WESTERN CANADA GOLF ASSOCIATION – A CAPSULE HISTORY
After WW 1 golfers from the west showed important successes in the Canadian Men’s Amateur Championship. The Manitoba Golf Association led by HA Bruce, the Saskatchewan champion, lobbied the Royal Canadian Golf Association (RCGA) to hold the Amateur in the west. In 1920 Tom Gillespie, the Calgary Champion, reached the men’s final losing to CB Grier. During the twenty-second annual meeting of the RCGA at Beaconsfield Golf club, the delegates rewarded the Manitoba Golf Association (MGA) with the opportunity to host the 1921 Canadian Men’s Amateur Championship at the Winnipeg Golf Club.
The MGA seized the opportunity to prove the best golfers in the east that the western provinces had some excellent high quality courses not just “a bunch of cow pastures”. Also by assembling the best players from the west, the WGA executives planned to illustrate the western players could compete at the national level. Distance and travel expenses prevented the western [players to show their talents. had The Manitoba officials lobbied golfers in BC , Alberta, and Saskatchewan to send the best players to the national championship. The officials spread the word about the championship throughout Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois hoping to attract their top flight players ever assembled for the Canadian amateur. During the actual qualifying rounds for the Amateur officials planned a team competition for the best four players from each of the provinces in Canada. This idea would expand the present Willingdon Cup matches between teams from Ontario and Quebec into an assembly of the best players in the country.
On the Saturday August 20th, 1921, the championship committee felt disappointed and betrayed. Their efforts to host the best Canadian Amateur ever had fallen short. Players from BC did not appear. Most disappointing was the fact only two stars from the eastern provinces Frank Thompson and GP Shaw attended. Even the reigning CB Grier did not defend his title. The MGA officials felt the RCGA had failed to fulfill their commitment to the event.
Despite the lack of top calibre competition, the event gave the best players in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba the opportunity to participate in the National Men’s Championship. Because of travel costs these players could not attend the championship in Ontario or Quebec.
Frank Thompson, a member of the famous Thompson family that included the great Canadian golf course architect Stanley Thompson, Shaw from Weston GC, AA Weir, a Saskatchewan championship, and CW Hague, the Alberta champion reached the semi-finals. Playing entertaining golf for the Winnipeg spectators Frank Thompson defeated Hague in a thrilling 38 – hole final. The MGA officials hosted a very successful first ever in the west Canadian Amateur Championship.
HA Bruce- First President of the Western Canada Golf Association
Golf officials in the west felt snubbed by the lack of support from the RCGA and the clubs in the east at the 1921 Canadian Championships. “The impetus for the Western Canada Golf Association had its origin in the discontent aroused by the fact that the east offered scant support for the 1921 Canadian Amateur Championship at the Winnipeg GC. The strong support promised by the eastern clubs for the 1921 championship never materialized.” In 1922 HA Bruce began circulating the idea of a major championship for the western provinces organized by a regional association. In order to spread the game and raise the level of play for the best western players, the region required an annual major championship. He cited the success of the Pacific Northwest Golf Association (PNGA) as the model the new association should follow. The PNGA championships increased the popularity of golf throughout the northwest – Washington, Oregon, British Columbia, Idaho, and Montana. The PNGA championships provided the best players from the region with the opportunity to compete in a tournament that equalled any hosted in the eastern US. In fact the high calibre of play at the PNGA Championships enticed the champions from California to travel north to participate.
In 1923 during the annual meeting for the Manitoba Golf Association (MGA), the delegates from the Norwood GC and the Calgary G&CC sponsored a motion to lay the ground work for the formation of the Western Canada Golf Association. The resolution read: “That in the view of the great increase in the number of clubs and players in the western provinces in recent years; as a result of the growing popularity of the game amongst all classes of the community; and the proved impossibility of bringing together at a Dominion championship a field of representatives of the various parts of the Dominion, it would be greatly in the interest of the game , that a Western Canada Amateur Championship should now be instituted to be held annually in the different western provinces in rotation and under the auspices of the RCGA.” The Manitoba Golf Association undertook the task to canvass officials in BC, Alberta, and Saskatchewan for their input into the formation of the Western Canada Golf Association. In 1923 during the Saskatchewan provincial championships delegates from the western clubs passed the motion to form the Western Canada Golf Association with the first championship to be held at the Riverside CC assisted by the Saskatoon GC from August 9 – 16th 1924.
