Please click on one of the following links to read Mississaugua's Golf History:
1965 Canadian Open Footage
J. P. Bickell
Golf Course Architects
In the autumn of 1905, a surrey made its way down Springfield Road (renamed Mississauga Road a few years later) from the Dundas Highway. The narrow dirt road twisted south following the path of the Credit River. The trip had a purpose. The Highlands Golf Club, situated south of Dundas Street, west of Jane Street in Toronto West was closing at the end of the season. It had been established in 1901, but was the victim of encroaching development. A group of enthusiastic golfers was determined to find a country location well outside the city for a new club.
John E. Hall was accompanied by fellow Highlands Golf Club members Charles Pringle and H.P. Richey. The day was warm and the road was dusty. When the men spotted a couple of fruit trees, they halted the surrey to pick some apples. On impulse, Hall jumped a low fence and strode across a broad meadow.
He gazed in astonishment at the beautiful scene down the valley and then turned to his friends and shouted, "We've found it!" "Found what?" they shouted back. "Why, our golf course, of course," was his response. Hall returned to the surrey and, impulsively pulling a club from his bag, picked up a ball and went back to the top of the hill. He teed up, swung his brassie, and drove the ball far into the valley below. It is probably the most important golf shot every made at Mississaugua. It is certainly the most symbolic.
Since that time the links at Mississaugua Golf and Country Club have tested the skills of many of the world's finest golfers, hosted numerous provincial, national and international matches including six Canadian Open Championships and the Club has name a name for itself as one of Canada's premier country clubs.
Percy Barrett (Head Professional at Lambton Golf Club) laid out the original 9 hole course in 1906. George Cumming, the highly respected head professional at Toronto Golf Club and host pro Willie F. Lock, expanded the course to 18 holes in 1909. The new course was first tested in a significant championship when in 1912 Charlie Murray of Royal Montreal Golf Club won the first-ever Canadian PGA club pro championship.
In 1919 famed American golf course architect Donald Ross toured Mississaugua and made several recommendations maily with regard to bunkering and adding length. Those changes were carried out in 1919 and 1920 as the course was lengthened to about 6,000 yards. The Club hosted the 1924 Canadian Women's Closed Championship, won by Vera Ramsey Hutchings of Winnipeg. Stanley Thompson toughened it up considerably by adding more length to the course in 1928 extending it to about 6,500 yards for play in 1929.
Mississaugua hosted its first Canadian Open Championship in 1931. With the entire British Ryder Cup team on hand American Walter Hagen prevailed in a 36-hole Tuesday playoff over Peter Allis. At the time, "The Haig" was the most decorated player in golf with 11 major titles. In 1938, "Slamming Sammy" Snead won his first of three Canadian Opens (1940 & 1941) in what turned out to be a 27-hole playoff over "Light Horse" Harry Cooper, a two-time Canadian Open Winner. Three years later the pros were back as Ben Hogan opened with a course record of 65, but it was 1941 Masters and US Open Champion Craig Wood who prevailed to win the 1942 Canadian Open. In 1951, Jim Ferrier of Australia, who won the 1950 Open at Royal Montreal Golf Club, made it two in a row with a two-stroke victory.
The greatest field ever assembled for a Canadian golf tournament teed it up at the 1965 Open with Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus headlining the $100,000 event. The purse had been doubled from the previous year and the stars didn't disappoint. Starting the final round Bruce Devlin held a two stroke lead over Palmer, Nicklaus and Gene Littler. Palmer and Devlin faded quickly while an early Nicklaus charge gave him the lead heading to the twelfth "The Big Chief." Nicklaus drove his tee shot nearly 300 yards off the tee leaving 240 to the pin. Instead of laying up, he decided to go for the green and take command of the tournament. His heroic effort came up just short and bounded back into the creek. It took Nicklaus 4 more strokes to finish the hole while Littler carded a birdie. That's all Littler needed as he edged Nicklaus by a single stroke. In 1974, Nicklaus was back, but he again struggled with "The Big Chief" in the final round and faded as Bobby Nichols took home the crown.
