1951 BRITISH COLUMBIA OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP AT TRAIL BC.
Over its sixty-five year history (1928 – 1994) two problems plagued the BC Open: lack of sponsors and a disinterested golfing public. Due to strong lobbying efforts by Ernie Brown and the Stone brothers, Reg and Roy, the British Columbia Professional Golfers Association (BCPGA) decided to act boldly. The professionals moved the provincial open championship to the hinterlands. Because of Cominco and strong local support the club President Lloyd Williams Trail won the right to host the first BC Open held outside the Vancouver/Victoria region. Secondly the association gambled the nine hole Trail layout could successfully conduct the championship. Also the association hoped to “ boost golf in the Kootenays” with this bold move.
“Peter McIntyre, the Cominco superintendent, Reg and Roy Stone were responsible for the development of this neat nine-hole mountainside course.” The Trail Golf Club formed in 1922 on the present Warfield Subdivision site. In 1927 due to lack of water McIntyre and Bill Dunbar decided to move to the present mountainside location. An abundance of water allowed the course to be fully watered to every area of the course. Most Kootenay and Interior courses could only water their greens at this time. In 1937 the Stone brothers moved to Trail from Chilliwack. The family sold the family bakery in Chilliwack and located in the Kootenays. The Stones first illustrate their golfing prowess in the Fraser Valley Open Championships in 1933 – 1936.
The Vancouver golfing fraternity hoped the event would be a duel between the Pacific Northwest’s most prominent players Chuck Congdon, the Tacoma Country and Golf Club professional and Stan Leonard, the Marine Drive Golf Club professional. Although the field was generally not as strong as the championships held in Vancouver/Victoria twenty-five northwest professionals plus the leading Northwest amateurs composed the ninety-four-player field. The Donaldson brothers Harry and Art, the Stone brothers Reg and Roy, Jimmy Johnstone, Lyle Hurschman, Frank Willey, Tom Boucher, Dunc Sutherland and Bob Kidd entertained the crowds. The long hitting Congdon did not disappoint the spectators.
After two rounds it appeared Congdon would leave the field in the dust with his long drives. He had an insurmountable seven stroke lead. Local Spokane amateurs P. Baird and M. Dukich shot 68 and 69 respectively. Stan waited for his game to rise to the occasion. He got hot narrowing the lead to two strokes after 54 holes. Unfortunately Leonard could not maintain this torrid pace into the final round. Chuck Congdon shot a final round 33 – 32 to Leonard’s 77. Bud Moe of Spokane defeated Bob Kidd, the 1951 Willingdon Cup alternate, in an extra hole play-off to win the Pro-Made trophy. Leading scores: Chuck Congdon 278, Stan Leonard 287, Frank Willey 288, Art Donaldson 292, Tom Boucher 292, Ray Honsberger 293, Ernie Brown 294.
The BCPGA did not move the event from the private clubs in Vancouver/Victoria again until 1961 when Chilliwack hosted the event. In 1978 Ben Ginter’s Pacific Brewery assumed all costs when the company hosted the event at Prince George Golf & Curling Club. In 1993 the final BC Open sponsored by the BCPGA moved to the new Predator Ridge course in Vernon, BC.
This popular West Kootenay event is still annually played at Trail. The BC Golf Museum is attempting to complete our list of winners for this event. We are also seeking memorabilia from this event: programs, photographs, pairing sheets.