When it comes to golf history, how do you think Canada stacks up against such countries as Scotland, Ireland and or the United States?
Well, it may surprise you to know we do have a relatively lengthy history surrounding the game, especially when you look at it from a North American perspective.
The game has its deep roots firmly planted in Scotland (although there is some evidence of the game being play by the Dutch even earlier) but the first published reference of golf being played on Canadian soil was in 1826 in a story filed in the Montreal Herald.
It related how a group of Scottish immigrants had gathered at Priests Seminary Farm to play golf Christmas Day.
It is one of the many interesting facts you will find while visiting the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame at Glen Abbey Golf Course in Oakville, Ontario.
This year is an incredibly special one for the HOF. It is marking fifty years of operation with a COVID influenced gala event on June 8th, so a gathering of the hall’s members will not happen.
“I know that the honoured members really do love getting together on what has now become Hall of Fame day,” explained Meggan Gardener, Director, Heritage Services Golf Canada. “In some cases, the only time these honoured members see each other is that time of year.”
Plans for the celebration began a few years ago and since then organizers have been busy putting together a video showcasing fifty of the most influential moments in Canada’s golf history said Gardener.
“This is not only moments that feature our current hall of famers, but these are all the moments that are starting to shape the landscape and are involving our future hall of famers. So, there’s a moment of Brooke Henderson who we know is going to be a future hall of famer and there’s another moment of Adam Hadwin shooting 59.”
The golfing public can view the videos by going to https://heritage.golfcanada.ca/top-50-moments/ but you an also get involved deeper in the celebration using the voting page to cast a ballot for your favourite one of the fifty.
Included on the list is an interview with Ted Fletcher whose dad Pat was the last Canadian to hoist the trophy as the winner of the Canadian Open in 1954.
Another part of the gala is an online auction which features rounds of golf, lessons from some of Canada’s top coaches and a golf bag contributed by one of Canada’s most famous players.
“Mike Weir called me and said I sent you a package, did you get it yet and I said no but I will look out for it,” said Gardener. She got a call saying there was a package waiting for her and when she opened it up there was Weir’s golf bag which he used a couple of weeks earlier at the Masters.
With COVID forcing changes to the gala, another spectre looms off in the distance for the hall. It is located at Glen Abbey Golf Course and there is a speculation the course will shut down for good.
So, what does that mean for the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame?
Gardner says Golf Canada has focussed on the importance of heritage for over one hundred years and she feels the organization is not wavering on that aspect just because Glen Abbey might close its doors.
“With the changing landscape of hall of fames and museum we do need to strategize about our future,” she said, including working with other stakeholders like the PGA of Canada. “Our long-term strategy includes mixing together not only our physical space we currently have in the museum but digital and virtual exhibitions.”
Gardener says they are exploring a travelling exhibition which can be shared with courses right across the country.
“We’re a national Hall of Fame and Museum. We shouldn’t be located in just one location.”
So, with doors closed now because of the pandemic, Gardener is hopeful once things get better the hall will be open once again for all to enjoy, right across the country.