The inaugural championship attracted over 200 players to a full slate of events for juniors, professionals, and amateurs. Without doubt the championships represented the largest, most successful, and influential championships ever hosted by a golf club in the west. To his credit Frank Thompson, the 1921 Canadian Men’s Amateur Champion at Winnipeg participated in the inaugural event. BC players did not compete in the inaugural event. The success of the event definitely gained the attention of the RCGA officials. In fact the governing body offered to allow a Winnipeg club to host the Canadian Open in the near future. The Western Canada Golf officials declined the invitation.
From 1924 – 1928 the WGCA officials hosted successful and influential events at the: 1924 Riverside GC assisted by Saskatoon CC; 1925 Calgary G&CC ; 1926 Pine Ridge GC (Winnipeg); 1927 Moose Jaw GC ; 1928 Edmonton G&CC assisted by Mayfair; 1929 Jasper G&CC in conjunction with the Canadian Men’s Amateur Championship
The WCGA cancelled the 1930 golf tournament offering several reasons for the cancellation. The western championships were held in conjunction with the provincial championships interfering with the provincial championships. The WCGA officials felt their main objective for forming the regional association had been fulfilled. Originally the western officials wanted to gain the attention of the RCGA to hold the national championships in the west. After the success of the 1929 Canadian Amateur Championship at Jasper, the RCGA committed to “hold the Amateur and the Open in the west every five years.” The RCGA held their Canadian Men’s Amateur Championship in 1933 at Shaughnessy Heights in Vancouver, 1936 at St Charles in Winnipeg, and 1946 at Mayfair in Edmonton. Shaughnessy Heights hosted the 1948 Canadian Open.
The WCGA remained intact through 1930 – 1935 even though the organization held no events. In 1940 the BC Professional Golfers’ Association cancelled the BC Open due to lack of finances and the possibility most of the local professionals would be involved in the war effort. Led by Sports Editor Stu Keate, the Vancouver Daily Province newspaper donated $750 for the purse. Keate managed to raise independently another $250 to increase the pot for the professionals to $1000. The Province called their event “The Western Canada Open”. Playing over the rain soaked Capilano layout Fred Wood won the title over Neil Christian, the Yakima professional. Ken Black, Capilano’s leading amateur and the reigning Canadian amateur champion finished third. No players from the prairies participated.
In 1941 The Province again sponsored the event at the Shaughnessy Heights Golf Course. Ken repeated his 1936 win defeating the leading northwest professionals. Black defeated Stan Leonard by one stroke. Because of the War only five professionals from the northwest participated.
The museum is on the search for trophies, photos, scorecards or other memorabilia associated with the Western Canada Golf Association (WCGA) Championships.
RESULTS FOR the Western Canada Golf Association Championships
Western Canada Amateur Champion Jack Cuthbert Winnipeg
Western Canada Junior Champion
Western Canada Open Champion George Daniel Assiniboine Winnipeg
Western Canada Professional Champion George Daniel
Western Canada Club Team Champion
George Daniel winner of the first Canada Western Open and the Canada Western Professional Championships
Western Canada Amateur Champion Carson MacWilliam Calgary
Western Canada Lady Champion Mrs. JT Gray Calgary
Western Canada Junior Champion Emerson Mack Calgary
Western Canada Open Champion Jack Cuthbert (a) Winnipeg
Western Canada Professional Champion Duncan Sutherland Edmonton
Western Canada Club Team Champion St Andrews GC Calgary
Western Canada Amateur Champion Carson MacWilliams Calgary G&CC
Western Canada Junior Champion
Western Canada Open Champion Ned McKenna Minaki
Western Canada Professional Champion
Western Canada Club Team Champion Calgary G&CC
Western Canada Amateur Champion Jack Cuthbert Norwood GC Winnipeg
Western Canada Junior Champion
Western Canada Open Champion Fred Fletcher Moose Jaw
Western Canada Professional Champion Fred Fletcher Moose Jaw
Western Canada Club Team Champion Norwood GC
Western Canada Amateur Champion James Mountifield Edmonton Muni
Western Canada Lady Champion Miss May Mountifield Edmonton Muni
Western Canada Junior Champion Ed McFayden
Western Canada Open Champion Thomas McGrath Moose Jaw
Western Canada Professional Champion James Rimmer Jasper
Western Canada Club Team Champion Mayfair GC Edmonton
Western Canada Amateur Champion AB Darling Whitlock GC
The only Western Canada Golf Association event held in conjunction with the Canadian Men’s Amateur Championship
Western Canada Open Fred Wood
Western Canada Open Ken Black (a)
The museum is on the search for any memorabilia associated with the Western Canada Golf Association.
Contact the BC Golf Museum at email: firstname.lastname@example.org