The Briars Golf Club that opened in 1922 was designed by the renowned designer Stanley Thompson. The Briars Golf Club proudly takes our place in golf history along with any legendary courses that came to life under his creative direction.
For more information on Mr. Stanley Thompson and his work, Click here
The Depression environment of the 1930's may have inflicted hardship on many Canadians, but the Briars Golf Club community weathered the storm quite nicely. The Club entered into a more formal arrangement with J.D. Sibbald just before the War, which resulted in a perpetual lease on the land which then contained our original nine holes. Our facilities consisted of the original clubhouse (now the Briars Teahouse) and a 600 square foot Caddie and Pro Shop.
Membership: Almost the entire membership was made up of cottagers with perhaps six or eight local Sutton residents. The by-laws restricted membership to those with residences within 25 road miles of the Club. There was no Briars Resort until 1942. The annual fee structure in the 30's was around $35 for seniors, $10 for nominees, and $5 for juniors. Green fees were around $1 per round. There was no initiation fee to join the Club. This came into being in the late 1960's; shares sold for $25.
Golf: I.F. (Dal) Dalgleish, brought in from Edinburgh, Scotland, was the Club Professional from the early 1920's until his retirement around 1965. He ran everything with help, usually from one of the junior members, to clean clubs and mind the shop. Dal was a good teacher and developed many excellent golfers who went on to fame elsewhere. He ran the shop…gave lessons…booked green fees…sold merchandise…repaired clubs…was both Club Secretary and Treasurer, kept books and paid bills. He worked a seven day week, 12-14 hours a day, ran the Saturday night dances and handled the administration of the annual meeting. He is an important part of our history.
The course itself was a great challenge from the outset, and many Club competitions were conducted. Except for the ladies and those on holidays, almost all play was on Saturdays and Sundays. Starting times weren't required and all available playing hours were used to advantage. There was no parking in the pro shop area - that was the caddie compound. Cars were parked behind the clubhouse. Many golf aficionados considered the Briars the best nine-hole course in Ontario.
Greens: During the 1930's, 40's and 50's, the course was maintained by a Head Greenskeeper and three or four men. Staff had a tractor with a set of good mowers to do fairways, tees and aprons. Two greensmowers (weighing about 150 pounds each) took two men almost a full day to mow nine greens. This occurred every two or three days. The rough was cut with scythes - once each in June, July and August. A team of horses pulled a cart where the raked up hay was deposited. A workday/night was long and hard because all watering of greens was done manually in the evenings.
House: The original clubhouse (now used by Briars Resort guests) was built in 1926 and was the hub of many club activities. Saturday night dances were held on ten Summer weekends to live bands. The dances included a midnight supper of scrambled eggs and bacon. Standard Time was used to end the dances at 1:00 a.m., but quite often Ev and Paul Higgins would have the band back to their cottage for more fun and games. Juniors had Wednesday night dances. Masquerade nights…children's days…ladies golf luncheons…inter-club events, etc. all made for a busy social schedule. The Jackson's Point Yacht Club sailed every Saturday and their members often joined golf club members at Saturday dances. The clubhouse was repainted in 1936 for a total cost of $50, including paint. Stanley St. John's eight-piece band came from Toronto every Saturday night for a cost of $50 per night. Ah…those were the days!
Financial: Over the years, much money has been saved as a result of the voluntary efforts of the membership. The Club was never very strong financially in its first thirty years, but it didn't need to be - thanks to the efforts of individual members. It is interesting to note that over the years numerous bank loans with the Bank of Nova Scotia in Sutton were secured by providing a list of twenty or twenty five prominent members of the Club. Except for a cart loan in 1991, no assets have ever been pledged against a loan, and typical of our membership support, two voluntary debenture issues were underwritten in 1977 and 1991 by a group of our members to assist in vital club financing.
In 1976-77 the club was operating with a working capital deficiency of $56,000. Nobody much worried about this technical bankruptcy. The Board and members trimmed their sails and worked their way out of it. The present financial well being of the club would boggle the minds of our founders.
General: The clubhouse has gone through three renovations, two of which were financed in part by voluntary membership debentures. The course enlargement from nine to eighteen holes in 1972 was obviously the most significant event in the history of the club. The anonymous contribution of $150,000 towards this project will forever be appreciated. At the time, this was a tremendous sum of money by anyone's standards. The four club Secretaries prior to 1990 worked in a different fashion - everything in those days was done manually. Membership mix and growth occurred as the club evolved.
Personalities are what make any social organization. Now at the Briars there are a large number of members who have come from communities outside of Georgina. This has brought new strengths to the club and to the Board of Directors. Hopefully the best traditions of the club will be perpetuated by all who follow in the footsteps of those who have contributed so much over the years.