This article commences with a quote from the December 1926 issue of the “Canadian Golfer Magazine. It then traces Charlie’s roots and his amazing, short golf career.
“Charlie is the son of Mr. Ernest S. McCadden, Manager of the Langara Golf Links, who will be remembered by Torontonians some twenty years ago as a valued member of the Rosedale Golf Club. Charlie’s grandfather was one of the first to take up golf in Ireland, so he comes naturally by his aptitude to play the ‘game of games’ . His future golfing career will be watched with interest.”
Charlie’s father, Ernest (Ernie) Schomberg McCadden, was born on July 3rd, 1881 in Belfast, Ireland. His grandfather, Charles and his grandmother, Belinda, owned an inn in Belfast. Although the Irish records are sparse for the period 1840 – 1900 it appears Ernest had at least four brothers and one sister. Several McCaddens from Belfast served in the Boer War. Specifically Ernie served from 1899 – 1902.
The Canadian Golfer Magazine is correct Charles McCadden is listed as an early member of the Royal Belfast Golf Club, the oldest continuous golf club in Ireland. According to Belfast newspapers, the father and son played regularly at the Belfast club. This probably explains why Ernie who left Londonderry, Northern Ireland on July 13th, 1906 arrived in Toronto as an accomplished single digit handicap golfer. According to the Rosedale GC history, Ernest McCadden participated in the moving of the course in 1907.
In 1909, Ernie arrived in Vancouver and immediately joined the Shaughnessy Heights GC. Within months, he lowered the course record to 71. News reports show Ernie playing well at Shaughnessy with a handicap varying from six to nine. The first newspaper golf reference to son, Charlie, appeared when Charlie was eleven. “Young Charlie McCadden, who caddied for his father, brought home two winners in one day – for in the morning he carried the clubs of Jack Burns when that lad won the city caddie championship.” Later that year on September 2nd, 1923, eleven-year-old Charlie participated in his first official tournament finishing second in the Shaughnessy junior club championship shooting 88 less 16 for a net 72. During the 1925 summer, Ernie and Charlie moved to Marine Drive. Immediately Ernie lowered the course record to 72. Thirteen year old, nine handicap Charlie won the Junior Club Championship and the Trayling and Walters Medal in the putting contest. He shot rounds of 77, 75, and 76 to win by 37 strokes.
Just prior to the opening of the new 18 hole Langara Golf Links, the CPR appointed Ernest McCadden as their first Secretary/Manager. Charlie changed his club affiliation to the Glen Oaks GC. He remained a member until his departure to Calgary in 1940.
The 1926 Vancouver City Amateur at Point Grey.
“Charlie McCadden created the surprise of the day by finishing a bang-up fifth in a tie with William and Bob Bone, the BC Amateur Champion. In turning in his card of 154, Charlie, who has been coming along more rapidly than any of the younger set beat such well=known players as Harry Jones, former BC Amateur Champion, N.J. Smillie, former city champion, Peter Trail and Freddy Wood. With another years practice, McCadden should make his mark in city and provincial events.”
The December 10, 1926 Walter Hagen Exhibition at Langara
Playing steady golf the two youngsters Roy Herne, the Hastings Park pro, and Charlie defeated Nat Cornfoot, the Langara professional and Walter Hagen, the regaining US Open Champion. 2 and 1. The crowd displayed their displeasure with Hagen after the match.
“In golf it is always considered the essence of good sportsmanship – professional or amateur- for the contestants to shake hands at the conclusion of the match. Walter Hagen, three time US Open Champion and PGA champion, lost to the youngsters Roy Herne and Charlie McCadden out at Langara. When 14 year old Charlie sank the wining putt on the seventeenth green, there was not the slightest sign of a congratulatory smile much less a handshake on the part of Hagen. It was not in his contract, of course, to congratulate his master on that day.”
Charlie’s Amazing Golf Summer
Starting the 1927 golf season, Charlie lowered his handicap to 4. He commenced with a win in the initial Glen Oaks men’s opening day event shooting 79. In June he became a national star when he won the Vancouver City Amateur at Shaughnessy. Many of the competitors did not express much surprise. After the 1926 event the local golf experts predicted he would win very soon.
