(This profile appeared in the Spring Issue of Ontario Golf News, published by Flagstick Golf Magazine. August 10th marks the start of the Canadian Men’s Amateur at Weston G&CC)
Weston G&CC – Celebrating in The City
by Adam Stanley @Adam_Stanley
A quick search on Google Maps shows on one corner, there’s a Lowe’s Home Improvement. On the other, there’s a Real Canadian Superstore.
But just a few minutes away from that, and the hustle-and-bustle of Canada’s biggest city is Weston Golf and Country Club: a little oasis in the heart of Toronto. It’s a golfer’s club, celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2015.
With the excitement surrounding the 100th, Weston’s PGA of Canada professional, Colin Imrie, says there will be a few events to mark the occasion, like an opening gala, a 100th-anniversary party and a member-member event in July, but not too many so as to take away from the special milestone.
“We wanted to keep it so then the events we were going to focus on for the 100th were really going to be a big deal,” Imrie says. “We really wanted to keep it in the forefront with some selective events.”
The annual host of the Willie Park Jr. Memorial Amateur – with past winners like Moe Norman and Warren Sye – will also be hosting the Canadian Men’s Amateur Championship in August.
Park Jr., the iconic Scottish golf designer, put the finishing touches on Weston’s new 18 holes in 1920. This came five years after the original 18 holes on the west side of the Humber River in the west-end of Toronto were completed. The name “The Weston Golf Club” was already long established.
So, why Weston? A club that has been around for 100 years must be doing something right.
Imrie says its membership numbers have increased year-over-year, and the members are the best ambassadors for the club.
“The golf course is our biggest asset, and second to that, our programs, events, and leagues are great. It’s such a welcoming place to be,” Imrie says. “When new members arrive, usually they say, ‘my friend recommended that I be a member at Weston, but I had no idea the golf course was this good.’”
One of those members is TSN’s golf analyst Bob Weeks, perhaps Canada’s most recognizable golf figure.
Weeks, who was inducted into the Ontario Golf Hall of Fame in 2014, has been a golf member since 1975. He says there are a number of reasons why Weston is such a fine club, beyond the course itself.
“There’s no stuffiness to the club, it’s a friendly place, it’s open,” he explains. “It’s changed over the last 5-10 years, but it’s always been a place for good golfers. It’s a lot of fun.”
It’s not the longest course in Canada – it measures just over 6,900 yards from the back tees – but the challenge is on the greens.
“For a long time, Weston was known for having the fastest greens,” says Weeks. “I’ve brought friends out to play and you’ll see them putt off the green and they’ll scratch their head and say, ‘jeez, I thought that was an uphill putt.’”
“We could play the Canadian Amateur with everyday conditions here,” claims Imrie.
He says they might ‘dust-up’ the rough, but Golf Canada officials have confirmed the best amateurs in the country could be “trotted out to Weston” on any Saturday or Sunday morning and “the course would stand up.”
One of the programs Imrie says they are most proud of is the caddy program. Established in 2013, older members have a chance to give back to the youngsters at the club, and engage a new generation with Weston.
Juniors can’t play on Saturday or Sunday before 1 p.m., but there are a lot of “loops” to be had, according to Imrie.
“They could loop in the morning, practice for an hour, and then play,” he says. “We didn’t know how it was going to go, but we’ve satisfied the need to give back to the program with just the people who are here as members.”
Beyond Weeks, the members include Jeff O’Neill, the former Toronto Maple Leaf and current NHL on TSN analyst, and CBC’s Peter Mansbridge. They all appreciate the history of Weston, especially it being home to Arnold Palmer’s first professional victory: the 1955 Canadian Open.
Mansbridge says two things attracted him to Weston when he joined in the early 1990s.
“It’s a beautiful old-style course, and it’s rich in the history of Canadian golf,” he explains. “Whenever I walk down the 18th fairway, you try to imagine what must have been going through (Palmer’s) mind on the way to his first victory. It’s quite the feeling.”
One of the things Palmer remembered from his win: The train trestle running across the par-4 second, Weston’s signature hole.
Weeks interviewed Palmer in 1989 in Toronto. Palmer hadn’t been back to Weston since 1955, but Weeks asked him what he remembered about the course. “What was the hole with the train trestle?” asked Palmer.
A memorable feature, even for a man who, you could say, played a little golf between 1955 and 1989.
Mansbridge laughs when he says when the history of Weston gets told, it will include the Arnold Palmer story, and the tale of his first (and only) hole-in-one.
Nearly 20 years ago, Mansbridge aced the par-3 15th.
“It was a big deal. I still have the plaque prominently displayed at home,” Mansbridge says. “And I won’t forget that sound because I’ve never heard it again!
“Playing that course is just a wonderful treat,” he continues.
History, a robust membership, an iconic landmark and a fine golf course. What more could you ask for, than Weston?
General Manager & COO
Black – (Men) 6790/135/73.3
Blue – (Men) 6491/131/71.5
Blue (Ladies) 6491/145/78.2
White – (Men) 6151/1301/70.1
White – (Ladies) 6151/139/76.2
Copper – (Men) 5872/124/68.7
Copper – (Ladies) 5872/136/74.6
Green – (Men) 5023/119/64.7
Green – (Ladies) 5023/123/69.3
Average Hole Lengths (Black Tees)
Par 3’s – 178 yards
Par 4’s – 399 yards
Par 5’s – 522 yards
Weston Golf and Country Club
50 St. Phillips Road