Simcoe man competes in Western Canadian snooker championships
Simcoe's David Puddy recently competed at the Western Canadian Snooker Championships in Calgary. The local real-estate agent serves as the director of player development for Snooker Canada. JACOB ROBINSON/Simcoe Reformer
If the game of snooker returns to prominence in Canada, Simcoe's David Puddy will have played a major role.
Puddy, a longtime enthusiast and recently-certified coach, wants to get the game back at the level it was in the 1980s.
“The buzz that was in snooker back in the 1980s in Canada was wonderful,” he recalled. “We had people who were competitors, we had people who were good ambassadors for the game.
“The 1980s rolled into the 1990s and there was no second generation (of players).”
There was also little sponsorship money. Most of the big tournaments back then were supported by cigarette companies and once their names weren't attached, others weren't willing to pick up the slack. The lack of popularity meant most neighbourhood pool halls had very little to offer those seeking snooker.
With people like Puddy on board though, the game is coming off the mat.
Puddy, who is director of player development for Snooker Canada, recently returned from England where he became a World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association certified coach. As it stands, he's the only North American to carry such a distinction.
“It's a $3,000 investment, but now I can take on students and charge out at a reasonable rate,” he said.
Bringing his experience and knowledge of the game - and how to teach it – may well light a fire under players on this side of the pond.
“It's not going to be the big tournaments that (get people interested) because there's only a certain number of people that watch that right now,” Puddy said from Simcoe Billiards. “But if we can get two tables in here and get them used a lot then all of a sudden there's 20 more people that are playing.”
Teaching the basic points of the game – a player's grip, bridge hand, and stance – is fairly straightforward but the real key to coaching, said Puddy, is developing a player's mindset for key situations.
“When you get into a match and all of a sudden you need to make the last four balls not only to win that frame but to win the match, where does your mind go?” he asked. “Are you afraid of missing because if you're afraid of missing you'll miss.”
Puddy knows of what he speaks too. He's been in the Canadian and Canadian Masters tournament and even competed at the Richler Cup, the largest gathering in North America. In March he was a quarter-finalist at the Western Canadian Championships in Calgary.
“The way I put it is I'm a competitor, I'm not necessarily a contender,” said Puddy, a Re/Max Erie Shores real estate agent. “We're looking at getting a home where I can put my own table in, that will probably move me up to a contender because I'll get an hour or two (of practice) per day... it's the solo practice that makes a big difference.”
Having played the game since he was 13, Puddy never strayed too far from a snooker table. It became difficult to find willing opponents once he moved to Simcoe in 1990 though. Not long after arriving in town he made his way to Simcoe Billiards.
“I remember walking in my first day here. I ran, I dunno, 89 points my first game and from that point on no one would play me,” he joked.
“This has always been a really nice place for me to come and play my game.”
If Puddy has it his way they'll be many more picking up a cue in the coming months and years.
“Fifteen years from now I would love to see a handful of Canadians playing (professionally),” he said. “I'd still love to be a competitor if not a contender (and) have had a couple hundred people I've helped improve their game.”
“The future is coming in terms of rebuilding.”