Golf courses were plagued by drought conditions and grasshoppers during the Thirties and the provincial economy was disastrous. The Saskatchewan Golf Association continued to operate with income derived from affiliation fees paid by golf clubs in the province, totaling between $160 and $195 a year.
Championship tournaments were held every year for the men’s Amateur, Junior and Open events. After collecting tournament fees, paying out Open cash prizes of $50 for first place then $25, $15 and $10 for the next placings (or purchased prizes if the winners were not professionals) and paying an honorarium to the secretary, the association showed a small profit most years.
1930 Men: Moose Jaw Golf Club, July 14-18
Home course must have been an advantage since two Moose Jaw players were in the final match of the Saskatchewan men’s amateur, with Tom Russell winning 6 and 4 over E. Alguire.
After sending a team to Jasper last year, the Saskatchewan Golf Association voted to support further inter-provincial team play with a $50 contribution. A committee was set up to choose a Saskatchewan team resulting in four young amateurs being sent to compete at the Royal York Golf Club in Toronto – Tommy Russell and Dale Belford from Moose Jaw, and Phil Morse and W. Kinnear from Saskatoon. Over the decade rail travel expenses were paid for teams to attend five other inter-provincial competitions in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Ottawa, London, and Montreal.
1930 Women: Regina Golf Club, August 11-15
Forty-six golfers entered the provincial women’s competition – eight from Moose Jaw, five from Saskatoon and thirty-three from Regina. Mrs. Gill of Moose Jaw set a new course record with an 86 on Tuesday, but ultimately lost the championship final to Gladys Rideout 7 and 6. Myrtle Creighton was elected the new president and also took the putting contest.
1931 Men: Riverside Country Club, August 17-20
Most golf clubs in northern Saskatchewan were represented as 170 competitors registered for play in the amateur and open tournaments. Twelve professionals from the three prairie provinces competed in the Open followed by a Professionals’ two-day event at the new layout at the Saskatoon Golf Club. Matches were scheduled four minutes apart. Twenty-two-year-old Phil Morse of Saskatoon GC won his third Saskatchewan amateur title in four years, defeating A.R. (Buck) Buchan of Regina Golf Club who was playing in his first major tournament since arriving from Scotland three years earlier. N.C. Byers was thanked for his financial assistance for the Willingdon Cup team.
1931 Women: Saskatoon Golf Club, August 17-21
The women’s tournament was at the Saskatoon Golf Club while the men played Riverside, but that must have presented some difficulties as they voted to schedule a different week in the future. The association planned to further junior girls’ golf in affiliated clubs.
Gladys Rideout won her third consecutive provincial title and her fourth overall by defeating Hilda Yule of Riverside, four and three. There was a lot of interest in the mixed two-ball foursome handicap event as forty-two couples took part.
1932 Men: Regina Golf Club, August 8-11
Saskatchewan Golf Association president Russ Smith and his son Ken both made the quarter-finals of the Amateur. Two 17-year-olds from Saskatoon, Otto Anderson and Jack Millar were the Amateur finalists, playing in heavy wind and a steady drizzle of rain. A hardy Regina gallery of about 100 followed the play which was won by Millar 4 and 3. The junior competition kept getting pushed back as the young men competed in the Amateur and a junior champion still had not been declared at the end of all other play. This led to a discussion about the age bracket for the junior event. Otto Anderson eventually won the junior competition. Joe Lund was declared the Open winner and Hugh Fletcher the runner-up.
The 1932 Senior Men’s Championship was held in Moose Jaw with eight players registered. Brigadier General George Tuxford won on the 13th green over James Balfour of Regina.
1932 Women: Moose Jaw Golf Club, August 15-19
Scorching sun made the climb through the ravines and gullies of the Moose Jaw course exhausting for the competitors. The championship consolation flight became known as ‘the waffle iron flight.’ A beautiful green-handled electric waffle iron was the much-admired and discussed prize donated by the National Light and Power Company and it ultimately went to Saskatoon with the flight winner Mrs. G.H. Anderson. Myrtle Creighton, Saskatoon, won the championship over Mrs. W.L. Taylor of Regina, 5 and 3.