In 2001 Mississaugua hosted the AT&T Senior Open, a former Champions Tour event, won by Walter Hall over Ed Dougherty in a single-hole playoff. As part of their centennial celebrations Mississaugua hosted a major tournament in 2006. Top amateurs from across the country and around the world gathered to compete in the Canadian Amateur Championship. Richard Scott won his 3rd title while Alberta successfully defended their Willingdon Cup Trophy.
Host to Golf's Greatest Legends...
and many more...
1931 Canadian Open
Winner: Walter Hagen
Tradition and "bluelaws" prohibited Sunday play so the 1931 Canadian Open was played over three days with 36 holes played on the Saturday. Walter Hagen won the Open in a 36-hole playoff against Percy Allis. Some say the game was won and lost on the 15th when Hagen's ball, headed for the river, bounced off a flat stone and back on to the fairway. Allis, who seemed in need of a break, never quite recovered.
1938 Canadian Open
Winner: Sam Snead
Sam Snead won his first of three Canadian Opens (1940, 1941) against "Lighthorse" Harry Cooper in an extra nine-hole playoff.
The win wasn't easy, though. In the final round, Cooper took a two-stroke penalty by hitting his ball out of bounds on the last hole, giving Snead a tie.
In the Monday playoff, both shot 67s which forced the extra playoff round won by Snead by a five stroke margin. Click to Enlarge
In 1965, at the age of 52 Sam Snead won the Greater Greensboro Open to become the oldest winner of a PGA Tour event. In 1974, Snead tied for third in the PGA Championship. In 1979, Snead became the first player in PGA Tour history to shoot, then better, his age with rounds of 67 and 66 at the Quad Cities Open.
Sam competed til the mid-1980's although he still played for pleasure for many years. Sam Snead died in 2002.
1942 Canadian Open
Winner: Craig Wood
With a four shot lead over Mike Turnesa and a total score of 275, Craig Wood became the first player ever to win the Canadian and U.S. Opens in the same year (Lee Trevino did it in 1971).
Gordie Brydson was the top Canadian professional at 289.
1951 Canadian Open
Winner: Jim Ferrier
Jim Ferrier, of Australia, won his second consecutive Canadian Open, seen here on the par 4 15th hole. Click to Enlarge Jim FerrierHe was one of only three players to win back-to-back titles. J. Douglas Edgar was the first in 1919 and 1920. Leo Diegel did it in 1924 and 1925.
Jim Ferrier's loyal wife followed him all day, every day, aided by a sit stick- and knitting constantly. Observers wondered if the click of her knitting needles disturbed the players when they were putting-but it clearly didn't bother her husband. Jim Ferrier won the Open, The Seagram Gold Cup and a cheque for $2,250. The total purse was $15,000.
Chairman Josh Atkinson and vice-chairman Eddie Black brought a mobile home to the Club for committee headquarters...and then lived in it for the Click to Enlargeentire week.
It rained for three days, turning the practice field (which was being used as a parking lot) into a mud hole. The cars sank up to their hub caps, and winches were used far into the night.
1965 Canadian Open
Winner: Gene Littler
Gene Littler, Las Vegas pro, shot 4 under par despite this bad lie,
and won the Open and the Seagram Gold Cup. First prize was $20,000!
Gene Littler's Bad lie!
Winner Gene Littler Putting
Gene Littler - Trophy
It was written that the stage was set for the extravaganzas of the 1970s and 1980s when Mississaugua hosted the 1965 Canadian Open. Prize money was doubled to $100,000 which attracted many of the world's top players. Richard (Dick) Grimm ran the show which could not have been orchestrated any better.
Click to EnlargeIn the final round, Jack Nicklaus challenged "The Big Chief" 12th hole by trying to reach the perilous, elevated green in two.
However, the wind caught his ball which fell short and rolled down the bank into the river edge. It cost Nicklaus a bogey six and the title with Gene Littler edging the great Jack Nicklaus by 1 stroke.
Ernie Nerlich, a forty-five year old Richmond Hill professional, set a record for the worst score on a single hole in the Canadian Open when he took fourteen strokes on the eighteenth hole. The disaster took place before a gallery that was first astounded, then unbelieving and finally hysterical. His ball hid in the ravine. Bad lie !
