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Hall of Fame

More: Ninety Years of Golf (by Mickey Boyle)
More: Women's Golf in Saskatchewan 1899-2000
More: Hall of Fame

An Early History of Golf in Canada

It should come as no surprise to find that the game of golf in Canada owes its establishment to the massive immigration of Scots during the 19th Century.

The game had been played in Scotland for well over 300 years by the time the word "golf" is first found in print in Canada. That was 1826, when the Montreal Herald ran a notice "To Scotsmen A few true sons of Scotia, eager to perpetuate the remembrance of her Customs have fixed upon the 25th December and the 1st January, for going to the Priests' Farm, to PLAY AT GOLF. Such of their Countrymen as choose to join them, will meet them before TEN O'Clock, A.M., at D. M'Arthur's INN, Hay-Market. Steps have been taken to have CLUBS provided."

Unfortunately, there is no record following up this invitation, so we may never know how many, if any, took up the offer. Likewise, there are many theories that golf was played earlier than 1826, but no proof has been found as unequivocal as this invitation.

The next time golf made it into print was 1854, when a young man from a merchant vessel came ashore at Quebec to practice his swing on the Plains of Abraham. That it was reported certainly indicates this was still unusual behaviour. While there may have been avid closet golfers throughout the young dominion, it undoubtedly was an uncommon occurrence.

Various other reports throughout Canada during the next two decades substantiate that the game itself had taken some hold. Still, there was no formal organization of the golf until Alexander Dennistoun relocated from Peterborough, Ont. to Montreal.

It was in Montreal, in the fall of 1873, that this relocated Scot gathered seven of his fellow expatriates and local businessmen to establish the first club in North America, the (Royal) Montreal Golf Club. This was quickly followed by the creation of a club in Quebec City, which led to the first inter club matches to be played on this continent.

The Scottish invasion was just beginning in the 1870s and 1880s. Scottish bankers, doctors and engineers, among others, poured into the newly formed country. Throughout these decades several more clubs were formed, some to survive to this day, others to struggle and fail before golf was to flourish in the next decade.

With the formation of several clubs in Ontario (at Toronto, Brantford, Kingston and Niagara) the first inter provincial matches were be held beginning in 1882 between Quebec and Ontario. In 1888, the first club was founded in the United States, at St. Andrews in Yonkers, New York.

But the 1890s saw a tremendous boom in the game. Clubs began to appear in every province and territory. This was due mainly to the influx in immigration during this period, however, there were several other contributing factors. The change from a rural society to urban centres began to take place in the 1890s. Urban living increased the desire for leisure activities that would take one outdoors. A growing middle class of clerks and office workers, along with a shortened work week, also made their appearance in these years. Transportation improved, the hardship of long distance travel was eased by the completion of the Canadian National Railways, while local commutes were improved through the introduction of many urban trains and trolley systems.

Strangely enough, though, it may have been the invention of the bicycle that played the biggest role in establishing golf. It was during this decade that the restrictions of the Victorian era woman began to fall away. The bicycle provided middle-class women with an easy form of unaccompanied transport. A tremendous number of women entered the sport in the 1890s. There was a movement toward health and exercise, which no doubt aided and abetted the efforts of women taking up the game. While we can certainly still find references of men and women alike who abhorred this change, there are at least an equal number who supported it.

The first women's clubs were established in 1891 at Royal Montreal, Quebec and Toronto. They were joined in droves. It is likely that the number of women members did two things for the game: establish large enough memberships to sustain the clubs, especially 20 years hence when WWI would devastate the male membership; and also turn golf clubs into family-oriented social gathering places.

Regardless of the reasons for the boom, the 1890s saw tremendous growth in the game around the globe. The next logical step was the founding of associations to organize championships. In response to the formation of an American golf association, A.J. Simpson of (Royal) Ottawa Golf Club invited Canadian clubs to gather at Ottawa-to play a national championship and discuss the formation of a Canadian golf association.

The Governor General of Canada, Lord Aberdeen, attended that first meeting, June 6, 1895, where he presented a trophy for play at the national championship. T.M. Harley won that trophy at the first championship. The Aberdeen Cup is not the trophy played for today, however. Lord Aberdeen attached a proviso to the trophy when he donated it. If anyone should win the championship three years in succession, it would become that player's to keep. Early Canadian golf sensation George S. Lyon took the trophy home in 1907 by doing just that. Earl Grey, then Governor General, presented a new trophy for play in 1908, with no such proviso. It is still played for today.

