Thursday, April 25, 2013

Islington Golf Club turns 90

As posted by the Etobicoke Guardian, April 25, 2013.
By Tamara Shephard

Its location is a mystery to many.

But its members would like its secret to become better known.

Islington Golf Club celebrates its 90th anniversary this Sunday with an open house from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Riverbank Drive club tucked off Islington Avenue just north of Dundas Street West. Tour the facility, meet staff and members, sample the club’s cuisine and join a complimentary spring swing clinic by club pro Phil Kavanagh.

A draw will award one attendee a year’s trial membership valued at $5,000.

Tracing the Mimico Creek, the 18-hole, par 72 championship course retains many of world renowned golf course architect Stanley Thompson’s original elements, a challenge for even the most experienced golfer with water hazards in play on 12 of the 18 holes, Dave Fox, general manager said.

“There are a lot of little nuances that make it interesting each time you play it. It’s challenging,” Fox said. “The green surrounds and the putting surfaces can make it difficult even for the most experienced golfer.”

Its 585 members appreciate the absence of a tee time on the course, Fox said, which is a 30 minutes’ drive from downtown Toronto.

Its club house was renovated in 2011. A year earlier, the club partnered with Golf Canada to host a practice facility for the 2010 RBC Canadian Open, played at St. George’s Golf and Country Club.

In 2009, 60-year plus member John Tyers and Toronto police’s 22 Division launched the then-newest chapter of the National Junior Golf Academy with founder Kingsley Rowe for 16 youth from the Mabelle highrise neighbourhood around Islington and Dundas.

The free, six-week program taught kids every Thursday night at Islington Junior Middle School and at Driftwood Community Centre the fundamentals of golf and its discipline, including honesty, integrity, respect for self and others, punctuality, decorum and sportsmanship.

“It elevates their lives, exposes them to a different lifestyle, something they can strive for, and gives them goals. It works,” Tyers said at the time.

A celebrity classic golf tournament every May teams former athletes, Olympians, singers and actors with members in foursomes with funds raised donated to Sleeping Children Around the World.

The charity founded by the late Murray Dryden, father of NHL stars Ken and Dave, has provided more than one million bedkits consisting of a mat or mattress, pillow, blanket, mosquito net, outfit of clothing and school supplies to children in 33 countries since its inception in 1970.

Last year, the club launched a limited time, one-year trial membership for $5,000, which returns this spring.

“I think more clubs are going that route. It’s an opportunity for someone to kick the tires and test drive it for a year,” Fox said.

“The membership committee feels by engaging people in the environment and atmosphere of the club, an understanding of the dynamics of the club and the lifestyle, they’ll fall in love with the place...There are a lot of public golf courses where you can play if you just want to play golf. But a lot of social networks tend to form at the club; there are a lot of events. It’s a home away from home. Everyone is friendly and familiar with one another.”

Doug Eaton joined Islington Golf Club as a caddy at age nine in 1969. He joined as a junior member in 1972 and has played the course ever since.

Eaton’s father, John and mother Shirley both played, as did the couple’s four children. In fact, Shirley and daughter, Cathy, are the club’s only mother-daughter club champions, Eaton said.

“Some of my lifelong friends are people I’ve known there since I was little kid,” Eaton said. “The great thing about being a member of a club like Islington is the people you meet and the lifelong friendships. Some people I’ve ended up doing business with.”

Eaton calls the club “an oasis” and marvels that more people don’t know where it is.

“It’s such a great spot. People don’t know where it is and that’s what shocks me the most. The only major artery where you can see it is Kipling north of Burnhamthorpe where you can see the 15th hole. It’s so secluded,” Eaton said.

“People need to know about this amazing place. It’s an oasis in the city. It’s close to the airport, close to downtown. You can go for dinner. It has the most incredible patio and a world-class fabulous golf course.”

People interested in attending this weekend’s 90th anniversary celebration, are asked to RSVP online at


Islington Golf Club celebrates its 90th anniversary with an open house this Sunday from 1-3 p.m.

The Stanley Thompson-designed 18-hole, par 72 championship course has a storied history, including:

* 1913: the club was the vision of entrepreneurs Col. Bill Rogers, E.H.A. Watson, Riverdale Collegiate principal and local realtor Mr. Chadwick.

* 1923: IGC officially established

* 1928: Millar Cup established and became the premier professional match play tournament in Canada for four decades

* 1954: Hurricane Hazel caused significant damage as members pitched in to clean up

* 2010: IGC partnered with Golf Canada to host a practice facility for the 2010 RBC Canadian Open