On another shot it bounced off a tree. On another it hit a spectator's chest. Nerlich said that the best lie he had (second to the tee shot) was on top of a tree stump.
Please watch the footage from the 1965 Open Below:
1974 Canadian Open
Winner: Bobby Nichols
Unfortunately, for both players, Bobby Nichols had four days of solid play and with 68 in both the third and fourth rounds, he took home the $40,000. first prize from the $200,000 purse.
There were a handful of extraordinary internationally known women golfers during the twenties, and Ada Mackenzie ranked among the top half dozen. She was certainly the most talented Canadian woman golfer.
The young Havergal student was adept in all sports, due in part to the emphasis both Bishop Strachan and Havergal placed on sports seventy-five years ago.
For a time she also was a golfing member of the Toronto Golf Club, winning that club's ladies' championship in 1914, 1916, 1921, 1923, and 1924.
Ada Mackenzie learned to golf by hitting a ball from the seventeenth tee when she was very young. Her parents, members of the Club, had the Board's permission to pitch a tent on the Club's grounds in the summer, near the seventeenth tee.
Ada Mackenzie 1926
She had nerves of steel. In 1919 she won the Canadian National Women's Golf Championship, which was played at Beaconsfield Golf Club. It was her first major tournament. It is reported she won in a "nerve-wracking final" on the nineteenth hole. The same year she teams with W.J. Thompson to win the Lady and Gentleman Combination at the Toronto and District Golf Tournament.
In 1922 Ada Mackenzie won the Ontario Ladies' Golf Title. She tied for best gross (89) at the Ladies' Canadian Championship, held at Lambton. At the Canadian Ladies' Open Championships, she tied for best score in a qualifying round (with an 84). The championship was played at the Toronto Golf Club.
In 1925 she won the Ladies' Canadian Open, played at the Royal Ottawa. By 1926 she was being acknowledged in England and the United States as well as in Canada.
Ada Mackenzie had been increasingly upset about the treatment of women Click to Enlargein golf and had resolved to build the first women's club after her return from England in 1923. She felt a women's club was essential because there was not a single club in Canada that did not restrict the playing time of women, making golf particularly difficult for business women.
Ada Mackenzie 1951The Toronto Ladies' Golf and Tennis Club, the first women's golf course in Canada and the second on the Continent, opened in 1926. Ada Mackenzie assured the members of the Mississaugua Club that she always would play for the Club that had meant so much to her and her parents for so many years. Nevertheless, she left the Club the following year when she was made managing director of the Toronto Ladies' Club, agreeing to lead that club's team.
For forty-three years after leaving Mississaugua, she played for the Toronto Golf Club.
As well, she had opened and managed a sportswear shop on Bloor Street in Toronto in 1930...selling it in 1958 so that she could have "a lot more fun on the golf course."
R. Ada Mackenzie came in second in the 1951 Toronto & District Ladies Golf Meet, The Rodger Memorial Trophy
J. P. Bickell
In the 1920's some of the more prosperous members were building either permanent or summer homes adjacent to the Club. The J.P. Bickell residence was one of the first year-round homes to be built in the area.
A financier and philanthropist, Bickell made a hole-in-one on the third hole, in 1925. To celebrate, he released eighteen coloured balloons from the Club, offering $10 for the return of each balloon, provided it was found outside a radius of two miles of the Club. (He gave the finder of the balloon $4 and contributed the remaining $6 to the Star Santa Claus Fund.) The fund received $108, indicating all the balloons were retrieved. A hole-in-one party held by Mr. Bickell at the Club raised a total of $179.30 for the fund.
During the war years, J.P. Bickell left to join Lord Beaverbrook in England to set up ways and means of boosting British airplane production. Local newspapers reported members Bickell and Lord Beaverbrook were in Nassau dining with the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
January 3, 1907 - February 4, 2001
As recorded in the 75th Anniversary Book
The success story of Gordon Brydson parallels the growth of the Club. His accomplishments are found in the proudest pages of the Club’s Book of achievements. Gordon started setting goals for himself when he was just a teenager; he ran the half-mile in an interschool event in London, Ontario, with a time of 2:02 minutes. The record held up for two years.
