Dr. George Laing was a remarkable athlete who excelled at several sports during the early days of Canadian athletics. Although he is perhaps best known as a championship golfer, Laing garnered national acclaim as a gridiron star at McGill University.
Laing was born in Windsor, Ontario on October 20, 1892. Always a versatile, natural athlete, he shone at various points in his development in football, cricket, hockey, tennis, badminton, and eventually golf.
Laing played football at McGill under Frank Shaughnessy, the first professional coach in Canadian university football and a famous name in Canadian sports in his own right. Laing was a team captain and played outside wing, centre, and halfback in Montreal. In a famous performance against Queens, Laing is remembered to have run back a kick for 115 yards down the centre of the field, faking laterals all the way to avoid defenders. Later in life, Shaughnessy called Laing “one of the finest athletes I ever had anything to do with” and “the fastest, easiest runner I had ever seen.”
Laing also played tennis during his university days. He won intercollegiate singles and doubles titles and the Quebec singles title in 1914, plus the Detroit singles title in ’15. He transitioned to badminton later in life, winning the Michigan Open doubles title in 1930.
After leaving McGill, Laing was an accredited surgeon by trade. He saw service in France during World War I with the Royal Army Medical Corps. He was exposed to golf while convalescing in England following the War in 1918.
Laing developed his golf game over the remainder of his life, eventually becoming one of Canada’s most impressive players. Over his career on the links, he won seven Essex Golf & Country Club titles.
Laing is perhaps best known in the golf community as a Seniors champion. He won the Canadian Seniors Golf Association Championship four consecutive times, from 1949 to ’52. In 1959, he tied with five others for the same honour. He was also victorious in Devonshire and Triangular Cup matches in international Seniors play.
Dr. George Laing passed away on October 3, 1963.
Today, he is remembered as one of the great Canadian athletes of his generation. “Few can be measured against his qualifications,” wrote Jack Dulmage, longtime Sports Editor for the Windsor Star.