and I learning golfing together is most prophetic.

Our earliest major golf tournament together was as teammates in multiple Rogers Outerbridge Grand Slam of Golf Tournaments, Bermuda Golf Association events and in Rogers Outerbridge’s Pro Am & Junior Golf Events.

Chesley enjoyed playing and practicing golf. But he prided himself on being an exceptional putter – most good putters are self -positive persons – being a good putter made competing in golf fun and enjoyable for Chesley.

Chesley the emperor

We were a group that golfed together regularly that consisted of Clyde ‘Tango’ Burgess, Lloyd James, Gary ‘Limey’ Crofton, Calix Darrell Jr, Glenda Todd, Ricky Demoura, Blake Marshall, Earl ‘Townsey’ Russell, Dudley Simons, Arthur ‘Tokyo’ Mills, Edward ‘Buzz’ Deshields, Glenn ‘Dingbat’ Simmons, Alora Rabain, Cecilia Bean, Hubert Simmons, Cal ‘Rocky’ Hendrickson Sr., Loris Trott, Eugene Darrell, and others.

I remember when Clyde ‘Tango’ Burgess nicknamed Chesley Trott ‘The Imperial Emperor’ because of his resemblance to Emperor Haile Selassie when he grew his beard in the early 1970s. That nickname stuck around us as we spent a lot of time golfing.

We were competitive playing serious golf daily and many times multiple rounds during summer and Christmas holidays.

1972 Rogers Outerbridge Grand Slam Team, Jerome Taylor, Chesley Trott, Kim Swan & George Wade.

1972 Rogers Outerbridge Grand Slam Team Jerome Taylor, Chesley Trott, Kim Swan & George Wade Bermuda May 2024

Bermuda Open tennis finalist

Before golf, Chesley was an accomplished tennis player who finished runner up in the Bermuda Open Tennis three times, a feat that golf pro Walter King would often needle him about. Chesley would often laugh it off in front of Walter – but it was all part of the banter and gamesmanship at play – Port Royal was a hotbed of golf talent.

Learning to golf at Port Royal alongside Chesley I learned about the similarities between golf and tennis as Chesley grafted his tennis strokes into golf. We even had a few tennis challenges.

We enjoyed following major sporting events like listening to the Wimbledon finals when Arthur Ashe won and witnessing Jimmy Connors, Ille Nastase and Frew McMillan in person at Southampton Princess.

Chesley’s finest golf achievement came in the mid 1970s when school principal K H Randolph Horton gave Chesley permission to enter the Bermuda Amateur Championship and Chesley Trott shocked the field and made it through to the quarterfinals. This raised the eyebrows of Ministry of Education officials. I clearly benefited by observing how Chesley applied his tennis to golf. As a PGA European Tour player representing Castle Harbour Resort, I was able to learn from Al ‘Pop’ Smith, Steve Alger, and practicing with world #1 Ivan Llendl.

The patience of Chesley the sculptor

In addition to golf and tennis, Chesley loved to play chess, fishing and gardening, which are all hobbies that teach patience.

I recall him contemplating a move on the chessboard while applying fine sand paper to a smaller piece and the love and care it put into cultivating orchids.

We were in peril on the raging sea one afternoon. I was frantic trying to get the motor to start and a stoic Chesley convinced me to remain calm – thankfully we were rescued by Cousin Victor ‘Big Red’ Bascome, who was fishing waters much further east than most fishermen out of the west.

Another great memory I witnessed was when we were golfing and Chesley spotted a log suitable for a work he had in his mind; his passion switched gears in an instant and the work he envisioned could now come to life.

I’m eternally grateful for the quality time we spent together during my formative years. Chesley’s impact on my life as an emerging golfer was profound – I can hear him telling me to slow down on my putting routine, be more deliberate.

Chesley was known worldwide for his outstanding work as an artist but I maintain that because he was a stickler for detail he needed patience.

Although he spent more than a half a century in Southampton, he was proud to share that he was from Mullet Bay, St. George’s. One of our last conversations was about his childhood in St. George’s and how he could fish where Mullet Bay playground is today.

May he rest in peace.

- Kim Swan

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