That meeting in Ottawa created the basis for a golf organization. The first official meeting was held that fall during the interprovincial meet. Ten clubs committed to the Association, to which Queen Victoria gave the Royal designation. The founding clubs were: Royal Montreal, Toronto, Quebec, London, Kingston, Winnipeg, Victoria, Brantford, Hamilton and Niagara.

As the game continued to grow around the country, other events were added to the Royal Canadian Golf Association's mandate, including the Canadian Ladies' Amateur-first played in 1901 followed by the Open Championship in 1904.

For more Canadian golf history, visit the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame at www.cghf.org or at Glen Abbey Golf Club, 1333 Dorval Drive, Oakville, Ontario. Another comprehensive source is James Barclay's Golf in Canada: A History published by McClelland & Stewart, 1992.

Prepared by Curator/Archivist Karen Hewson, Canadian Golf Hall of Fame

Visit the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame in Oakville or by clicking www.cghf.org for an interesting virtual tour.

Hall of Fame

Saskatchewan Hall of Fame golfing greats
Saskatchewan golfers have a long and glorious history in this province. Golfers have won national, international and even world championships, reaching the ultimate level of achievement in their sport. The Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame, established in 1966, has inducted 10 golfers who are recognised. An exhibit, along with additional historical data and photographs, are kept on all honoured athletes, builders and teams. The museum artifacts include Joanne Goulet's putter and even an old golf ball used by Jack "The Golden Bear" Nicklaus. Saskgolfer is indebted to curator Jacqueline Campbell and the volunteer staff for their assistance in assembling these citations that were read at the time (noted in brackets) of the installation of these golfing greats. There has been no golfer inducted since 1991. The Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame and Museum recognises sport excellence, preserves sport history, and educates the public on the contribution of sport to Saskatchewan cultural fabric. During weekdays, you may visit their Regina offices at 2205 Victoria Avenue (306.780.9232) or view their website at www.sshfm.com.

 

Dr. Jack LeddyDr. Jack Leddy (1971)
The golf career of Dr. Jack Leddy ranges from working as a golf caddy as a school boy, to being an active competitor, to the presidency of the Royal Canadian Golf Association (RCGA) and to a membership in the Royal and Ancient Club at St. Andrews, Scotland. His primary contribution however has been as an executive and developer of golf. Dr. Leddy was a governor of the RCGA for many years including the period between 1954 and 1971 at the time of his installation. He was elected president of the national association in 1962, the only Saskatchewan resident to hold the highest position in Canadian golf. In 1962, he was selected as the non-playing captain of the Canadian team in the World Cup matches in Japan. In 1966, he was one of 20 Canadians who were awarded the "silver Beaver" trophy in St. Andrews. As chairman of the national handicap and course rating committee, he set up a system which did much to eliminate the massive backlog of unrated courses that existed at the time. In Saskatchewan, in recognition of his contribution and ability he was elected president of the Saskatchewan Golf Association in 1952 and held a directorship with the body at least until 1971. Through the years he has filled a host of executive positions at the provincial and local levels. Dr. Leddy has been particularly instrumental in the encouragement and the development of high school and junior golf in Saskatchewan. Dr. Leddy refereed provincial and national finals for mens and womens classifications.

 

Barbara Turnbull  

Barbara Turnbull (1973)
Barbara Turnbull won her first Riverside Club championship in 1957 and since then has virtually dominated womens golf in the province. She's won the Riverside championship 14 times, the Saskatoon city title eight times, and has been a member of the Saskatchewan Inter-provincial team for 15 consecutive years. She was a member of the provincial team that tied British Columbia for the national team gross score and won the low net national team trophy in 1967. Turnbull has won the provincial championship five times in the past 10 years. In 1969, the popular Saskatoon golfer reached the finals in the Canadian Ladies Open losing to Marlene Streit. She has been classed in the top 10 in Canada three times and captained the Canadian team to the world championship in Madrid in 1970. The team, which also included Marlene Streit, Gail Moore, and Jocelyn Bourassa, finished fourth out of 21 countries. In 1972, Turnbull was ranked sixth in Canada.

