by Joe McLean
Over the last weekend in July, the members of the Prescott Golf Club celebrated their 75th Anniversary of operation on the former site of the area known locally as “The Pines”. On the Friday evening, Club President Jim Duncan hit a ceremonial ball to start the festivities.
According to club professional Thom Miller, who had a hand in organizing the 75th Anniversary celebration and Member-Guest weekend, “The night was nice and relaxing with lots of old members in attendance and a number of stories told with plenty of laughter ensuing.” The weekend celebrations were sponsored by Riverside Prescott Buick/GMC and the Friday evening ended with a fireworks display on the driving range produced by Hands Fireworks from Brockville.
For many years, the casual playing of golf took place on the towns’ parks and farmlands. A meeting was held on Thursday, July 14, 1932 at the Isaac Bradley farm for the purpose of discussing the formation of a formal golf club. According to Club minutes, the first site in the early 1930’s for the Prescott Golf Club was Port Johnstone on the Ward Plumb property where Highland Avenue crosses McLaren Street on the west side of Prescott.
In its first year of operation, the Club had 112 members including 73 males, 33 females and 6 students each playing dues and the first elected President was J. P. Doyle. By 1935 the golf course was not only busy but also overburdened with players and the membership was already having discussions about relocating to a larger site.
The formal decision to purchase the seventy-six acre piece of land the Prescott Golf Club now occupies on the east side of town. That site was part of an apple orchard and was known locally as “The Pines”. Plans were made to overlap the building of the new course with the continuing operation of the old site until the new holes were fit for play. The new version of the Prescott Golf Club was incorporated on May 2, 1939 with M. A. Willis as President and 113 initial shares being purchased.
Many pictures still exist today showing rock picking parties and members attending to many other duties about the course in an effort to improve its quality. The members were also very creative in helping the club to remain solvent in lean years with the club staff even maintaining the grass at the nearby Fort Wellington for many years in exchange for a fee.
By 1965 the original clubhouse, which is not much more than a small shack and can be found still standing by the eighteenth tee, was ready to be replaced and club member Jack Saunders was contracted to complete the job.
The original course at “The Pines” property consisted of nine holes that were modified from time to time but remained virtually intact until 1989. At that time an additional 60 acres were purchased from the adjacent property owned by Charlie Leeder. With the help of a plan by noted Canadian golf course architect and now Ontario, Quebec and Canadian Hall of Fame member Graham Cooke and a lot of work by the staff, an additional nine holes were built and opened to great fanfare. A tree planting program started at the time has provided benefits to this day with the golf course adorned with a wide variety of pines, oaks, maples, hawthorns and apple trees.
The golf course has been tweaked through the years and it actually has a nineteenth-hole, a short par three that helps the club maintain an 18-hole layout when work is necessary on another hole. In 1993, the clubhouse was further renovated to incorporate the pro shop and club storage area in the main building and add space to the members’ lounge upstairs.
“The new nine holes not only gave the golf course a new look but also a whole new life”, according to head professional Thom Miller who had joined the Prescott Golf Club a few years prior to the course expansion. “We were immediately recognized more just because we were an eighteen-hole facility and our membership doubled and our green fees probably tripled.”
“The course is player friendly, fairly short at 6248 yards and easy to walk”, was the answer given by Mr. Miller when asked to explain the popularity of the Prescott Golf Club. He continued, “We have a very outgoing membership; they are very social and friendly to all visitors”.
The popularity of the Prescott Golf Club is evident by the membership of the club consisting of players from the town of Prescott, along the seaway, across the border into the United States and as far away as Ottawa.
The key holes on the golf course and those that need to be negotiated well for a good score are the first three holes, all par fours averaging four hundred yards that play very strong when you consider the prevailing winds of the St. Lawrence River almost every day. The closing three holes consist of a 527-yard par 5, an uphill 186-yard par three and a closing 385-yard par four. The final three holes offer a closing challenge to any level of golfer that may be difficult to match when comparisons are made to other courses. Each hole has its own challenges and the trees, wind, and sloping putting surfaces can rip the heart of a player looking to register a low score.
“Open to the public, our product is always in good shape and we always have 18 holes in play”, said Mr. Miller in a recent interview.
Eastern Ontario is blessed with many fine golf courses and each of them has a history and a story to tell. The history of the Prescott Golf Club shows how the club has adapted over time and the membership and management have, and are, working hard to make the club better all the time, making it an attractive destination for not only members but also all the visitors that are welcomed each year.
The Prescott Golf Club awaits all who want to challenge its enjoyable but tough layout or just want to discover what the secret is behind a club that has continued to get better with each passing year.
General Manager/ Superintendent
Scott St. John
Head Golf Professional
Blue – 6248
White – 5672
Ladies – 72.1/126 / Men – 66.9/115
Red – 5199
Ladies – 69.5/115 / Men – 65.0/103
Average Hole Lengths (Blue Tees)
Par 3’s – 174 yards
Par 4’s – 377 yards
Par 5’s – 535 yards
Prescott Golf Club
P.O. Box 1026
900 Boundary Street
Prescott, Ontario, K0E 1T0