History Walk – 1932 Canadian Open at the Ottawa Hunt & Golf Club

"Lighthouse" Harry Cooper (Photo: Canadian Golf Hall of Fame)
"Lighthouse" Harry Cooper (Photo: Canadian Golf Hall of Fame)
“Lighthouse” Harry Cooper (Photo: Canadian Golf Hall of Fame)

The Canadian Open has been held in Ottawa four times. The Royal Ottawa hosted in 1906 and 1911 with Royal Montreal Golf Club Professional Charles Murray winning each event. At the Rivermead Golf Club in 1920, Atlanta, Georgia Professional J. Douglas Edgar went on to win the Canadian Open in an 18-hole playoff over Royal Montreal’s Charles Murray and Edinburgh amateur T.D. Armour.

The last Canadian Open held in the Ottawa area was at the Ottawa Hunt & Golf Club in 1932. Harry (Lighthouse) Cooper from Chicago, Illinois was the winner with a score of 290, followed by Birmingham, Michigan’s Al Waltrous at 293 and Detroit, Michigan’s Walter Hagen with 295. Andy Kay from the Lambton Golf Club in Toronto was the low Canadian with his score of 298.

Excerpts from an article in the July, 1932 issue of Canadian Golfer Magazine best tells the story of the championship event.

“The 24th annual Open Championship of Canada which was held at the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club July 7th, 8th and 9th, was as usual an outstanding and brilliant event.

The Capital has not had the honour of staging an Open Championship for twelve years, in 1920 the event having last been held there at the Rivermead Club. The Hunt Club has never before played host to the contestants in a major championship but this month its officers and members demonstrated that they have the course, a Willie Park creation, they have the clubhouse and they have the will and the hospitality to make such an important event an unqualified success in every particular. In future ‘The Hunt’ must be included amongst the worth-while championship layouts of Canada.

The greens were in superb condition and notwithstanding ugly rumours which were circulated a week or so before the Championship the fairways, too, were in excellent shape. The Club recently installed a fairway watering system and a generous sprinkling of the course between every tee and green resulted in the turf being in first class condition for both wood and iron shots. All the leading contestants were quite enthusiastic about the 6,770-yard tree and shrub-girted course and predicted a brilliant future for it when it is still further whipped into shape – and the Hunt Club officials can be depended upon to continue in their well doing.”

The most interesting part of this story on the 1932 Canadian Open is that the winner was not around at the event to collect his trophy. Mr. Cooper had played in the first group and even though he was advised that he was the likely winner, he changed his clothes and along with his wife hailed a taxi to Union Station where they caught a fast train to Chicago for an exhibition the following day.

Before he left the grounds he gave a brief interview and was quoted in an Ottawa Citizen column on Monday, June 11th by Eddie O’Meara.

“I enjoyed every minute of the tournament and I want to tell you that this is a mighty fine course. The spectators behaved splendidly, and the whole tournament was a credit to the Ottawa Hunt Club and the officials of the Royal Canadian Golf Association.”

After 84 years, you have to wonder – Will the Canadian Open ever return to the Ottawa Hunt & Golf Club or the Ottawa area?

/ Joe McLean