Hope Golf Club celebrates 50th anniversary

The official opening in 1964 began with Bill Amm and Gil Jacobs cutting the ribbon on the new bridge

Bridge builders anchor the stringer cables across the Coquihalla River on the golf club bridge in May 1964.

Ernestine Franson

Contributor

Canada Day marked the 50th anniversary of the Hope Golf Club.

The official opening in 1964 began with Bill Amm and Gil Jacobs cutting the ribbon on the new bridge. Village chairman Paul Scherle drove the first ball, followed by Carl Anderson and Golf Club president Keith Hannah.

But the history of Hope’s golf course actually began several years before the opening ceremonies.

It was a long way to drive to Chilliwack from Hope to have a game of golf, but many people did it for several years. However, that changed in 1959 and 1960, when an informal group of Hope sportsmen who were tired of having to drive to Meadowlands in Chilliwack for their game of golf decided to look for reasonably priced land closer to home. They zeroed in on Crown land on the east side of town, a spectacular site nestled between Thacker Mountain, and the Coquihalla and Fraser rivers.

On Sept. 8, 1962, the Hope Golf and Country Club was officially formed under the Societies Act with a constitution and bylaws signed by R.S. Scott, pharmacist;  A. Cory, pharmacist;  K. C. Hannah, merchant;  I. F. Corbett, merchant; and J. R. Kennedy, merchant, and was witnessed by A. M. McAlpine, chartered accountant.

Irvine Corbett, the MLA for Yale-Lillooet and the new president of the club, was strongly in favour of this site for the new golf club and lobbied his good friend and hunting companion Ray Williston, Minister of Lands and Forests, for government permission. A 20-year lease was granted to the Town of Hope at no cost, to be renewed every 20 years as long as the golf club remained solvent.

Work preparing the site and building the course began almost immediately. Gordon McKay, a former greenskeeper at Chilliwack, was hired to design the layout of the course. He was aided by young engineer Bob Hasell and T. Brayshaw.

Gil Jacobs, a young engineer working for Emil Anderson Construction at the time, recalled in his history of the club:

“With the land problem solved, activity was fast and furious. The golf club would never have been built if Hope had not been a construction and logging town. Bill Amm took on the task of building the golf course with the full backing of Carl Anderson and the use of Emil Anderson Construction equipment fleet and the EAC shop. Many others provided equipment and supplies including G and F Logging, Corbetts, Roy Morrow, Henry Hockin, and many others. Firms from out of the Hope area who supplied equipment included Finning Tractor, Vancouver Equipment, and many others. All this machine work was backed by volunteer workers, material was donated and just plain hard work by all concerned made it all possible. Many Cat operators worked all week at their logging or construction jobs and then spent Saturdays and Sundays working at the golf club operating machines.”

By May of 1963, all nine fairways had been rough-cleared and the club already had 80 members. They were continuing to  recruit new members. A full page ad appeared in The Hope Standard showing photos of all the fairways. It included a request for financial support and reminded Hope residents of the economic benefits of a golf course in bringing visitors to the town.

But there was a major hurdle: easy access to the golf course. Engineers Bill Amm and Gil Jacobs, aided by many volunteers including Joe McLarty, Roy Hayashi, Norm Cosulich, and John McPhail, took on the job of designing and building a suspension bridge across the Coquihalla River.

At the annual general meeting in February 1965, president Keith Hannah noted the installation of a water system including a well, completion of power hookup with much volunteer work, and completion of the bridge.

By early 1965, the former tourist information office had been moved to the course to function as the clubhouse and pro shop and included a small camp kitchen donated by Emil Anderson.

Construction of a putting green in front of the new pro shop was under way and parking lot gravelling was completed.

By 1966, the club had 212 members and the course was ready to be rated for handicapping to allow for tournament play. Gil Jacobs became the new president; John Mulski, vice-president; Isobel Karst, secretary; and Rena Titmus, treasurer. Two-year directors were Bill White, Tom Tidball, and John Nyberg. One-year directors were Al Kelley, Reg Scott, and Dr. E. Murakami.

Lady golfers held their first meeting this year. Mrs. John Mulski was elected captain and Mrs. Ed Dyson, vice-captain.

Bill White wrote several light-hearted news items for The Hope Standard during this early period. He often ended his articles with the admonition, “Good Golfing, and keep your d . . .  head down.” Good advice, even 50 years later!

Frank Rolufs scored the first hole-in-one on No. 7 on July 13, 1966.

