In the early 1920’s as the British Columbia economy flourished, the citizens had more disposable income to spend. Many began to purchase automobiles enabling them to travel throughout the province. To accommodate the travelling public auto parks appeared in many small villages. To encourage the travellers to remain in their village one more night enterprising citizens encouraged their village to construct a golf course. “We wish to encourage tourists to remain in our town for one more day so they could enjoy our beautiful golf course.”
In 1922 a group gathered to investigate the possibility of introducing golf to Kaslo. Led by James Anderson, the mayor, and Frank Rouleau, the editor of the Kootenian with encouragement from members of the Nelson Golf & Country Club, a small group decided to proceed with the idea. Publisher Rouleau, and John Bunyan, a Nelson customs agent, pointed out the benefits a golf course would be to the City of Kaslo. The Kaslo group quickly laid out a rudimentary course. ” Golf enthusiasts are spending much time practicing on the lake shore these days and it is quite possible that when the Kaslo GC links are ready for use there will be some stars in the new club” Nelson Daily Times April 6, 1922. Research indicates this rudimentary course existed until the new Kaslo course opened in 1924.
The golf addicts approached the city for permission to construct a nine-hole golf course on 20 acres of benchland on the south side of the Kaslo River. Because the land formed part of the park reserve, the City needed to pass a formal bylaw granting permission to use the land to the golfing enthusiasts. City Council drafted Bylaw 198 “for permission to grant a 10 year lease to the golf group”. Bylaw 198 passed on October 1, 1923 but was backdated to December 31, 1922. “The lease extended for ten years, rent $1 per year with an option to purchase for $1250.”
Simultaneously the golfers formed the Kaslo Golf Club Ltd. The organizers hoped to sell 250 shares at $100 each to finance the endeavour. By Sept 7, 1922 70 subscribers had joined the company. With growing confidence the Bylaw would eventually pass, the Directors employed Mr. William Dunn, the superintendent of Burns and Sons in Nelson, to survey the fairways. Perhaps he had Scottish roots. Edward Latham, an employee of the King Edward Hotel in Kaslo, supervised the construction. Even though no lease existed for the property the organizers commenced clearing in July 1923. When work ceased in November 1923 workers had completed 5 fairways and partially prepared 4 more. “Work has been completed for the year on the Kaslo course. Robert McBride, the local manger for the Wood Valance Hardware Store in Nelson, voiced high praise for the course at Kaslo. (A prominent golfer from the Nelson G&CC.) The fairways are cut right through the small trees. Five holes have been ploughed, harrowed, and seeded for a total distance of 1600 yards. Another four fairways have been cut, slashed, and burned. The new course is only a 10 minute walk from town and situated on a bench about 200 feet higher with a remarkable fine view of the main lake. McBride believes the course is very much like the famous Burquitlam course at the coast. Credit must be given to the local golfer John G. Bunyan the local golfer who two years ago pointed out the great opportunities afforded Kaslo for the construction of a golf course.” Nelson Daily News October 26, 1923.
When construction recommenced in March 1924 the Board ordered a fence around the property. Because the success of the venture depended largely on the quality of the fairways and greens “the club installed a watering system.” The course officially opened on July 9th, 1924. Club President James Anderson presented an overview of the scope of the project to the fifty guests. He outlined how “the growth of the club from a mere idea in the minds of a few citizens to the present well laid out course and the clubhouse with every convenience. He pointed out the undertaking, reviewing the magnitude of the work and the high cost to the original shareholders. He outlined the work still to be done before the course could be considered complete.” Nelson Daily News July 16, 1924. Mrs James Anderson drove the first ball. “Dues $15 for men and $10 for ladies. A green fee for visitors was $1 per day”
On October 24, 1924 using five playable fairways, the Kaslo Golf Club conducted its first official tournament. Twenty members participated. A large black bear followed the golfers during the four day tournament. The winners of the three events included: men’s singles J. Kent; women’s singles Mrs James Anderson, and doubles J Kent and Mrs. Anderson. (Notice the correlation with the tennis terminology.)
On June 12, 1925 Bob Smith, BC and Calgary professional golfer, recorded the first hole-in-one for the new course. In August 1925 Col HH Armstead, an American mining engineer with claims near Kaslo, donated “two handsome sterling silver trophies – 18 hole match play for men and 9 hole match play for women. First winners included – Mr. E.H. Latham and Mrs. J Hamilton. In September 1925 the members could enjoy a full regulation nine-hole golf course. In April 1926 James Anderson, the club’s guiding light, donated a trophy for annual competition between the Kaslo, Trail, and Nelson golf clubs. For many years this event opened the golfing season at Kaslo.
In 1928 Kaslo joined the Nelson and Trail golf clubs to form the West Kootenay Men’s Golf Association. Similarly in 1933 the women of these clubs united to form the West Kootenay Ladies Golf Association. In October 1928 when the neighbouring Holmes Orchard comprising 7.4 acres appeared on the market as a tax sale the club quickly purchased the additional property to expand the length of the holes.
When the West Kootenay golf clubs began holding local tournament in their town like the Nelson Open, the Slocan Open at New Denver, the Trail Open, and the Wood Valance Open at Kimberley, the Kaslo Golf Club began holding the Rainbow Cup competition in 1948. This event still exists today.
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