Famed golf teacher Bob Toski, 91, suffers heart attack

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  • Former baseball outfielder Ken (Hawk) Harrelson watches his golf ball soar as he follows through with a practice shot from the tee while being coached by his teacher Bob Toski in this undated photo. AP

  • Robert Keith Toski, 6 months old, starts to develop a taste for golf at a young age in 1955. He is pictured with his dad, pro golfer Bob Toski and mom Lynn, in Miami Beach. AP

  • Bob Toski drives from the 12th tee in the World Series golf tournament in Washington D.C., 1954. AP

  • Bob Toski, whose 65 at the 1954 World golf tournament put him in the lead for the $100,000 prize, poses with his hot putter at Tam O’Shanter in Chicago, Ill. AP

  • Bob Toski hits from a slope on the 17th fairway at the Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J., during the opening round of the 1954 National Open golf championship. AP

  • Bob Toski, center, of Northampton, instructs former world champion figure skater Tenley Albright of Newton, how to hold golf club at the 1954 Celebrity Golf Tournament at the Charles River Country Club in Newton. Looking on at left is Bob Brannum of the Boston Celtics. AP

  • Bob Toski, left, tosses his golf ball to Mort Neblett of Wilmington, N.J., after shooting a 6-under-par 65 in the 1954 Azalea golf tournament in Wilmington, N.C. Arnold Palmer, a Wake Forest college amateur, looks on at center. AP FILE PHOTO

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Famed professional golf teacher Bob Toski, 91, is fighting for his life.

The Haydenville native suffered a massive heart attack Saturday and is in intensive care at Boca Raton Regional Hospital in Florida.

“I’m very upset. I can’t believe it,” brother Tom Toski, 92, said from his Easthampton home. “I pray every day.”

Author Brian Biggane, who wrote “The Elegant Mouse: The Bob Toski Story,” has been in contact with Toski’s family. According to Biggane, Toski, who lives in Boca Raton, wasn’t feel well on Saturday and pushed his emergency panic button. Toski was taken to the hospital where he underwent surgery.

“They put two (stents) in him and at that point his heart stopped at the end of that procedure,” Biggane said. “They hit him with a defibrillator five times and got it going again. They wheeled him into his hospital room and it stopped again. They hit him one more time and it started again.”

Biggane said when he last spoke with the family on Monday, Toski was unconscious. He said close friends of Toski told him he was breathing on his own Tuesday morning.

“Things seem to be going in the right direction,” Biggane said. “The family is holding a vigil.”

Biggane added, “Doctors told the family his heart was very weak.”

Bob and Tom Toski were recently honored in Washington on Memorial Day for their service in World War II and the Korean War. Prior to the ceremony hosted by the Friends of the National World War II Memorial and the National Park Service, the brothers participated along with other veterans in a “Parade of Heroes” and laid wreaths at the Freedom Wall.

“We got a lot of great pictures over Memorial Day weekend and we both looked great,” Tom Toski said.

He said the day started at 8 a.m. and didn’t end until 6 p.m.

“I got a nice card from (Bob),” Tom Toski said. “He must have mailed it a couple days before he had the heart attack. He said, ‘imagine two Polish guys from Haydenville being honored the way we are.’ He was so proud.

“I was, too. Being down in Washington and doing what we did — it was great but it was very hard on us.”

Bob Toski became a professional golfer following his military service. He learned to play at Northampton Country Club and joined the PGA Tour in 1949 after leaving the Army.

He won five tournaments, including the 1954 World Championship of Golf, which from 1946 to 1957 was one of the biggest tournaments on tour.

Toski retired from the PGA Tour in 1957, three years after leading the tour in money. He turned to teaching and he has been one of the best since.

Among his pupils were Tom Kite, Bruce Crampton and Judy Rankin. He coached Birdie Kim to the U.S. Women’s Open championship in 2005. In 2006, he helped Ken Duke turn his game around. Duke was struggling on the then Nationwide Tour, but in 2006, Duke played in 28 PGA tournaments and earned close to $2 million.

Toski was inducted into the World Golf Teachers Hall of Fame in 1999.

Mike Moran can be reached at mmoran@gazettenet.com.