A gentle ocean breeze cooperated with the organizers of the Victoria Golf Club’s 125th Anniversary gala on Saturday evening (July 14) and, although the club’s resident ghost was almost certainly in attendance, she observed a respectful distance and allowed the event to go off without a hitch.
“We had just over 650 people in attendance, which was nearly double the capacity of our indoor facilities. So we planned it to be held in this lovely tent on the driving range,” explained Scott Kolb, the club’s general manager.
“All in all, the evening couldn’t have been better.”
The event included a scrumptious meal prepared by the Club Executive Chef, Cameron Ballendine, aided by a cadre of 14 other chefs brought in for the occasion.
“It was quite an undertaking, but the meal was outstanding,” said Kolb.
The evening proceeded with dancing under the stars (or at least the tent that was under the stars) first to the stylings of the Al Pease Band, and then to the strains of The Midnights, a live 12 piece R&B combo consisting of some of Canada’s finest professional musicians.
“Even though we had to shut things down at 11 p.m. out of consideration for the neighbours, the event was amazing. People had an incredible meal, met old friends and made new ones, and danced the evening away. I’m not sure how it could have been better,” said Kolb.
The Victoria Golf Course was founded in 1893 and is the oldest 18-hole golf course in Canada in its original location and the second oldest in North America. It had rather humble beginnings, starting as a 14-hole course played on rough grazing land belonging to Joseph Despard Pemberton, the former Colonial Engineer and Surveyor of the colony. They weren’t allowed to play during summer months when the land was used for cattle. But eventually, they were granted a lease and formed the Victoria Golf Club.
When they outgrew their original clubhouse, a new building was constructed and opened to much fanfare in 1927, only to burn to the ground on the opening weekend.
The current clubhouse was a reconstruction of its ill-fated predecessor and has stood to this day.
The club has a remarkably star studded history as well.
For more than a century, famous names have graced the course, including golfing greats Harry Vardon, Chick Evans, Byron Nelson, Joyce Wethered, Ben Hogan, Al Geiberger, Pat Bradley, George Knudson, Sam Snead, Dawn Coe-Jones and Johnny Miller, to name a few.
Numerous celebrities such as Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Wayne Gretzky, Pamela Anderson, Kiefer Sutherland and, most recently, Alice Cooper have also been drawn to the scenic seaside links throughout the years, not only to play but also to support charitable causes.
The club plays host to the Seattle GC inter-club tournament, the oldest international golf tournament in North America, and, for more than 80 years, has been home to the Seniors North West Championship.
With a pedigree that rich, it’s small wonder the Club is celebrating its 125th year, and those celebrations will continue when they host a high tea in the middle of August and, later in August, when they play host to the Canadian mid-amateur Championships.
“This is a great year for a great golf club and the 1,100 members are very proud of our history and excited about our future,” said Kolb.