- Royal-Quebec Golf Club
The Royal-Quebec Golf Club is a
golfcourse founded in 1874 in Boischatel by members of the local businesscommunity, notably Scots-Quebecers bankers and businessmen who played a major role in its creation and development. [http://www.royalquebec.com/english/]
Located approximately 12 miles (18km) east of
Quebec Citynear Montmorency Falls, since 1925 it has been a semi-private club. One of the oldest golfclubs in America, the current 36-hole course is located on a 186 hectare piece of land with pine trees that have been growing since the beginning of the century. The club house, overlooking the 18th green of the "Quebec" course, offers a view of l' Île d'Orléansand Quebec City.
The early years
The introduction of golf in North America is made of legends. Some authors go back to the XVII century, in
Albany, New York, while others prefer the XVIII century, at the time of the conquest of New Franceby England. For the latter, golf was first practiced in 1760 on the Plains of Abrahamby Scottish soldiers from General James Wolfe's army. Nothing however is documented. What is undeniable is that one of the first mentions of this sport in North America goes back to the autumn of 1854 when a Quebec newspaper reported that a young Scottish sailor, William Doleman, while passing through, hit balls on the Plains of Abraham. It will however be necessary to wait until November 4, 1873for the formation of the first permanent golf club in North America, the Royal Montreal Golf Club.
The exact date of the foundation of the Quebec Golf Club is however more dubious and opinions are divided on the subject. The archives and all trophies of the Quebec Golf Club indicate 1874 as the year of its foundation although James A. Barclay, the renowned Canadian golf historian, states that this club was instituted in 1875. Regardless, a fact remains: the Quebec Golf Club is the second oldest club in North America and, just like the Montreal Golf Club, bankers and business people of Scottish descent played a major role in its foundation. In 1895, this suburban
Quebec Citygolf club became one of the ten founding members of the Royal Canadian Golf Association.
The place chosen by its founders to establish their course, Cove Fields, was an exceptional site. Neighboring the famous
Citadel of Quebecand some 500 feet above the Saint Lawrence River, it offered in this second half of the XIX century a magnificent view of the surroundings of Quebec City. The ground, partly hilly, and undulating, is most picturesque. The famous British golf columnist, Horace G Hutchinson, declared in 1902, in golf that of “all places of interest, other than golfing interest, on which golf is played, the most entrancing is far away on the other side of the Atlantic, where the Quebec Golf Club plays beside the Plains of Abraham.” He continued: “Here the delving niblick may disinter a musket ball, heavy with history; the devious driver may find a grave in the St. Lawrence, far below him; he who is both far and sure may carry at a drive, as be a forlorn hope, the “Old Forts”. There are suggestions of poetry, war and even golf in the very names; for indeed the golf is good, with dire penalties for the erratic and feeble, and justly earned rewards for the strong and skilful.”
In 1915, the Quebec Golf Club must resign itself to leave this place of predilection since the
Canadian government, at the request of the Quebec Cityauthorities, decided to make with the Plains of Abraham a commemorative park. The club then moved to Courville, adjacent to the famous Montmorency Fallsand on the grounds of the historic Kent House. This is where Prince Edward Augustus, Duke of Kentresided from 1791 to 1793. He was the son of King George III and father of Queen Victoria, the longest reigning British monarch after ruling over a British Empire that covered a quarter of the globe for more that sixty years. This exclusive place is as splendid as the Plains of Abraham were. There is only one thing wrong: the land, of approximately, 5000 yards, does not allow the club to build a championship course. They tried to obtain additional pieces of land, but in vain. Consequently, the members of the Quebec Golf Club decided in 1922 to move again and build a new course on the other side of the Montmorency River in the municipality of Boischatel. The official opening of this new 6600 yards course took place on June 6, 1925. The elite of the Quebec society were members of the club. Politicians, businessmen and professionals mix among themselves and as a matter of fact, one of the Prime Ministers of Canada, the Right Honorable Louis St-Laurent, became president of the club at the beginning of the forties.
In 1934, King George V granted the Quebec Golf Club the privilege to add the “Royal” prefix to its name. The club thus became known as the Royal Quebec Golf Club and is one of the five golf clubs in Canada, which is proud to use this prefix by royal authorization. On this subject, let us note that obtaining the “Royal” prefix is, in
Great Britainand the Commonwealth Countries, an exclusive attribute. Indeed, some 2000 clubs of golf in Great Britain, about forty have been authorized to add this prefix to their name. Among those, the Royal and Ancient Golf Clubof St Andrews, the Royal Musselburgh Golf Club, the Royal Burgess Golfing Society of Edinburgh and the Royal Troon Golf Club.