Miss Agnes Rorison of Moose Jaw was mentioned as presiding over the annual meeting, and later as past-president, so she must have taken over from Mrs. J.H.S. Garrett who had been elected president at the 1931 annual meeting.
1933 Men: Saskatoon Golf and Country Club, August 14-17
The provincial amateur tournament attracted 162 entries plus twelve professionals in the Open. Dr. George Bigelow became the first Saskatchewan player to win both the Amateur and Open at the same tournament. He had been Saskatchewan Junior champion in 1926 then became a member of the golf team while studying at Edinburgh University. He entered the British Amateur in 1931 before he returned to Regina with his dental degree. He defeated William Turnbull of Saskatoon 6 and 5 for the amateur title. Bigelow and Tom Ross of Regina were tied at 150 after the regulation two rounds of the Open but Bigelow won the nine-hole playoff by one stroke. Ross received $50 cash for the Open, followed by R.C. MacWilliams of Regina, Hugh Fletcher of Moose Jaw, and Walter Kinnear of Saskatoon.
1933 Women: Regina Golf Club, August 7-11
Gladys Rideout of Regina regained the provincial title, defeating Mabel Palko of Saskatoon 4 and 3. Over 200 spectators followed the final match and they clapped in appreciation at the quality of golf they saw.
Wilkie women’s golf club became affiliated with the CLGU Sask. branch.
1934 Men: Regina Golf Club, July 30-August 2
Ken Smith of the Regina Golf Club won the amateur championship, resulting in his name being engraved on the Balfour Cup eight years after his father Russ Smith won in 1926. His hole-in-one on #7 contributed to an excellent round. Tom Ross won the Open.
The Taylor Cup was an annual award presented to the amateur player from a sand greens course (not Regina, Saskatoon, Moose Jaw or Prince Albert) with the lowest score in the qualifying round. Roy Sandquist from Estevan won it in 1934 and in 1935.
The SGA decided against sending a team to Montreal for the Willingdon Cup. A committee was tasked with investigating handicapping systems in other parts of the country with the objective of having a similar system in Saskatchewan.
1934 Women: Riverside Country Club, August 6-10
Virginia Brown of Regina defeated Nan Winton of Saskatoon one up for the provincial championship. Sir Frederick Haultain presented the prizes to winners of the four flights, the handicap events, and the mixed foursomes.
The women’s association wanted to send a competitor to the Canadian championship and voted $100 toward the expenses of the provincial champion or runner-up. “In the event of the champion or runner-up being unable to make the trip to the east, it was decided that any member of the Saskatchewan Section in the East at the time of the tournament with a handicap of 16 or under be asked to represent the province in the tourney.” (SP Aug. 8, p.11) However, no Saskatchewan representative attended the national event.
North Battleford G&CC became affiliated this year. Inter-club matches were encouraged between smaller clubs. A junior competition was desired for the next year.
1935 Men: Moose Jaw Golf Club, July 15-18
Dr. George Bigelow, now a dentist in Tisdale, won his second Amateur after being runner-up the previous year and winning in 1933. “He is the cleverest long iron shot player in the Province and his temperament is ideally suited to tournament golf” was the opinion of Star Phoenix reporter Riddell. (July 19, p.15) He won 5 and 4 over Gordon Beattie of Regina. Hugh Fletcher took the $50 top prize money in the Open.
1935 Women: Moose Jaw Golf Club, August 12-16
Virginia Brown of Regina easily defended her provincial title by defeating Mabel Palko 6 and 5. Host club Moose Jaw won the team competition and a local couple won the mixed foursomes.
In 1935 inter-provincial matches became part of the national championships being held in Vancouver. Mabel Palko (SGCC) and Jean Menard (MJGC) were the first Saskatchewan women golfers sent to a national competition.
