Written by Tim Wallace
In fact, the 9-hole course was ready for play on May 24th, just nine weeks after the first turning of the sod, with a total yardage of 2,232. Membership in the first year numbered 143. A tent served as the first Clubhouse while a sum of $3,000 was being approved to build a bungalow style building. The original Clubhouse was located just adjacent to what is now the 4th tee. Arthur J. Darling, patriarch of the soon to be famous Darling golfing clan, was elected first President and Frank Grant was hired as club professional. Frank was the uncle of Phil Grant, a current, long-standing member of the Club. On September 6, 1913, a gala official opening day was held and invitations were sent to golfers from Como, Royal Montreal, Beaconsfield and Country Club to participate in an 18-hole medal play competition.
Expectations for a rapidly expanded membership were squelched somewhat with the outbreak of World War I and the Club’s records list a total of 31 members in active service during that four year period.
Notwithstanding the above, at a Directors’ Meeting on December 15, 1915, plans were approved for an 18-hole layout prepared by Charlie Murray. However, before that took place, the Club purchased an additional piece of land from the Whitlock estate at a cost of $3,000. This was used to build three additional holes (now known as 4, 5, and 6) in 1919. By 1923, Whitlock reached 18-hole status and, with the bridges soon to be completed at Ste. Anne’s and Vaudreuil, there was optimism that many new members would join the Club. Given this 18 hole layout, the lady golfers agreed to do away with Ladies tees and utilize those played by the men provided the rough in front of the tees was kept short!
Between 1919 and 1928, many enlargements and improvements to the then Clubhouse took place. This included the building of a men’s smoking room, a new men’s locker room, conversion of the old locker room into a men’s bar, additional kitchen facilities, more accommodation in the Ladies’ section of the Club House and staff quarters. The subject of acquiring a beer and wine license was first raised in 1922 and, after several turn downs by the members, it was finally approved in 1926. In the interim period, those members who wished to “imbibe” could bring their own bottles and utilize the upstairs “dormitory” for their drinking (there being no bar per se).
In 1930, the Club purchased approximately 16 arpents in order to make the current 14th hole into a dog’s leg and to lengthen the current 15th hole. In 1924, the Club entered the mechanized age with the purchase of a “Worthington” tractor. This allowed the Club to dispose of two of its three horses. One such horse “Barney”, a white working horse, was a favourite who served Whitlock for many years before tractors took over. Appropriately, his picture is displayed in the Front Office. In 1930, the Club initiated steps to become a bird sanctuary. This early beginning expanded to the point where the Club is now formally recognized as a “Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary”. In the early sixties, a crow, which the members named “Sebastian”, used to join one and all on the 1st tee where he made a habit of stealing tees, score cards and any loose change lying around. He became such a regular golf devotee that he was made an honorary member of the Club.
Whitlock went through difficult financial times during the Depression. Between 1930 and 1936, resignations outnumbered applications. Again, starting in 1939 with the outbreak of World War II, the Club’s finances were severely strained as 51 members joined the Armed Services. As a result, consideration was given to operating as a 9-hole course (voted down by the membership) and the dining room was closed beginning in 1943. Membership picked up after the War but the Club, still needing financial resources, issued non-interest bearing debentures in denominations of $75 each totaling $65,400 in 1947 to the membership at large. These were redeemable for $80 by lot of ten each year.
During the middle to late 1950’s, Whitlock’s membership was active and expanding in most categories. The 1957 season marked a Whitlock milestone with the introduction of a “starter” at the 1st tee on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. This was followed in 1962 with the introduction of electric carts. Also, in 1962, the Ile aux Tourtes Bridge was completed which made Whitlock more convenient to golfers on the West Island and even Montreal.
In spring 1958, the Club purchased approximately 80 acres of land bordering the south-west boundaries of the course at a price of $55,000 payable over a fourteen year period. Accordingly, the services of golf architect Howard Watson were retained to begin preliminary planning on the newly-acquired Club property. His assignment was two-fold. Firstly, to reorganize the layout of the course so that both nines would start and finish in one central location. Secondly, to provide a plan for a third nine using the new property and, again, to have the 1st tee and 9th green located in the same area. Work commenced on the reorganized layout in 1961 through the 1963 season to include the current 12th, 13th and 16th holes which did not come into play at the time. In April 1964, construction of a new Clubhouse centrally located at the hub of the eventual three 9-hole layouts was started and completed within seven months at a cost of $359,000. The official opening was held on November 4th of that year. During the 1964 golfing season, members were extremely patient as they were subjected to a rather strange layout during the construction process including the demise of the old 5th hole as the clubhouse was being erected where the 5th green used to be. The original Clubhouse was finally razed in the summer of 1965 and all remains removed with the exception of the field-stone wall at the south-west corner.
While the building of the new Clubhouse was in process, discussions were held with the Hudson Curling Club (site of the local Canadian Legion Branch) over a possible merger with Whitlock. In the fall of 1963, the Hudson Curling Club received formal approval from its members to proceed with such a merger and, accordingly, building plans were amended to include space for four curling sheets. As a result, in late 1963, a charter for the new “Whitlock Golf and Country Club” (superseding the “Whitlock Golf Club”) and incorporating the Hudson Curling Club was applied for and received under the Quebec Companies Act.