The fourth annual Junior Golf College for ages 12 to 21 was held in Hope in the summer of 1966. Sponsored by BC Pro Golfers Association, the college was instructed by 10 senior pros from around B.C. Nine Hope boys attended, joined by 49 others from B.C. and Washington. Hope boys were Gerry Dyson, Graham Mulski, Dale Karst, Craig Lightbody, Gordon Younie, David LaBar, Randy Rogers, Ricky Hannah, and David Robertson.

Eighty golfers attended the first annual Men’s Open Tournament (later called the Coquihalla Open) in June 1967. Jack Striker won low gross with his score of 152 in the 36-hole medal play tournament.

In his history of the course, Gil Jacobs remembers, “The Coquihalla Open became an instant success and was overbooked every year. A number of very low handicappers returned to play for many years. Two trophies were made for this event, the Bill Amm trophy for low gross and the Ed Dyson trophy for low net. Bill Amm and Ed Dyson were original directors of the Hope Golf and Country Club and died of heart attacks at far too young an age.”

Although the Hope golf course has experienced flooding to some degree on a regular basis, a major storm on Oct. 31, 1967, caused substantial flooding throughout Hope.

Ron Hannah was able to sail his little boat, Widowmaker, from Younie’s patio on 7th Avenue all the way to fairways  No. 4 and No. 5.

The course was in excellent shape, however, by the time the men’s Coquihalla Open took place. Bill Mawhinney, Meadowlands pro, with birds on four holes, set a course record with a 141 total.

In 1969, the Coquihalla Open was won by 17-year-old Langley golfer Charlie Grant with a new course record score of 139 to take the Bill Amm Memorial Trophy.

Doug Barker became the new president at the annual meeting; Colin Robertson, vice-president; Mrs. C. LaBar, secretary; Mrs. F. Tudor, treasurer. Two-year directors were Sab Yano, Don McKay, and Marvin Cope. One-year directors are Harvey Grant, Alf North, and Charles Barnes.

Over 90 golfers took part in the First Annual Autumn Leaves Tournament held in 1971.

Meanwhile, membership had grown to 300 people and it was evident that a larger clubhouse was needed. In November, 1971, plans for construction were approved at a general meeting attended by 50 people at the town hall.

Members of the building committee included Doug Barker, Carl Anderson, Reg Scott, Gil Jacobs, Aaron Davidson, Jim Mitchell, and Al North.

The clubhouse was officially opened in December 1972.

In July, 1973, Greg Mulligan won the junior tournament with a score of 82. The tournament was sponsored by the Royal Canadian Legion and Dyson’s Men’s and Boys’ Wear.

The Coquihalla Men’s Open in 1983 was won by Jerry Day of Campbell River, but it was Wendy McGregor who caught the headlines. In spite of disguising her long hair under a cap and wearing a loose shirt, she was caught after playing five holes.  She claimed it was done “all in good fun,” and not a women’s rights protest.

Massive flooding in the Coquihalla on Jan. 4, 1984, washed away the Golf Course bridge.

In April of the next year, the provincial government emergency program offered financial support to the Town of Hope to build a new one-lane suspension bridge. That bridge is officially opened in August.

Further improvements of the course continued over the years: an equipment maintenance shop, equipment and materials storage shed, parking lot paving, and riprapping of the Coquihalla River bank.

In 2007, the suspension bridge was replaced with a new steel and concrete bridge, funded by the provincial government, District of Hope, Emil Anderson Construction, and the Hope Golf Club.

In 2011, Kerry and Claudette Krahn took over as managers of the Hope Golf Course.

Past president Jim Frith has summed up Hope Golf Club’s history in a recent presentation:

“Throughout the 50 year history of the Hope Golf Club, members have volunteered countless hours of their labour and skills towards the stewardship of the land, continually making improvements and providing the district with a valuable recreation facility. Members have also donated building materials, use of construction equipment and money for capital projects.  Volunteers clean up debris following winter and wind storms. Planting flower beds, raking sand traps, rolling greens, falling dangerous trees and maintaining buildings is all done by club volunteers.

“Numerous work bees throughout the season enable us to maintain a spectacular gem for everyone’s enjoyment. The golf course has been flood damaged numerous times by the Fraser and Coquihalla rivers. Recently, each of these past three years, the course has sustained floods. Repairs and cleanup of flood damage is just one of the many tasks volunteers undertake to help keep the golf course viable.

“The club has continually re-invested all monies generated back into the maintenance and operation of the golf course. Without the generous spirit of club members volunteering there would not be a golf course for the citizens and district of Hope to speak proudly of.”