 

Pat FletcherPat Fletcher (1974)
Pat Fletcher achieved his greatest competitive fame while playing out of the Saskatoon Golf and Country Club. He became the first Canadian since 1914 to win the Canadian Open at the Vancouver Point Grey Golf Club in 1954. In addition, he was the winner or runner-up of many professional and open titles during the years 1937 to 1957. During his residence in Saskatoon, he won the Canadian Professional Golfers Association title in 1952, the Canadian Open in 1954, the Rivermead trophy for the low Canadian in the Canadian Open in 1953 and 1954, and was runner-up in the World Jubilee in 1949. He also represented Canada in four World Cup matches and won two pro tournaments in the West Indies. In the "building category", as a long-time member of the Canadian Professional Golfers Association, he organised the Saskatchewan branch, became the first pro President of the Montreal branch and later became president of the National CPGA. As national president, and with the assistance of Clarence Campbell, Pat Fletcher revised the CPGA constitution, adopted a pension plan for the members, and improved relationships between the pros and their clubs. He was inducted in 1974.

 

Dr. Robert D. Reid  

Dr. Robert D. Reid (1975)
Bob Reid was born in Swift Current in 1917 and received his early education in Regina, where he resided from 1923 to 1939. While attending the University of Toronto, he twice won the individual intercollegiate golf championship, the only westerner to top this event. His victories came in 1937 at Summerlea in Montreal and at York Downs in Toronto in 1938. During the period 1936-52, Reid dominated amateur golf in Saskatchewan, winning the amateur championship five times. He qualified eight times to represent Saskatchewan on the Wellingdon team. In provincial amateur match play, he ran up a total of 36 victories against only five defeats. In these matches, he was an incredible 133 holes "up" over his collective opponents. He virtually owned the provincial long driving championship from 1936 to 1946, winning each time he entered. Reid is the only golfer to have won the Saskatchewan junior, amateur, and senior golf championships during has career. Reid has resided and practised dentistry in Prince Albert since 1939, with the exception of six years active service in World War 2.

 

Joanne Goulet (1980)
Joanne Goulet started playing golf at the age of 14. She entered and won her first provincial tournament in 1949, and at 16 was the youngest golfer in the Canadian championships. Since 1952, Goulet has won 17 city championships and has captured the provincial title six times. In 1964, she was a member of the Women's Amateur Golf Team competing in the inaugural world championships, where Canada ranked fourth in a field of 26 countries. She also participated in the British Open in 1964, and won the Commonwealth Trophy as a semi-finalist. She hold course records for the Regina Golf Club (now the Royal Regina Golf Club), the Wascana Golf and Country Club, and the Riverside Golf Club in Saskatoon. Goulet has served her sport as Junior Golf chairperson, and in a number of executive positions at the Royal Regina Golf Club.

 

Tom Ross  

Thomas (Tom) Ross (1981)
Thomas Ross was a player, a club professional, a teacher and coach of champions and plain ordinary golfers for 30 years. He started playing golf at the age of 17 in Scotland and came to Canada at age 28 in 1925. As a player As a player he won the Saskatchewan Open five times in 1928, 1929, 1934, 1935 and 1949, and was the runner-up five times, plus won the Saskatchewan Pro Tournament four times between 1937-41.He was the club pro at Regina Wascana between 1926-32 and at the Regina Golf Club for 32 years between 1933-64. It is there he became synonymous with golf in Regina and Saskatchewan. His long-time contribution of time and knowledge and skill, given freely and without question, stood him high and brought recognition far and wide. He was named "dad of the year" for such contributions in 1964. A great number of his students ultimately ruled amateur golf in Saskatchewan and beyond for many years: 12 provincial amateur titles and 12 runner-ups, 10 provincial ladies titles, six provincial junior titles and five runner-ups, and 11 senior titles with six runner-ups. This truly exemplifies his great value to the game of golf. He was considered by his peers as being one of the finest club professionals during the era of the great upsurge in golf throughout Canada and the US. His steadfast influence among the younger set has made a major contribution to golf in Regina and Saskatchewan. This added immensely to the growth of the game and to the great achievements attained by many through his teaching and coaching.