In the early 1920’s he became a professional sportsman. He played football briefly for the Argos. He played lacrosse. And baseball. He was a star right-winger briefly with the Toronto Maple Leafs and later with both the Chicago and Detroit Clubs. He signed with Chicago at age eighteen, then moved over to Buffalo where he led the league in scoring.
Conn Smythe bought his contract from Buffalo, but Gordon refused to sign with the Leafs because Conn Smythe offered too little money. Gordon was sent to London, where he earned $1,800 more than he was offered in Toronto. He concluded his hockey career as captain of the Detroit team. (He is well remembered at the Detroit Club; Gordon is the romantic who left, with the coach’s permission, to get married. And got the coach fired!).
In the summers, he was assistant golf professional at the Toronto Golf Club. He had a taste of being a golfing winner when, in 1930, he shared first prize in an assistant pro’s tournament at Rosedale.
It was apparent that Gordon was a natural – and the next year, still an assistant pro, he went for a big one; the Ontario Open. It ended in a three-way tie. The easy-going young hockey player apparently didn’t understand that he should have been overawed. Instead, he showed up the next day for the eighteen-hole playoff, relaxed and good humoured…and won the title.
That year, he also designed and built the Muskoka Beach Bungalow Camp Golf Course for several wealthy friends. By the end of the year, twenty-three-year old Gordon Brydson was offered the post as head professional at Mississaugua. He accepted, but with two conditions. If his hockey team, the Chicago Shamrocks, made the play-offs, he would have to start late. And then leave early to report to Chicago before the end of September. His conditions were accepted. It was, of course, an eight-month appointment (from April 1 to November 30). For seventeen years, Gordon left December 1 for Jamaica, where he had a winter appointment.
His appointment won the solid approval of the press. The Star Weekly reported, “Gordon Brydson succeeds Bob Cunningham at this very important Toronto Club. He is the celebrated hockey player with the Chicago team, but plays golf almost as well as he chases and manipulates the puck.” The Toronto Star noted that “it marks another milestone in the career of the Toronto hockey and golf star.” (Gordon was playing on the wing for Chicago and was rated one of the finest players in the league. In 1931 he had led the goal scorers). The Mail and Empire made the approval unanimous, “Both Mississaugua and Gordon Brydson are to be congratulated.”
He started his new post by setting a course record at Mississaugua shooting a 66. Then, a few days later, he had a hole-in-one on the tenth hole. Eight years later he was again being congratulated for setting a brand new course record (31 out, 34 in). But the archives were examined and it was found that in the intervening years, he had shot a sizzling 64! He seemed to be at his best when he was challenged by top players. When San Snead won the Ontario Open, Gordon moved up to second spot by carding a 69 in the last round when he was playing with Snead.
He was competitive, liked to finish strong, and had become a favourite of the press. He was relaxed, approachable, quotable…and they loved him. Headlines of the day reflect the respect they had for both the man an his talent:
The Justly Popular Professional Rules the Roost Brydson Moves to the Top…Brydson Played as Though He Hadn’t a Care in the World – and Won by Four Strokes…Gordie Brydson Beats Par to Land Quebec Open….Popular Mississaugua Pro Shoots Sizzling Five Under Par to Sweep to Championship. When he hit a fallow period and then bounced back in winning form, nobody was more relieved than the media. A profile in the Canadian Golfer said he had been ‘beset by circumstances which have dimmed the real caliber of his play.
Brydson Moves Back to the Top, crowed a headline. And, “golfers all down the line join in paying homage to a young man who, long overdue to click, came into his own. Congratulations to Mississaugua for having as a professional such a sterling player who is a credit to the Club in every respect.”
When he clicked, he clicked big. He was Canada’s top professional in 1944, winning the Canadian Professional Golf Association Championship, and in 1945, the Ontario Open.
But for all his keen competitiveness, he had another, less conspicuous, talent. He was a great teacher. When Mississaugua’s young Jimmy Twiss won the Ontario Junior Championship, it was Gordon the press interviewed. They knew who had taught Jimmy.
