Perth Golf Course Celebrates 125 Years of Continuous Operation
The Perth Golf Club, formally the Links O’Tay Golf & Country Club, located in Perth, Ontario is the oldest golf course in Canada to remain in continuous play on the same site.
The original three-hole course was designed and put in play in 1890 by Captain A.C. Matheson on a portion of his pasture land located beside the Tay River. Those three holes are the current # 1, 8 and 9. He was inspired to build his course and promote the game of golf to “men of note” within the Town of Perth after visiting Montreal, Quebec where he was first introduced to the game.
Golf quickly gained popularity in the area and the course was soon expanded to 9 holes.
There was nothing fancy about the original Links O’Tay golf course compared to today’s well conditioned course. Golfers played with hickory-shafted clubs and gutta-percha golf balls. At each tee could be found a box of sand and a pail of water used to form a pyramid shaped sand tee. In many cases the greens could not be distinguished from the fairways or rough. The original greenkeepers were cattle and sheep and it wasn’t until the early 1920’s that the club hired “King Billy” Wilson to cut the grass on the course with a horse-drawn mower.
In 1921, the club purchased the Matheson estate for $3,000 and incorporated themselves as the Links O’Tay Golf & Country Club. $25 shares for the club were sold, realizing $40,000 in working capital. The building that once had housed the Riverside Cheese Factory was renovated and a veranda where golfers could relax in the shade and watch the finishing hole was added.
An award winning “Mammoth Cheese” promoting the town was produced in the Riverside Cheese Factory for display at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. Twelve Lanark cheese-makers each donated a day’s intake of milk to the project from an estimated 10,000 cows. The “Mammoth Cheese” weighed 22,000 pounds; stood six feet in height and 28 feet in circumference and was awarded an Exposition Diploma and Bronze Medal.
Throughout the years, members of the Perth Golf Course have always participated in local and Valley competitions and the club was a founding member of the St. Lawrence Cup team competition in 1926. There was an influx of members in 1930 from the Smiths Falls area when the Poonahmalee Golf Club ceased operation.
The Links O’Tay Golf Club operated with nine holes until another nine designed by then owner Jim Baxter was added in 2000. For a time in the 1970’s, golfers had the option of playing on the nine-hole course or the par three course laid out by club member Rusty White. Although the par three course was popular, it was allowed to grow over in the late 1970’s and replaced with the driving range in 1981.
The Perth Golf Club’s signature hole could be considered to be the 3rd hole named “O’ER THE TAY”. The hole is relatively short, measuring between 100 and 151 yards, but the challenge is hitting over the flowing Tay River to a green situated on an island in the middle of the river. Many games have suffered irreparable damage on this hole and it is rumoured that in the past the river in that location has seen its share of bare-bottomed bathers.
While cherishing its past the club has not been shy about moving into modern times, with many upgrades to the amenities.
A relatively easy walk, it measures between 5219-6699 yards in length. Much of the elevation on the course can be found on the back nine.
There is also a fully equipped pro shop and snack bar downstairs and an upstairs banquet room as part of the operation. Open to the public, the banquet room is available for all sorts of functions.
An interesting feature at the Perth Golf Club is the junior clubhouse set aside for younger players. It was provided by Pierre Hofstatter, owner of the Perth, Ontario Canadian Tire franchise. Located beside the cart storage buildings, the junior clubhouse provides space for lockers and club storage as well as tables and chairs for Perth Golf Club’s junior members.
New to the club this year is the management team provided by Thunderbird Management Services Incorporated (TMSI). A new website is in place giving the club an increase in social media presence and their on-line booking system offers best rates every day with golfers allowed to pick their tee times and price that meets their demands.
Perth Golf Club members can also avail themselves of the other TMSI managed properties at the Thunderbird Par Three golf course in Kanata and the award-winning eQuinelle Golf Club in Kemptville at discounted prices.
If you take the time to look around while you are on the golf course property dating back to its beginning, you can imagine the way golf was played in the 1890’s and onward. The four-legged greenkeepers are gone as well as the crudely made bridges connecting the golf club property to the town of Perth as well as to the island green on number 3. Golf attire is less formal now and a casual atmosphere exists today without any class distinction as practised in the early days of operation.
As a golf historian, this writer is pleased to see and play a course that has stood the test of time and is celebrating its 125th Anniversary this year. Congratulations to the members of the Perth Golf Club and the former members who created the course and fostered its growth over the past century and a quarter.
Here’s wishing the Perth Golf Club a future with continued growth in their golf programs.
Jim Baxter, Mark Beveridge, Tim Lee and Dave Trick
TMSI Management Inc
Director of Golf
PGA of Canada Professional
Gold (Men) – 6699 / 71.8 / 123
Blue (Men) – 6292 / 69.9 / 117
White (Men) – 5898 / 68.3 / 114
White (Ladies) – 5898 / 74 / 127
Red (Ladies) – 5219 / 69.9 / 118
Average Hole Lengths (Blue Tees)
Par 3’s – 163
Par 4’s – 336
Par 5’s – 535
Perth Golf Course
141 Peter Street
Perth, Ontario, K7H 3E4