Alberta Golf’s Journey Through Our Past
Written by Taylor Tracey
Alberta Golf’s Journey Through Our Past: A recap of where we were, to where we are, and where we plan to go with our storied history.
Our journey into Alberta Golf’s past began with a warehouse full of boxes and a table nicknamed “Question Mark Corner”.
In the fall of 2016 Alberta Golf had finished another season of running Alberta’s amateur golf championships and were amidst off-season planning. As part of this, the staff met and began writing everything that Alberta Golf did that summer on sticky notes. From here we decided what was important to our business and what were things we didn’t need to focus on. This process became known as “The Retreat” and has become an annual event to begin our planning for each year. In 2016, there were 125 things written on sticky notes and this was narrowed down to 40 items that made up our business plan. From this exercise, history was identified as an important aspect and added to our business plan for that year.
At the time, our warehouse was full of banker boxes with items from running our annual competitions. The first step in learning about our history was going through all these banker boxes and discovering what was in each of them. In each box you would find a variety of things including tournament posters that would hang at host clubs, tournament results, a stack of scorecards, fact sheets, evacuation plans, and anything else you can think of when you think of an Alberta Golf championship. In each box our goal was to identify what was important, what wasn’t, and what we were unsure of. As you could imagine 80% of each box was full of things that did not matter anymore, but every now and then you would come across the important stuff, and this is how Question Mark Corner was coined. All the items we felt had some importance were put into this corner for safekeeping.
With our warehouse being full and preparations for the next year, opening boxes became a backburner project to say the least. But each fall and winter we would continue sorting through our history and discover more and more about golf in Alberta. After 3 winters of sifting through our past we finally had it narrowed down to items in “Question Mark Corner”. Small problem… we didn’t know what everything was.
Then came Meggan Gardner from the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame. Meggan came out to our office for 4 days in 2020, starting first thing in the morning and finishing well past 6pm every night, eating every meal at the office and combing through our remaining items. She ended up telling us what everything was, cataloguing all the items, and most importantly telling us what we should keep and what could be thrown out. Meggan even ran into items she hadn’t seen before like an original photo of Charlie Hague, the first Alberta Men’s Amateur winner who won in 1907,1908, 1910, and 1912. At Golf Canada, Meggan has Charlie’s diaries, but to put a face to the writing brought another level to the artifact. From here, we scanned all the items that we had elected to keep, creating a digital library totalling over 2230 artifacts, photos, and documents. This library sat untouched for a year, as no one was able to take on the role to comb through everything.
1965 Winningdon Cup Team: Ed Thomes, Doug Silverberg, Keith Alexander, Ray Rhoader and Bob Wylie
WATCH VIDEO: MEGGAN GARDNER SIFTS THROUGH ALBERTA GOLF’S HISTORY
In the summer of 2021, I was hired as an intern with one of my main roles being the organization of this digital library. 2 years and 2230 artifacts later, we find ourselves where we are now: a working Hall of Fame. We’re now able to start showcasing all the work that has been put in on this project. At this point we can answer requests such as providing photos from different championships, information on all our previous interprovincial teams and even newspaper articles from the 60s about championships we don’t run anymore.
1955 Ladies Interprovnincial team: Rae Milligan SImpson, Mrs. A.K. Snell, Audrey Dyck, Betty Stanhope-Cole
Overall, we have a better grasp of our history as an organization and can begin displaying this. We’re currently planning to create heritage displays that will travel to our 2023 Men’s Amateur, Women’s Amateur, and Alberta Open Championships. These will be complete with photos, artifacts, newspapers clippings, and even bag tags from previous iterations of these events. In the spring of 2023 we had our first Hall of Fame induction ceremony in nearly 3 years, for two extremely deserving Distinguished Service Award winners, golf course designer Bill Newis and Dunc Mills who ran the McLennan Ross Alberta Junior Tour for over 25 years.
WATCH VIDEO: BILL NEWIS AND DUNC MILLS GO INTO THE ALBERTA GOLF HALL OF FAME
Looking to the future we understand that this project never truly has an end. History is always being made, you can always discover more on a topic, but our overall goal remains the same; strengthen the connection between our history and its role in our future. The first step is to start archiving our current events. Keeping track of our current winners, current results, taking a plethora of photos at our events, keeping event fact sheets, advertisements, and anything else that could be important in 50 years from now. From there you can continue to dive deeper into time, researching the gaps in our history to make it more complete for everyone. In addition to this we plan to create a stand-alone Alberta Golf heritage website to display our ever-growing archives, and our deserving Hall of Fame inductees. We will continue displaying our history at championships, with the hope of bringing our displays to other storied championships. Our long-term goal is to one day create a physical hall of fame like that of Golf Canada. While this may be a lofty goal, so was creating our digital library.
Golf in Alberta has a long and storied past from the long forgotten Inter-City Match Play and the Eaton 4 Ball Matches in the 50s. The glory of the 60s & 70s with Wylie, Silverberg, and Alexander running the show and the pure dominance by Betty Stanhope Cole, Rae Milligan, and Marilyn O’Connor. To the golf course boom in the 80s and 90s, and the rise of the new generation in 00s.
1952 Bob Wylie putting – Eaton 4 Ball Finals
Alberta Golf is dedicated to preserving this history and excited for what the next generation can add to it.