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Toronto Golf Club's History

The Toronto Golf Club originated in 1876. There were, at that time, no golf clubs in the United States and only two in Canada – the Royal Montreal Golf Club, founded in 1873, and the Royal Quebec Golf Club, founded in 1875. 
James Lamond SmithThe founder of the Club and its first Captain, was James Lamond Smith of “Ben Lamond” in East Toronto, a native of Aberdeenshire, Scotland, who emigrated to Canada in 1840 and died in 1883.

He was succeeded as Captain in 1880 by R.H. Bethune, an outstanding banker from Toronto, who became a mainstay of the Club.
For many years, the Club was not incorporated, and it used as its “golfing green” some vacant farm lands north of the Woodbine. That its tenure of these lands was precarious is revealed by the fact that its secretary reported in The Golfing Annual of 1880-89 that its members “have been turned off their ground by building speculators. But they have”, he added, arranged for a new ground, which they expect will be ready for next season". This refers no doubt to the Fernhill property, which the Club later purchased.

Other interesting details about the Club in 1888 were furnished
by the Secretary to the Annual, as follows:

Entrance Fee - $5.00
Annual Subscription - $5.00    Number of Members - 35

There was at first no Clubhouse. Members frequently took picnic-baskets with them, and had their lunch under the trees. It was not until the early nineties that the Club obtained the use of two rooms in a house nearby the course, and it was not until 1894 that the members had a Clubhouse of their own. In that year, the Club was incorporated as “The Toronto Golf Association, Limited”, and leased (and later purchased) the Fernhill property on which it had been playing. On this property was a deserted mansion, locally known as 'the haunted house', which was, in 1894, rebuilt and remodeled as a Clubhouse; and this quaint building remained the home of the Club for nearly twenty years.
Through the generosity of the Captain in deeding to the Club a parcel of adjacent land, in 1894 it became possible to extend the course from nine holes to eighteen holes. A professional was engaged; the membership, which was limited at first to one hundred and sixty, was rapidly filled, and a waiting list made its appearance.


The membership included a number of first-class golfers, among them the famous “Andy” Smith, who was perhaps, the most noted player of his day in North America.

In 1909, the Club obtained a new charter without share capital, and in this the original name of the Club, “The Toronto Golf Club”, was restored. The following year, since the Fernhill property of the Club had been included in the limits of the City of Toronto, it was decided to acquire a new site.

After a thorough search the present site of the Club, on the banks of the Etobicoke River, was selected. The purchase of this property was completed early in 1911, and at the same time, the well-known English golf architect, H.S.Colt, was brought from England to design the new course. The course was ready for play in the autumn of 1912. The building of the new Clubhouse was begun in 1912, and was completed in 1913.
In the spring of 1913, the Club gave up possession of its old property, which had previously been sold on advantageous terms, and moved to its new quarters.
In 1919, it purchased additional land to the north, and on this was constructed a new nine-hole course, which was ready for play in 1921.
Most of these important changes in the life of the Club were carried out under the judicious supervision of A.H.Campbell, Vice-President of the Club from 1912 to 1915, and President from 1915 to 1920.

The Club celebrated its Centennial in 1976. A highlight of the year was the publication of a Club History, which sets out in detail, the progress of the Club from its beginning.

The Club’s 125th Anniversary was celebrated in 2001 with outstanding success and participation!
In 2012, the Club celebrated the 100th Anniversary of the Colt Course. Dr. Martin Hawtree, who completed a major renovation of the Colt Course in 2009-10, was on hand to be recognized by the members for his outstanding efforts in the renovation project.