In 1967, as a Centennial Project, the blue spruce trees that grace the Club’s entrance were planted. In October 1970, the membership approved the purchase of 76 acres west of Whitlock’s boundary for $151,000 payable over 17 years. Coupled with the earlier purchase, this is the piece of land currently designated for a third 9-hole course if and when circumstances permit.
From the seventies on, many major capital projects have been undertaken to maintain Whitlock’s reputation as a “first-class golfing facility” and to provide the membership with a haven for their social and recreational activities. This has included the building of two maintenance sheds; installation of an underground automated watering system; drainage on numbers 2, 8, 9, 10, 12 and 18 holes; leveling and contouring the 11th hole to expose the green from the tee; plus “state of the art” equipment for every type of maintenance from tee to green. At the same time, the Clubhouse has undergone major refurbishing over the years and the curling rink has remained a first-class facility. This year, Whitlock has installed computer software to provide a highly sophisticated handicap, score entry and starting time booking system.
Whitlock has been heavily involved in Golf Association matters over the years. In 1920, Whitlock was one of the seven founding clubs comprising the Province of Quebec Golf Association (now the Quebec Golf Association). Many Whitlock members have served on its various committees and four members have been appointed its President. In addition, two members were named Governors of the R.C.G.A. and one member a Director of the Senior U.S.G.A.
Finally, Whitlock has been privileged to have had a series of outstanding, long-serving club professionals. In fact, Christian Lavoie, who joined us this year, is only our ninth professional since the Club was formed in 1912. Frank Grant served from 1912-1925, followed by George Elder (1926-1938), Norm Harkness (1939-1942); there was no pro between 1943 and 1945; Bob Ferns (1946), Arnold McLean (1947-1954), Jim McLean (1955-1972), Ben McCallum (1973-1978), and Chuck Tekenos (1979-2002).
As we move ever closer to our 100th anniversary, we can look back and reflect on the progress that has been made since our “grass roots” beginnings back in 1912.
Is it any wonder there is a distinct note of pride when someone says "I’m a member at Whitlock".
Golf Course of Champions
Whitlock has more than its share of exceptional golfers who have achieved world class fame. The notables include:
* Dora Virtue (Darling) - Quebec Ladies Champion (1928); Canadian Ladies Open Champion (1936)
* Bill Darling - Quebec Amateur Champion (?), Western Amateur Champion (1929)
* Judy Darling (Evans) - Quebec Junior Champion (1956); Quebec Ladies Champion (1956); Canadian Ladies Open Champion (1960, 1961); Member of the Canadian Team at the Commonwealth Matches (1956, 1962)
* Mary Darling (Chalmers) - Quebec Junior Champion (1961 and ?)
* Michael Darling - Quebec Junior Champion (1947, 1948)
* Greg Wilson - Quebec Mid-Amateur Champion (1999); Member of the Canadian Mid-Amateur team (2001) *this team won the national championship
* Mary Ann Hayward (Lapointe) - Quebec Provincial Champion (3); 4-time Canadian Amateur Champion; 6-time Quebec Amateur Champion; 5-time Ontario Amateur Champion; 12-time Ontario Mid-Amateur Champion; U.S. Womens'; Mid-Amateur Champion (2005) *she is the first Canadian to win this title; Member of 2006 Canada National Team; Inducted into the Ontario Golf Hall of Fame (2006); Internationally represented Canada 8 times at the World Amateur Championship and 4 times at the Commonwealth Matches; Inducted into the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame (2007); Ontario Senior Amateur Champion, Georgetown, Ontario (2010); Canadian Senior Champion, BC (2010)
* Lorraine How - Quebec Junior Champion (1928)
* Tom Hunter - Quebec Junior Champion (1940); Quebec Senior Champion (1977, 1979, 1985); Canadian Senior Champion (1984) Note: Tom was Whitlock Club Champion over four decades, winning the championship a total of 12 times, namely 1947, 1952, 1960, 1961, 1964, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1975, 1976, and 1977.
Terry Townend – Canadian Senior Champion, Super Senior Division, St.Thomas, ON (2010)
* Hugh Jacques - Quebec Amateur Champion (1926, 1935)
* Joe Leblanc - Quebec Amateur Champion ( 1950, 1956); Quebec Open Champion (1956)
* Rémi Lefebvre - Quebec Junior Champion (1956); Quebec Amateur Champion (1958)
* Yvon Lefebvre - Quebec Amateur Champion (1970)
* Audrey MacIntosh - Quebec Junior Champion (1935)
* Carol et Midge Putnam - Quebec Team Champions (1963)
* Mary Pyke - Quebec Ladies Champion (1949 and 1953); Canadian Ladies Close Champion (1950 & 1956); Member of the Canadian Team at the Commonwealth Matches (1953).