 

Phil LederhousePhil Lederhouse (1983)
Phil Lederhouse of Prince Albert was born in 1915 and lost his sight in 1934 at age 19. Fifteen years later he took up golf - and with no prior experience and only six months of coaching - won the Canadian Championship in Hamilton and placed third in an International Blind Golfers' Championship. Since 1950, Lederhouse has won the Saskatchewan Provincial Championship 16 times, and has been Canadian champion for Blind Golfers five times (1950,1951, 1961, 1962 and 1965). Lederhouse was also the runner-up in world championships twice and in 1966 held the world record for two years when he shot an "89" for 18 holes at Saskatoon Golf and Country Club. Lederhouse has been sponsored extensively by Lions Clubs and has golfed with the celebrities - Jack Nicklaus, Walter Hagan, Bob Hope, and Ed Sullivan. He was described as a threat in every tournament he took part in. :There was no gimmick in his swing, he does not wallop the ball, he has a natural technique which is his secret weapon." Phil's wife, Ruby a rehabilitation teacher who is also totally blind, was responsible for his initial involvement, and her continued encouragement has made him "the star" he is today.

 

James Joeseph Scissons  

James Joseph (Jim) Scissons (1987)
A well known resident of Saskatoon, Jim Scissons was born in Lucky Lake and later received his early education at St. Joseph's Elementary and St. Paul's High School. At any early age sport became an integral part of his life. He was a member of the Junior Quakers (a forerunner to the Saskatoon Blades) for three seasons, then continued with the University of Saskatewan Huskies.. He finished his competitive hockey involvement in 1970 with the Saskatoon Senior Quakers. During those years, summer was spent on the golf greens. Scissons won many consecutive club championships over his 25 year career. He was city champion six times, central Saskatchewan champion seven times, and Saskatchewan amateur champion five times. He entered the national scene as a junior in 1959, and was a member of the Saskatchewan Willindon Cup team for 10 successive years from 1961 to 1970. Scissons has accumulated more titles than any other male golfer in the province. He has served his sport in the administrative field as a board member for the Saskatoon Golf and Country Club. He is actively involved in coaching minor hockey and loves it. Scissons was inducted into the Saskatchewan Hall of Fame in 1987, and the University of Saskatchewan Wall of Fame in 1984.

 

Gordon Keith Rever (1991)
Keith Rever was born in Regina in 1937 and grew up this province. He attended Luther College High School and the University of Saskatchewan. While he excelled at academics and music, Keith still found time to participate and succeed in athletic endeavors. From an early age, he was involved in hockey, basketball, and golf. In fact, Keith had already been inducted into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame and Museum as a member of a golf team that won the 1964 Willingdon Cup. In this instance, Keith is being installed as a builder of golf in Saskatchewan. Locally, he has been on the board of directors of the Wascana Country Club for 15 years and acted as president in 1980. In serving the Saskatchewan Golf Association, he has been a member of the board of directors since 1962 and was president in 1972-73. In Canada, Keith has been involved extensively with the Royal Canadian Golf as an executive member (1986-90), Governor (1976-85), and President (1989). Among his many efforts, he was instrumental in establishing the Canadian Pro-Am Championship as a national tournament. Internationally, he has offered exceptional leadership. Keith represented Canada at the 1989 Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, the 1989 British Open, and the 1989 World Golf Conference at St. Andrews, Scotland. In addition, he captained a Canadian team at Japan's Pacific Team Championship and met with golf officials from Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

 

Geraldine Street (1988)
Born in Saskatoon in 1935, Geraldine Street began her sport involvement early in life. Although she played her first golf tournament at 16years of age, her athletic endeavors were not confined to one sport. In high school, she played basketball, volleyball, and badminton and was an active figure skater. At the University of Saskatchewan she received a major athletic award for continued involvement in all sports. She has been a curler for 28 years winning numerous events, and she competed for seven years as an equestrian. She still rides occasionally. In golf, Street has won 21 Saskatoon Golf and Country Club championships, seven city, five provincial amateur, four junior provincial championships, and nine Western Canada Lobstick titles, as well as being runner-up six times. She's competed on the Saskatchewan provincial team once as a junior, as an amateur 17 times, twice as a senior. In 1986 and 1987 the Saskatchewan team finished in third place in the senior category. Gerry has been an inspiration to many young gofers in the province and has held administrative positions in both golf and curling.

 

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