Fifteen clubs now belonged to the Saskatchewan Section of the CLGU. As usual, pars managers and handicap managers were elected for both the North and South of the province.
1936 Men: Prince Albert Golf Club, July 13-16
This was Prince Albert’s first occasion to host the provincial tournament. Two young brothers from Regina Golf Club, 19-year-old Bob Reid and 20-year-old Ben, both won their semi-final matches on the eighteenth hole to reach the championship final. Bob dominated the final match 11 and 10 and also won the longest drive contest during the week with a 272-yard drive. The inter-provincial team of Bob Reid, George Bigelow, Cam Willis and Ken Smith traveled to Winnipeg for the nationals, with their meals and rail tickets of $192.90 covered by the SGA.
It was decided that next year there would be a second day of play for pros to compete for a money prize instead of their participation only in the one-day Open.
As had been the case for many years, the prize presentation ceremony was presided over by Sir Frederick Haultain, the Chief Justice of Saskatchewan, and an enthusiastic golfer himself.
1936 Women: Wascana Country Club, August 10-14
Fifty-six golfers registered for the tournament, with sixteen from outside Regina. Two of the younger players pitched a tent near the course as their home for the week. The tournament committee’s innovation of serving sandwiches and cold drinks to players as they went to the tenth tee was much appreciated. A busy social calendar was scheduled including a banquet with entertainment at the Regina Golf Club attended by 100 guests.
As the tournament progressed it was noted that some golfers “developed a serious case of ‘creekitus,’ a disease commonly found near the Wascana course. They found that high balls from most of the tees often hit hard slopes and popped, without hope of recovery, into that winding waterway that crossed or bordered seven or eight fairways.” (StarPhoenix, Aug 12, p.10)
The headline in the Leader-Post stated “Golfing history written as 15-year-old rules the roost.” Margaret Esson of Rosetown had been impressing all week and a large gallery admired her easy-going swing and hard, straight shots when she prevailed 4 and 3 over Margaret (Marnie) Macmillan of Riverside Country Club in the final. Unfortunate mix-ups and the high cost prevented Esson from travelling to nationals in Montreal to represent the province.
After a discussion at the annual meeting, it was unanimously agreed that only registered caddies could be used in the future, not relatives.
1937 Men: Riverside Country Club, July 12-15
103 players competed in the 1937 men’s amateur with Arnie Lozo of the Saskatoon G&CC finishing one up over Eddie Wiseman of Regina for the title. Wilf Greenwood of Regina defended his Open Championship title. Regina pro, Tom Ross, won the professional event with 293, topping fifteen other competitors. Mickey Pyke of Humboldt won his first junior title. The inter-provincial team of Bob Reid, Cam Willis, George Bigelow and Arnie Lozo travelled to Ottawa for the national event.
1937 Women: Saskatoon Golf & Country Club, August 9-13
A field of 82 played the SG&CC course with the women’s par at 78. Club pro William Kinnear’s daughter Mae was the qualifying round leader after shooting 88. The championship match saw Gladys Rideout, who was outdistanced off the tee by young Margaret Esson of Rosetown, use her deadly short game to her advantage, only winning on the eighteenth hole. Rideout’s first provincial championship was in 1926 and this was her sixth time claiming the title, as well as one time when she lost the final on the second extra hole.
The first Saskatchewan team of four was sent to nationals in Winnipeg and consisted of Rideout and Esson along with Virginia Brown of Regina and Mrs. R.W. Thorpe of Saskatoon G&CC.
1938 Men: Waskesiu Golf Club, July 4-7
Waskesiu Golf Club hosted the provincial championships for the first time and there was an excellent turnout of 139 competitors. “This week’s tournament will offer an excellent test of golf as it will be the first provincial tourney ever played on all watered fairways and greens” stated the StarPhoenix. The number of trees golfers faced at Waskesiu compared to prairie courses awed the competitors and gave rise to a parody quoted by Walt Riddell (StarPhoenix 1938, Jul.6, p.11):
I think that I shall never see
A hazard rougher than a tree
A tree o’er which my ball must fly
If on the green it is to lie;
A tree which stands that green to guard
And makes the shots extremely hard;
A tree whose leafy arms extend
To kill the mashie shots I send;
A tree that stands in silence there,
While angry golfers rave and swear.