“The youngster really cinched the title in the morning, when he played in sensational style to score 72, par for the course, which equaled the amateur course record held by his father. He was three under par out and three over par in. Charlie played like a veteran throughout the day. The slim little figure moved from hole to hole like a machine. His shots were crisp and straight, but it was in his chip shots to the green where he shone. He ran the ball up close to the hole for one putt or an easy two putts. He had his putter working to perfection.”
Charlie’s short game would be his trademark throughout his short career. In winning the championship Charlie returned to the course where he had learned to play golf. At age nine he began caddying for his Dad Ernie. Ernie taught him the basics then he just practiced and caddied for the prominent members of the club. Like most caddies of this generation, he learned by copying the local masters of the game. Monty Hill, former BC Amateur Champion and City Champion claimed; “There was no better player in the world from 50 yards in than Charlie McCadden.”
As the summer progressed young Charlie continued his course record setting pace. In July he lowered the Langara course record to 73 and the following week he lowered the Jericho course record to 72. He followed the morning round with an afternoon score of 73. His one day 36 hole total of 72 – 73 145 lowered the 36-hole record. “The previous best score for 36 holes registered at Jericho having been made by Neil Christian, an American pro who held the Pacific Northwest title, in the 1926 BC Open. Even the best stars in the northwest did not score close to this number in the medal round for the 1926 BC Men’s Amateur at Jericho.” Charlie closed the season winning the Glen Oaks men’s club championship.
“Charlie is entering into the golfing game and with proper coaching should develop into one of Canada’s leading amateurs. His showing this past summer entitles him to rank as one of the best juniors in the west.”
In the 1928 golf season Charlie again showed his prowess to the national golfing body. In the 1928 BC Men’s Amateur at Marine Drive, he qualified easily for the championship flight. In the first round he pulled off the biggest upset of the event defeating the 1927 Dick Moore 1 up. He easily defeated Richmond in the 2nd round 6&5. In the third he comfortably defeated a Seattle star Alex Duncan 3&2. “In the semi’s he appeared to be on track to defeat the Olympia WA star twenty year old Tom McHugh. (McHugh later became a prominent California star winning the California Amateur). At the 16th Charlie was in total control of his match against his brilliant opponent, Tommy McHugh, and it looked as though he would advance to the final easily. But he lost the 17th and hooked his tee shot out of bounds on the 18th enabling the ultimate BC amateur Champion to squeeze out a lucky win by 1 up.”
Even though Charlie won the Men’s City Amateur at age fifteen, the City Junior title evaded him. In July 1929 he completed the city double winning the junior championship by four strokes better than Alex Powell.
Playing in the McMullen Cup competition at Glen Oaks, Charlie lowered the Langara course record to par 72 shooting birdies on the fourth, seventh, and twelfth holes. Bill Barr, the Glen Oaks professional held the pro record at 70.
Charlie’s Career is basically over.
In 1929 Charlie entered UBC in the Business Administration Faculty. Using newspaper accounts to track his career, he played very little golf. He joined the UBC golf team for a couple of inter club matches against other northwest universities. He played periodically in the City Amateur over the next four years. In October 1929 he slipped out of his lectures to play a quick round with professional Nat Cornfoot. He scored his first career ace on the 115 yard fifth hole. “McCadden, who is now attending UBC and consequently has not as much time for golf as in former years, “
In 1933 Charlie managed to find the old magic by winning the Glen Oaks Men’s Club Championship. Research implies this was Charlie’s last championship. In an inter-club match with Everett G&CC, Charlie lowered the hillside course record to 68.
In 1934, he graduated from UBC with a Bachelor in Business Administration. He worked for the Standard Oil Company in Vancouver until 1940, and then moved to Calgary working as a federal tax auditor.
It is unclear when he joined the Earl Grey GC. But the Calgary Herald reported he reached the club championship final in 1965 and 1966 losing both times.
We will never know why Charlie appears to have lost the flame to progress through the ranks to become one of Canada’s premier amateur golfers like his compatriots Ken Black and Freddy Wood. The family indicate his father, Ernie, wanted him to become a golf professional like the great Walter Hagen. In a 1944 interview, Charlie’s father praised his son; “Charlie was a kid wonder. Speaking with great pardonable pride he said: My son won the city championship when he was only 15. When young Charlie won the City at Shaughnessy, he and a bunch of his pals came back here (Langara) and brought a gramophone. I gave him $50 for winning. He was pretty happy. They danced and sang here in this room until the early Sunday morning golfers arrived.”
Charlie McCadden died on June 18th, 1996.