Fore! Score and no parking on the green

The game of golf is an opportunity for the participants to get together and socialize while being pleased and frustrated almost simultaneously. It is a game that is governed by many rules, many of which are unwritten and revolve around etiquette towards others who enjoy the game.

That said, do you remember the time when one of these unwritten rules sparked controversy in the letter to the editor column of the local newspaper?

In July of 1980, a newcomer to the game of golf decided to partake in a round of golf with a few friends, when they unknowingly committed what is considered a ‘faux pas’ in the golf world – they drove their cart on the green.

The author of this letter received what was called ‘a blast’ from a seasoned golfer about the indiscretion that was committed. Unnerved by the situation, the author wrote a cautionary tale for other newcomers to help them avoid a similar welcome.

A letter to the editor column that was meant to caution fellow newcomers to the sport about an unwritten rule, was met with a rebuttal a few days later. He urged people to “familiarize yourself with the basic rules and general etiquette for the designated sport” (Sault Star, July 22, 1980).

The letter expressed their support of the response the seasoned golfer inflicted on the newcomer, given the “time and expense involved in grooming a golf course in good condition” (Sault Star, July 22, 1980), being more expansive than the maintenance of other sports facilities. Which was surely a comment on the previous author’s jest of ‘Tennis, anyone?’ to end the submission to the editor.

Golf courses are laborious to not only maintain but to develop and implement as well.

Our city’s original course, The Sault Ste. Marie Golf Club was envisioned in early 1919. The committee involved in the selection of a locale for the city’s first golf course had it narrowed down to two locations.

The first was at Moore’s Point, which was inspected by those involved, and established that a course was “possible to prepare…by using temporary greens” (Sault Star, May 28, 1919, pg. 1). It was seen as an “ideal [location]of good sandy formation, which [would] permit play at all times” (Sault Star, May 28, 1919, 1).

However, many elements had to be considered before the committee was to proceed with the venture. It was estimated that the clubhouse would have cost $20,000, and despite the suitable roads that carry prospective golfers to the venue, improvements may have had to be made to accommodate its future club members.

Eventually, the organizers enlisted the consultation of a Mr. Cummings, an expert in the development of courses, to offer his opinion. If you have golfed the Sault Ste. Marie Country Club, it is clear that Mr. Cummings “approved…the Wilson property on the waterfront in the eastern part of the city, and said he had no hesitation in recommending it as a first-class locality” (Sault Star, June 19 , 1919, pg. 1).

The location that we know today had the same ‘sandy nature’, however, the Queen Street location offered a more varied terrain, wooded areas, and the possibility for members to gain access to the course via water.

Shortly after Mr. Cummings’ approval of the property, it was purchased by investors after negotiations were held up to ascertain whether club members were able to ‘secure the water lots’ (Sault Star, July 04, 1919, pg.1), adjacent to the course itself.

After the purchase was finalized, the aforementioned golf expert visited in order to plan and provide the layout of the course itself.

Fast forward to April of the following year, membership near two hundred and Pat McCormack, who oversaw the construction of the course, was recommended by Mr. Cummings to be the groundsman in his inaugural season.

It does seem as though there is a lot that goes into the development of golf courses as witnessed in the April 13th, 1920, article entitled Golf Club Starts with Fine Course.

“A considerable amount of draining and clearing had to be done, including the deepening and widening of the creek which meanders through the property,” (25) the author of the article writes.

The development of any golf course requires a considerable amount of effort, which does not end after it opens for its members. It requires the groundsman, in this case, McCormack and his assistants, to maintain the integrity of the course for golf enthusiasts.

Fortunately enough, Sault Ste. Marie has four golf courses to enjoy during our limited summer season, including the aforementioned Sault Ste. Marie Golf Club, Crimson Ridge, Silver Creek, and Root River Golf Club.

Anyone for a round of golf? We will just have to be sure not to park our cart on the green.

Each week, the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library and its Archives provides SooToday readers with a glimpse of the city’s past.

Find out more of what the Public Library has to offer at and look for more Remember This? columns here.

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