Niblicks were made for fools like me
Who cannot ever miss a tree.
Dr. George Bigelow won his third provincial championship, defeating Doug Lemery of Saskatoon, one up. Tom Ross won both the Open and Professional events. The inter-provincial team of George Bigelow, Ken Smith, W. Spriggs and H. Kilburn competed in London, ON.
1938 Women: Prince Albert Golf Club, August 1-5
Fifty golfers took part in the women’s event but it turned out to be ‘Margaret Essen week’ in Prince Albert. The 17-year-old had the lowest score in the qualifying round, set a course record with a score of 76, helped the Saskatoon Golf & Country Club win the team event, then won the championship title over clubmate Mable Palko on the seventeenth hole. It had already been decided that she would represent Saskatchewan at nationals in Ottawa based on scores turned in during the season. There she turned in a score of 85 in the qualifying round then defeated former Scottish and British champion Nan Baird 6 and 4. In the second round of match play Margaret took thirteen holes to dispose of Winifred Evans of Vancouver who had just defeated Ada Mackenzie. A gallery of four hundred turned out to watch her next match, unnerving the teenager, as she lost to Mrs. Walker, a British Curtis Cup player. Margaret was listed in the national rankings with a handicap of two.
1939 Men: Regina Golf Club, July 3-6
Two Regina Club members met in the amateur final, with Harry Burns handily defeating Dr. Ben Reid 7 and 6. Tommy Ross, pro at the Regina Golf Club, set a course record of 65 (seven under par) the day before the tournament started. He went on to win the Professional title for the fourth consecutive time, scoring 292. Mickey Pyke won his third junior championship in a row, playing out of North Battleford this year instead of Humboldt. He also won the award for the best sand-greens player in the qualifying round. The team of Doug Lemery, Bill Turnbull, Don Ross and Mickey Pyke travelled to Montreal for the inter-provincial championship.
The Saskatchewan Golf Association honoured its long-time secretary, J.P. Runciman of Regina, upon his resignation.
1939 Women: Regina Golf Club, August 7-11
The fourth time that Mabel Palko competed in the championship final was a breakthrough as she finally won the title on the eighteenth hole over Mrs. Balbirnie of Regina. Close to 300 spectators followed the match. Other events held during the week were long drive competitions, pitching, putting and mixed foursomes.
The national women’s championship for 1939 was cancelled.
A new driving range in Saskatoon in 1932 gave golfers an opportunity to hone their game. ”The Swat ‘Em Golf Course on Avenue A North near the Normal School is one of the few driving ranges in western Canada. At this course, golfers may practice shots for hours without the trouble of walking after or looking for balls. In addition, there is a competent golfer in charge to give advice to players having trouble with their drives or iron shots. A putting green forms part of the layout and is useful for practice.” (Saskatoon Star Phoenix, May 12, 1932, p.18)
Golfers looked forward to trying out a white rubber golf ball being introduced by Bobby Jones after three years of research. “It will clean more readily than a painted ball and will carry at least five yards farther.” (Star Phoenix, May 12, 1932, p. 19)
The 1939 CLGU Yearbook advertised golf clubs designed for women by Walter Hagen, available in three styles at Simpsons priced from $4.00 – $5.75 for irons and $5.00 – $7.00 for woods. Spalding also featured special women’s clubs.
For those interested in a golfing holiday outside the province in 1935, Canadian Pacific advertised a package trip to Banff for $100. It included a first-class rail ticket from Regina to Banff with a lower berth, accommodation and meals at the Banff Springs Hotel, and green fees for seven days. The golf tournament was the sixth annual competition for the Prince of Wales trophy.
This publication is courtesy of local golf historian Lori Harvie.