Passing of a local legend: Ross Schultz

A true local legend, Ross Alexander Schultz, has died in his 99th year.

A successful inventor and businessman in his earlier years, Ross became famous in golfing circles for his humour, his longevity and the rare achievement of breaking his age on the golf course, which he did regularly.

Ross was born on December 17, 1919, and died May 9, 2018.

The Herald has received three separate tributes to Ross:

From eldest son Terry:

Ross was the youngest of the four sons of Francis Herbert and Louise Charlotte Schultz (nee Laubman) of Summertown. As a child he grew up on the family market garden attending Uraidla Primary School and later playing football and cricket for Uraidla.

Not wanting to be a financial burden on his parents he declined university and began an apprenticeship in fitting and turning, which he completed at Noblett and Forrest on the Port Road, Woodville.

At 21 years of age he started his own business in an old munitions factory at Finsbury, but soon built a workshop at 767 Port Road, Woodville, almost opposite his old employer.

He attended night school to learn draftsmanship and metallurgy, and was soon designing and building a wide range of machinery. A perusal of his photo albums reveals machines such as cleating machines centerless polishers, drum cleaners, roll formers, hinge joiners, tube cutters, toothpaste tube fillers and many others.

Along the way he patented a number of his inventions some of which were made in large numbers by agents. He designed and built a cylinder head grinder for the motor trade and ultimately made over 700 of these, as well as a car dynamometer in association with car tuning expert Dave Bennett.

He then turned to special machinery for the optical industry (his brother Don was a partner in Laubman and Pank, and an optical physicist of some note) designing and building lens grinders, edgers, polishers and injection molding equipment for making plastic lenses.

Whilst this was happening, and at the age of 40 he was bitten by the golf bug, and within three years, passing through a variety of swing styles and teachers (the best being Brian Crafter) he was on a handicap of one.

His aim, which was fulfilled, was to play in the big events and in 1971 toured New Zealand with Graham Marsh. He won many club championships including Flagstaff Hill and Naracoorte, as well as the Petaluma Golf and Country Club in California, where he was installing lens injection machines.

He has touched many lives throughout South Australia and spent his last years in Moreton Bay House at Naracoorte Hospital where he was well cared for.

In his 99th year he finally had seen enough and leaves children Terry, Anne and Peter, 9 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.

From younger son Peter:

Ross (Alexander) Schultz died in his sleep early Wednesday morning. Ross was 98 ½ years old. As a family we expected him to live to 100 and are surprised by his early demise – we are sure he tossed the towel in early to ensure that as a republican he didn’t get that letter from the Queen.

Ross was a brilliant engineer, sportsman and businessman. He didn’t care for the trappings of success and in his eccentric manner he behaved contrary to the symbols of success.

Ross was loved and adored by most who crossed his path. He was a humorous jokester and leg puller who through his good nature made many friends. One joke at his expense he perhaps didn’t like so much was when the fruit and veg store owner about 15 years ago suggested he was so old he shouldn’t buy green bananas. I guess he showed them by living another 15 years.

He was a determined, focussed and single minded thinker with exceptional lateral thinking abilities which enabled him to design and build hundreds of special purpose machines that ranged from automatic pie making machines, roll forming machines, and lens making machines.

His engineering success was probably most remembered for the role his lens making machines had in the establishment, growth and success of SOLA International. SOLA started as a subsidiary of Laubman and Pank which was originally founded by his uncle, Carl Laubman.

He didn’t just apply his singled mindedness to engineering but also to sport and in particular golf and the honour boards at both Naracoorte Golf Club and Flagstaff Hill Golf Clubs bear testament to that. He took the game up at 40, got down to a handicap of +1 and represented the state.

Ross leaves behind three children Terry, Anne and Peter and their partners, Di, Milton and Wendy and 9 grandchildren and a heap of great grandchildren.

While Ross loved his family dearly his single-minded attributes and intellect proved him to be a challenging member of the household.