The first interclub competition in North America opposed, only a few years after their respective foundations, the
Royal Montreal Golf Cluband the Quebec Golf Club. The Royal Quebec Golf Club then became the host of the first interclub tournament played in North America. It was in May 1876 that this competition was held. Four players of the Montreal Golf Club accepted the invitation, which was made to them to confront four golfers from the Quebec Golf Club. The Montrealers, little accustomed to playing on a marshy and broken course like the Cove Fields, suffered defeat. Eager undoubtedly, and to save their honor, they hastened to invite their opponents for a revenge match to be held on the links of the Fletcher's Field the following September. This time, it was the turn of the Quebec players to face unexpected difficulties and they were defeated. The experiment was most appreciated. A tradition had been established. The Challenge trophy is the stake of this friendly competition. The victory of the winning team is underlined each year by the addition to the trophy of a silver golf ball dedicated to the name of the winning club. The year 2000 will mark the 125th Anniversary of this competition between the two oldest golf clubs in North America, making it the oldest interclub match on the continent.
Several championships, amateur and professional, were held at the Royal Quebec Golf Club. The 1896 Canadian Amateur Champion-ship was held on the links of the Cove Fields and the two finalists, Steward Gillespie and William A. Griffith, were both members of the club. In 1947, the Royal Quebec Golf Club again hosted the Canadian Amateur Championship. Among the American entries,
Frank Stranahanand Skee Riegel, members of the American Ryder Cupteam, attended the tournament. Frank Stranahan was to defeat Bill Ezinicki, then an NHLhockey player with the Toronto Maple Leafs. It was the first time since 1938 that an American won the Earl Grey Cup. The Canadian Professional Golfers Association also held its championship at the Royal Quebec Golf Club in 1953 and 1961. Stan Leonardand Al Balding, two of the most prominent Canadian golfers, were the principal protagonists.
In 1956, the
LabattOpen attracted the PGA players to the Royal Quebec Golf Club and, except for Sam Snead, all the U.S. professional golfers took part in this tournament. They included Tommy Bolt, Jimmy Demaret, Doug Ford, Gene Littler, Dow Finsterwaldand the young Arnold Palmer. It was Billy Casper's first professional championship.
At the beginning of the sixties, the "
Shell's Wonderful World of Golf", then one of the most watched golf television broadcasts, recorded the game opposing Art Wallto Stan Leonardat the Royal Quebec. This Quebec City golf club was also the host of many national tournaments including the Interprovincial Team Matches, the Senior Championship of Canada, the National Ladies' Senior Championship, the Canadian Junior Championship and the Canadian Women's Amateur Golf Championships.
The fame of the Royal Quebec Golf Club and the growing popularity of golf encouraged its directors to add second 18 holes in the early sixties. Thus today the club enjoys two excellent courses, one, the Royal, of a length of some 6 600 yards and the other the Quebec of a length of approximately 6 500 yards. The two courses are very different, Although both are densely wooded, the oldest, the Royal, allows the golfer to try hitting the long ball contrary to the Quebec course which requires a high degree of accuracy and an excellent irons game. Their only similarity, if there is one, is that the ball does not roll. Indeed, the land on which the two courses of the Royal Quebec are built are old arable land and does not permit the ball to travel for a long distance once on the ground.
A new era
In 1937, the Royal Quebec Golf Club opened a new page in the history of golf in Canada, that of a great family of
French Canadiangolfers. The Huot family, like the majority of the French-Canadianfamilies of the time, is numerous: 13 children, including 8 boys. They were initiated early to golf. Natives of Boischatel, they lived very close to the Royal Quebec Golf Club. One should not be surprised to see them out of curiosity at the beginning, becoming interested in this sport, in particular by way of caddying. Moreover, the club’s professional, Frank E Locke, called upon their assistance when he gave lessons. The task of the young Huots was to collect the balls in y the fairway and around the practice green of those members who took lessons from the pro. Locke soon hired Jules, to work in his shop. Impressed by his talents, Locke registered him, in 1924, even if he was only 16 years old, in the Quebec Open. Five years later, Jules Huot became the assistant to the professional of the Kent Golf Links.
In 1937, his brothers Roland and Rodolphe became professionals of the Royal Quebec. Jules replaced his brother Roland as head professional of the club in the spring of 1942. He enjoyed an illustrious career on the links with 17 victories. He took part in three Masters and was the first Canadian Professional to win an American PGA sanctioned event, the General Brock Open in 1937. Rodolphe succeeded him in 1944. Just like his brother Jules, Rodolphe had an impressive record. In 1947, he won the Canadian Professional Golfers Championship with a score of 291, five shots better than his brother Jules who finished second. In 1972, he was honored by being elected president of the CPGA. Rodolphe Huot retired in 1975 and was replaced by his son Rodrigue who remains the club’s head professional to this date. His son Nicolas is currently an assistant professional with the club.
The Royal Quebec Golf Club is proud of its past 125 years. By following the way shown by its founders and always keeping in mind the motto appearing on its coat of arms, “Nec Temere Nec Timide” its future looks bright.
* Guy Rouleau, founder of Lunetterie Rouleau & Lunetterie New Look
* Jules Dallaire, founder of Groupe Cominar (deceased:
August 15, 2006)
* Marcel Bédard
List of Canadian organizations with royal patronage
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