Gordon had patterned Jimmy’s style after the American golfer, Ralph Guldahl, because Jimmy was the same build as the older man. Gordon had taken movies of Guldahl when both were in the Maritimes in 1939, and he frequently ran the movies to refresh his memory while he was grooming Jimmy.
Said Gordon, “It is necessary to teach every golfer differently. We must find the style and swing that suits the individual.” He piloted both young Jimmy Twiss and Marion Walker to Ontario Jumor Championships in 1942. It was the first time in Ontario that any Club had had boy and girl champions in the same season.
In September he was surprised again. This time he was presented with a cheque for $325 at the Field Day annual banquet. The funds had been voluntarily subscribed for by the Club members. “The applause when Gordon entered the room was the heartiest and most prolonged. Gordon rapidly conquered his feelings and gave a splendid response,” according to a memo of the day.
As well, most of Gordon’s assistants went on to top jobs at other Clubs. When Gordon won the top professional honours. The double honours going to one Club was an unusual feat, and a special presentation to both was made a Club’s annual field day stag dinner.
Throughout his long career with the Club, he made young people his priority. But, if he was liked by the media, and put on a pedestal by juniors, he also was admired by his peers. For six years he was president of the Canadian Professional Golfer’s Association.
At his own Club, members regularly acknowledged his growing list of accomplishments. One day, in 1941, the women golfers asked him to join them to make a ruling on a play. When he arrived it was a surprise party. They gave him an RCA Victor radio in recognition of “the wonderful golf you have played this season.”
The media dogged Gordon to get good copy, always looking for a new angle. The Toronto Star, in 1946, had him operating an analyst’s couch. Brydson Psychoanalyzes Trends in Gold Duffers. A lengthy column listed in tips and techniques for correcting the mot common faults, with Gordon describing the most common as ‘impatience.” The column ended with a typically dry Brydson comment, “pupils can’t wait to put the lessons into action so they can promptly forget everything shown them.”
By now, cigars were his trademarks. When in 1948, he was in Vancouver competing for the Canadian Professional Golf Association title, the Vancouver paper headlined, Brydson Uses 16 Cigars While Winning CPGA with Last Hole Birdie. The story, carried by the CP wire service started, “Gordie Brydson, of the Toronto Mississaugua Golf Club, tossed away his 16th cigar of the day on the lat green, sand a three foot putt as darkness was closing in, and won the CPGA championship.” The unflappable golfer had to sink a birdie on the final green to beat Stan Leonard by one stroke.
By now, cigars were his trademarks. When in 1948, he was in Vancouver competing for the Canadian Professional Golf Association title, the Vancouver paper headlined, BrydsonUses 16 Cigars While Winning CPGA with Last Hole Birdie. The story, carried by the CP wire service started, “Gordie Brydson, of the Toronto Mississaugua Golf Club, tossed away his 16th cigar of the day on the lat green, sand a three foot putt as darkness was closing in, and won the CPGA championship.” The unflappable golfer had to sink a birdie on the final green to beat Stan Leonard by one stroke.
He was chosen five times to represent Canada in the Canada-United States Hopkins International Match. In 1955, at La Jolla, California, Gordon teamed with Al Balding to defeat Cary Middlecoff and Lloyd Magnum (both former U.S. Open Champions). However, the rest of the Canadian team did not fare well in their matches, and the American team won. But Gordon Brydson always seemed to play his best when he played the best…and he played them all: Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Bobby Jones, Bryson Nelson, Walter Hagen, Julius Boros, Tommy Armour, Gene Littler, Bobby Locke, Dr. Cary Middlecoff.
By 1959, the football-hockey-golf start had added a new sport. Now he was appointed curling instructor for Mississaugua’s new curling rink. And he excelled in another unrelated area. The good-looking, well-groomed golfer, year after year, was named as one of the best-dressed men in Canada (by the Men’s Fashion Council) joining Jack Kent Cooke and General Guy Simmonds. But for members at Mississaugua, it was his record as a golfer that stood out:
(Leading Canadian Pro in Open)
||Canadian P.G.A. (Senior Championship)
|Represented Canada five times in Hopkins International Team Matches
The Hopkins Matches were the forerunner of the present World Cup, which was known previously as the Canada Cup. Gordon Brydson was instrumental in establishing the Hopkins Matches in 1948. He convinced John J. Hopkins that a series of golf matches between the United States and Canada would be good not only for the game, but for the relations between the two countries. Hopkins was not a golfer, but he was interested in the game.
