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History of the Alberta Golf Association

Today, the early records of the Alberta Golf Association are nowhere to be found. Their pre 1930’s accounts of meetings, finances, and membership are balls lost in the rough of yesterday’s friendships and competitions.

What we know about the Association’s founding can only be interpreted from faded newspaper and magazine snippets easily overlooked on yesterday’s sports pages dominated by the headlines for more popular sports such as baseball, horse racing, shooting, cricket and polo.

 Because the Association was formed primarily to host the provincial golf championships, the Association’s internal activities were hardly considered news items. Most often, notes about the Association were run in the social columns featuring tea parties that often accompanied a gathering of golfers.

The first hint of a provincial organization is from September 21, 1897 when the Winnipeg Free Press reported: “The amateur golf championship of southern Alberta will eb contested for at (Fort) Macleod on  Monday and Tuesday Sept. 27th and 28th.”

It wasn’t until 1908 that the first provincial champion was declared: Charlie Hague of the hosting Calgary Golf and Country Club. The championship then alternated between the Edmonton Country Club and the Calgary GCC.

By 1911, Alberta golf had changed dramatically when the Edmonton and Calgary clubs became landowners and were formally organized. The leading members of the clubs were, generally speaking, financially successful and astute businessmen and, naturally enough, they expected their clubs – in which they had invested money to buy land – to be organized as responsibly as their businesses.

The 1911 Dinner at the New Clubhouse
To celebrate the opening in 1911 of its new course and $50,000 clubhouse. the Calgary GCC hosted a tournament that drew golfers for individual and team matches from all over the province, many of whom were intent on forming a provincial golfing organization.Probably for the first time. a golf tournament made the Sports Page headline of the Calgary Daily Herald – Golf Tournament Opens – and in the October 6 1911 article was a revealing sentence: “The (Calgary GCC) board is giving a dinner at the new club house tonight to outside golfers. It is their intention to organize a new Alberta Golf Association.”

This dinner would become the founding event for the modern Alberta Golf Association. Soon after that dinner the Association was officially formed with by­laws that. while the original documents are long lost. are referred to in current by-laws.

The Five Founding Clubs
Officially, the founding clubs of the Alberta Golf Association were: The Lethbridge Country Club, The (Fort) Macleod Golf Club, Calgary St. Andrews Golf Club, The Edmonton Country Club and The Calgary Golf and Country Club.

 

The 1912 executive of the Alberta Golf Association was: President A. McMahon of Calgary; Vice President Dr. Cobbett of Edmonton and Secretary­-Treasurer T. Gillespie of Granum. (Source: Sport in Early Calgary, William M. McLennan.}

Interestingly, The Lethbridge Country Club was not registered as a club until 1913, a year after the Alberta Golf Association’s formation.

 

Basement Storage Walled-In
An explanation for the loss of the early records might be that, until the 1970’s, the Association never had a permanent home; the records would have been lugged yearly between the clubs or homes of the Association’s officers charged with their
keeping.

It is not hard to imagine the reluctance of a new association secretary to store boxes of old ledgers and minute books. Very likely, only the most recent boxes were kept and the rest discarded.

As well. clubhouses made poor vaults. The Edmonton CC. one of the most likely places where records would have been kept, and the Calgary GCC tore their clubhouses down in the 1950’s to build modern ones. In the basement of the old Calgary GCC clubhouse. members found an entire storage room that had been walled-in. Who knows today what records might have been stored there? Records were also probably forgotten during the war years when the tournaments were cancelled and. in practical terms. the Association had no business to conduct.

In reality, the loss of the early records is of little consequence when compared to what has been retained: 100 years of dedication to golf in Alberta.

 

Historical Champions (1907-2021)
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The Alberta Golf Hall of Fame honours the legacies of men and women who have made a difference on the Alberta golf scene either as a skilled player, through distinguished service, or as a builder. Please click the Player and Distinguished Service Inductees links to view the current members of the Alberta Golf Hall of Fame and their distinguished careers. Nomination forms must be submitted by June 1st each year for consideration. Please contact us to receive a copy of the updated nomination forms.

Player Inductees:

Keith Alexander
Duane Barr
Glenn Gray
Pat Heisler
Buddy Loftus
Henry Martell
Rae Milligan Simpson
Marilyn O’Connor
Kareen Qually Nelson
Doug Silverberg
Betty Stanhope-Cole
Bill Tait
Ken Tamke
Frank Van Dornick
Diane Williams
Robert L. Wylie
David Schultz

Distinguished Service Inductees:

Jack Brooks
Thelma Coutts
Ken Heywood
Tony Krivoblocki
Fran Marsden
A.H (Babe) McAvoy
Frank McBride
Sid Puddicombe
Lola Rozsa
Ken Sharratt
Jean Smeland
Bill Sturgeon
Sylvia Blasken
Brent Ellenton
Florin Bergh
Les Swelin
Martin Blake