That said we all loved him dearly and through his example we were set for success in life.

From Naracoorte Golf Club member Scott Lawrie:

Last Wednesday, we lost one of our true legends, with the passing of Ross Schultz.

There will be so many stories told about Ross, with the vast majority told being very funny! He was that kind of man.

15 years ago, I wrote a piece about Ross in the SA Golfer magazine which highlights his golfing exploits! It read as follows:

“The Naracoorte Golf Club has been hiding one of golf’s living treasures in Ross Schultz. Ross started playing golf at the tender age of 41 years after an illustrious career in cricket. His wife and brother talked him into it and Ross only wished they had done it sooner. 

His lowest handicap was when he was playing at Flagstaff Hill when he played off scratch for a while. Currently, at age 83, he plays off 10.

He was 71 when he first played under his age at Bordertown & he still has the card hanging in his kitchen. He now does it on a regular basis. 

Ross has won 9 Club Championships. 4 were at Flagstaff Hill, 1 at Thaxted Park, 1 at Petaluma in California USA & he now has 3 at Naracoorte. 

He won 19 straight foursomes championships at Flagstaff Hill with Gordon Dick. The run came to an end when he went to the USA for a year, much to Dicky’s dismay.

Ross won the Australian over 65 Championship at the Victoria G.C. when aged 68. He also won the Australian over 70 Championship at Grange West when aged 73.

He’s had four holes in one in competitions and at least eight others while practising.

Ross claims his highlight in golf came when he was 70. He won Naracoorte’s Club Championship and went onto contest the State title. He made it through to the final where he lost to a 19 year old lad by the name of Phil Chapman. That got him into the State team to play Victoria. There he struck another 19 year old lad, this time by the name of Stuart Appleby. Ross 3 putted the 17th to go down by 2 shots, but that would have been only to encourage the boy.

Now days Ross is retired and spends all his time playing golf. He lives in the swamps of Wrattonbully and is known around the traps as “The Enigma”. Many a club will be hosting a tournament, when a little blue Laser will come pottering around the corner. Ross will play his game, tell some stories and hop back into the Laser and disappear back onto the swamps.

He is a regular at Veterans events and even has the distinction of playing in a Veterans event with his son!

He was embarked on coaching especially with Juniors. His advice is still sought-after and listened to by the men as well.

Ross Schultz is an ornament to the game of golf. He has played the game all over the world and has made friends wherever he has played.

Away from golf, Ross was a man of extreme intelligence. He loved to invent things and had an amazing shed full of ideas. During his “retirement” he invented a machine that aided in the rehabilitation of ankles after surgery. He sold these to many sporting clubs throughout the country.

He was influential in the building of the laser that is used to build glass eyes. He also helped with the repair of the Hubble telescope after it was first launched, but didn’t work. To be able to work with NASA is no mean feat!”

For me, I will always remember Ross the golfing mate. I can still remember playing with Ross and he would tee off and smack it straight down the middle. He would then turn to us and ask, “where did that go”. I would tell him he had cut it into the trees, but he knew where it had gone! We played in a group of 3 one day and Ross was really struggling to walk around the back nine. He was really hunched over and we were very worried about him. He didn’t want to make a fuss and didn’t want to pull out, and we made it to the 16th tee. Ross sat on the seat and couldn’t move. We stayed with him as groups just played through. Turns out he had a broken rib from playing too much golf! He was 82 at the time.

I could only imagine how Ross would love to have nurtured juniors such as Sam, Arabella and Susannah. He would walk up to young Sam, squeeze Sam’s bicep, and say gee you can hit a long ball. Odds are the next one would be a bit bigger swing followed by a drive that would miss the fairway, then that smile from Ross. But he would be there for them every time.

So many of the stories about Ross can’t be mentioned here! He was a very unique character. But if you want to know a man that got the most out of his life, Ross Schultz was that man.