In the middle 1960’s, Gordon was slowed by a persistent hip problem. For five years he suffered with arthritis and a calcium spur in his hip causing him increasing pain that he had to live with daily.
Then, in 1970, a major operation removed the head of the high bone and replaced it with an artificial head, coupled with a plastic-lined hip socket. The operation was successful. Ten years later, he had a similar operation on his other hip.
After the operation he went to Florida and, without telling his wife, Dorothy Gordon packed his clubs. He went to a practice range where he found that, for the first time in years, he could swing without pain. He immediately went out and played eighteen holes.
However prior to the operation, he and the Club had negotiated his retirement and it was too late to reverse the decision. He retired after the golf season in 1971, accepting an honorary post. But he had trained his successor. Bill Aldridge was ready to step into the post of both head golf professional and curling professional.
Gordon Brydson was, and is, an honorary life member and a special consultant. On the Club’s seventy-fifth anniversary in 1981, he hosted a series of lunches for the press during which he shared such rich reminiscences that the reporters, editors and television personnel were reluctant to leave. After one of the lunches, CFRB personalities Bill Stephenson and Wally Crouter phoned him from their studio the following morning to continue the conversation on the air.
On February 6, 1982, Gordon, accompanied by his wife Dorothy, was inducted into the RCGA Canadian Golf Hall of Fame, in acknowledgement of his rich contribution to golf in Canada.
Gordon Brydson’s accomplishments were bigger than the records show. He had – and has- good humour, judgment, dry wit and style. In 1981 the members of Mississaugua chose their seventy-fifth anniversary to honour their long-time professional on his fifty-year association with the Club. The Gordon Brydson Invitational was a golfing event that brought the best golfers in Canada back to Mississaugua to honour their good friend.
In 1995, Gordon Brydson sat down for an interview with Marlene Anderson at Mississaugua Golf and Country Club. This interview was filmed by Andmar Video Creations and clips can be viewed below:
Golf Course Architects
||Percy Barrett from Lambton Golf Club designed 9 holes
||George Cumming from the Toronto Golf Club increased it to 18 holes
||Donald Ross made revisions to the course
||Stanley Thompson lengthened the course in preparation for the 1931 Canadian Open
The Thompson Brothers
A trio of brothers put Mississaugua on the map. In the twenties, the Thompson brothers were considered the top golfing family in all of North American terms of achievement. They were in the sport headlines for a decade.
Actually there were five brothers. Nicol Thompson, the eldest and the only professional, played out of Ancaster. Mat lived in Manitoba. But W.J. (Bill), Stanley and Frank were Mississaugua amateur players and the three brothers competed with each other and the rest of the world for the major trophies of the day.
The first record of their achievements appears in 1919. The Toronto and District Golf Tournament, cancelled during the war years, was held for the first time since 1913 – and took place at Mississaugua. The Mail and Empire headlined “Mississaugua’s Thompson Bros. Sweep the Card.” The three brothers had finished one, two and three.
That same year, the Toronto papers reported that Frank Thompson beat Bobby Jones at the Canada versus United States match on the course of the Engineer’s Club in Roslyn, N.Y.
Click to Enlarge
Stanley Thompson, 1919
By the early twenties, Toronto papers regularly referred to the Thompson brothers as “the premier golfing family of Canada.”
The Toronto papers trumpeted: “Mississaugua Owes Much to Thompsons” with the article emphasizing that Mississaugua “had demonstrated it had the strongest team in Ontario.” With the Thompsons at the helm, Mississaugua had defeated Rosedale for the city championship.
In 1923 the Mississaugua Club honoured W.J. with a life membership and an engraved gold watch – an honour he now shared with brother Frank and Ada Mackenzie.
