Reflections back to May 6th, 1989
The opening of the BC Golf Museum as remembered by the three men credited with founding the BC Golf Museum: Mike Riste, Dick White, Harry White
Arv Olson Vancouver Sun golf reporter:
“Memories can be jogged and eyes can be feasted on a myriad of artefacts, books, photographs, trophies, and memorabilia. The shelves will display much more than wooden shafted clubs, feathered balls, and musty books. Brown has developed unique period settings, to be frequently changed, in presenting golf’s rich heritage in B.C. and internationally.
The building itself is a showcase. Resurrected to original specifications it sparkles as brightly as the day it was opened. Thirty-three corporations donated building materials.”
Kent Gilchrist, Vancouver Province golf reporter:
“The B.C. Golf House is finally open. PGA Tour veteran Dave Barr made it official yesterday afternoon amid fanfare and ceremony.
Thanks to three years of effort, a small grant from the provincial government as well the use of the land and refurbished building, and the generous monetary support of the likes of George Yen, Norm Edgar, the Hunt Corporation, and the Poldi Bentley family, the museum with more than 3,000 pieces of history opened at 2:00 PM yesterday.
You will visit Tom Morris, the most famous golf pro of his day in the 1870’s and see the padded shoes horses wore so they didn’t damage fairways when they were pulling the mowers.”
Dick White – BC Golf House Society’s first president:
“I do remember parading next to the fence in our yellow sweaters. A number of dignitaries on the porch included the CLGA in their red jackets particularly Grace Mohl. Father Brown gave the blessing. I recall Dave Barr striking a feather ball with our old iron & wishing that Dunc Sutherland had been there as well. Pipers in attendance plus a TV crew. Steve Armitage was the master of ceremonies making a superb speech and I felt proud to have been a part of the effort. Kim Campbell also spoke praising our efforts.”
“Reflecting back on that sunny Saturday afternoon many thoughts come to mind. Why we chose Saturday afternoon rather than Sunday afternoon I cannot remember.
At the last meeting, before the opening Dorothy informed the Board she had selected the piper to officially commence the ceremonies. She then insisted upon the Board members assembling near the large trees on the left of the 17th fairway. With the sun shining brightly overhead, the piper commenced the long march with all the directors trailing behind. The group included: Dick White, Harry White, Ken Atkinson, our lawyer, Donna Thompson, Bert McCabe, Michael Bentley, Ernie Brown & Les Paterson, our golf tournament chairmen, and Mike Riste.
With the shrill of the bagpipes filling the air, with all the assembled guests and visitors waiting on the porch, and with the golfers on the course standing like statues the directors slowly proceeded down the fairway. My mind began to reflect back to the day I entered the building for the first time after obtaining the keys from the Endowment Lands and Forest Office.
That first step into the building on that cold November evening is forever etched in my mind. There was no power, no heat, and the building interior reeked of this pungent odour. Over the next hour, this striking odour captivated me. What was causing it? Of course, it dawned on me. One smells that odor in a public washroom. It is the smell of the red liquid soap that is contained in every metal dispenser next to the basin- the one you push to dispense the liquid soap.
The mold covered walls and the many rooms strewn with junk seemed endless. Obviously, someone departed leaving all disposable items on the floor. We would send 10 thirty-yard containers to the landfill before we even commenced the actual renovation.
A sudden cold fear gripped me. Mike are you actually capable of renovating this building into a Golf Museum or have you undertake an insurmountable task?
As we neared the porch where Dorothy patiently waited to greet the Board, I felt this great satisfaction – we did it. We renovated this dilapidated old building into a functioning contributing facility for golf. The greatest satisfaction at that moment and still exists today is a very simple fact. We renovated this building with volunteer labour, donated funds, and donated building materials. Whenever we reached the final last dollar in our bank account or we required our materials to be restocked, someone in the golf community came through with the necessary assistance. Materials came from suppliers in Vancouver, but also dimension lumber traveled hundreds of miles to the little Museum that desperately needed assistance.
To this day the Golf Museum still relies on the generosity of the golf community.”
My recollections for the preparations leading to the “Grand Opening” of “Golf House”, twenty years ago.
A very dedicated group of “dreamers” gathered together; the collective energy, wisdom and resources of the BC golfing community to set before the public what would be a unique and valuable resource for the preservation and display of collectibles of the ancient and honourable game of golf in B.C. and indeed, the world.
The early years were full of planning, budgeting, acquiring materials of all descriptions – even ensuring we did indeed receive access to our little plot of land at 10th and Blanca and had an address to hang our hat.
1986 was the Centennial Year for Vancouver and we followed the spirit of those days by meeting very often and for long periods, following through on ideas for funding – memberships, the golf tournament, sponsors both private and corporate, etc. Mike Riste and Dick White had the fabulous memorabilia that went into the facility. With donations gratefully received and good channels of communication opened with the USGA Golf House, etc. How lucky we were to have such commitment to success and determination to follow through and make the dream happen. Easily the most memorable experiences were finding the three key sponsors that enabled the Directors to have funds to pay for materials needed to build Golf House. What great good news it was to find George Williams, George Yen and Poldi Bentley. Next and just as important and memorable was the incredible drive and skill of Mike Riste in actually “gutting out’ and “putting back together” the venerable building that had stood since 1930 and been known as the University Golf Course clubhouse. Mike’s single minded determination and focus was the inspiration and guiding force for what we knew would be a terrific outcome.
Mike had the vision and hands on task of making every detail required to faithfully restore the venerable facility to its 1930 glory – and with a lot of old fashioned “blood, sweat and tears”, the day by day projects were completed and on or under budget! So many people and companies provided materials at cost or by donation that enabled the renovation to proceed and be ready for the driving of the “feathery-ball for the Golf House opening”!
Dreamers and doer’s got things done and I am privileged to have been involved with the wonderful group of golfing gals and guys who made the undertaking so much fun and the opening such a fulfilling occasion – seeing the finished product – a lasting and living monument to the “spirit of the game”.