The brothers, still competing with each other in 1924, went to the Ontario Amateur Championship and the Ontario Open. W.J. came home the winner at the amateur event, Stanley won the second event at the Open. But Frank was the big winner that year – he won the Canadian Amateur Championship.
By 1924, the golfing family was being talked about in golf circles all over the Continent.
A New York paper headlined “Thompson That’s All.” Greg Clark, famous Toronto journalist, picked up the Toronto Star Weekly on July 20, 1924. The headline: “World’s Greatest Golfing Family.” The cutline under the picture of the five brothers said, “Frank, twice champion of all Canada, and current champion of Canada. Mat, runner-up in Manitoba Championship, Nicol, professional at Hamilton Golf Club and Canadian Professional Champion in 1922. Stanley, a medal player and head of the golfing architect and engineering firm bearing his name. W.J. ‘Bill’ a lawyer, twice Canadian Champion, twice Toronto and District Champion, and winner of four of the six medal plays which he entered this year and current Ontario Champion.”
The year was only 1924. There were several years of triumph lying ahead for all the brothers.
The golf reporters of the day wrote so often about the brothers, and had such expectations for their achievements, that frequently newspaper headlines proclaimed when they lost. From theToronto newspapers: “Thompson Beaten in Buffalo Tourney…Frank Thompson did not Play at Tournament.”
Frank Thompson, 1923
Then, of course, there were the positive headlines: “W.J. Thompson Breaks Record Stanley Thompson Wins St. Augustine Trophy…W.J. Thompson Leads Canadian Amateur Field for Fourth Time…Thompsons of Toronto; Both Win in Florida …Thompson Brothers Lead Golf Field..Thompson’s Win Well Deserved...W.J. Thompson Leads Canadian Amateur Field for Fourth Time.
By 1924, Stanley Thompson, the head of the most active golf architectural company in North America, had built fifty-six golf courses (twelve in the U.S. and forty-four in Canada), and was currently designing and constructing the Jasper Lodge course at Lac Beauvert for the Canadian National Railways. It was Stanley Thompson who, some years later, redesigned and lengthened the Mississaugua course. He once said, “I have often missed perfection in a hole in order to spare some perfection of nature.”
The Thompson Brothers weren’t to be stopped. In 1925, W.J. won the Ontario Amateur Championship. He then entered the Canadian Open and won Leading Amateur.
In 1926, Frank won the Florida Winter Amateur Championship which had been won the previous year by brother Stanley.
In subsequent years, new names appeared in the headlines. But in 1930, a Globe clipping flagged another Thompson victory.
“W.J. Thompson Made a Come Back.”
He had won the Prince of Wales Tournament on the course budded “the roof of the world” at Banff.
The success of the famous golfing family was singular. But the brothers shared a philosophy based on psychological behaviour that perhaps was ahead of its time. W.J. once spoke of Frank’s participation in the Canadian Championship in 1921. In early rounds, Frank had played aggressive, heady golf. Then, in the semi-finals, he began playing safe. At the end of eighteen holes, he was three down. Said Bill, “Mat and I decided to prevent Frank from falling into the hands of the crowd at lunch, having to listen to their condolences and post mortems of the play.
It would sap his confidence.” The brothers kidnapped Frank, taking him to another club “where there were a bunch of girls we knew” and they all laughed their way through lunch without once mentioning golf. They returned for the afternoon round. Only then did W.J. get back to golf. His parting shot was “Let her go. Smash them out. Smack ‘em right up to the pin. And don’t look up on your putts until they’re in the hole.” Frank went on to win the Canadian Championship.
Similarly, in a later championship match, Frank was subconsciously trying to compete with Happy Fraser, whose style was to joke with the gallery. W.J. left it was a losing situation. He advised Frank to play the eighteen holes in total silence, shutting out Happy, his antics and the crowd. He did. And he won.
As well, Bill believed in listening to the demands of his body. Instead of forcing himself to go to bed at a sensible hour where he would “toss and fret and play golf all night – and be fagged out by morning,” he often would eat a heart dinner, dance all evening and sleep soundly for just a few hours.
Whatever the secrets of this remarkable family, they helped put Mississaugua on the map as well as making golf history as the premier golfing family of any era.