Picton Golf & Country Club

Established 1907

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Do you have a story to share?
An interesting bit of history about the Club, a great moment in golf, a Hole-In-One or other achievement or an especially memorable round, be it heartbreaking or hilarious?


We would love to hear from you and share your memories with other members. Please click here to contact me now or send your stories to: memberexp@pictongolf.ca. See you on the Deck! ~ Rusty


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History of the Old 9 A View From The Deck, March version!

March is a month full of hope! Hope that the snow currently on the ground will soon disappear and that the new snow in the forecast will not amount to much, hope that we will be on the golf course in less than 50 more sleeps and hope, along with the greatest of expectations coupled with a dash of realism, that this is the year that it all comes together! I look forward to seeing everyone back on the course, on the deck or in the lounge, and to sharing our successes, gaffs and outright epic fails as we enjoy our 2019 golf season at The Club!

Last year we launched “A View From The Deck” in the Members’ Area of our website to showcase stories and chronicles of our Club. Members are encouraged to contribute to this feature and share their stories: interesting bits of history, memorable rounds, upbeat and humorous yarns about playing partners, old and new musings of the game and anecdotes that might provide a laugh or a smile.

The first story kicked off with my personal history with the Club, people I played with, the nuances of it being a 9-hole course. After that story was shared, I received some very positive feedback, as well as many questions from newer members as to the old 9-hole course layout, how it was played, the different tee block placements (which allowed the front 9 and the back 9 to be unique and the course to be played as a challenging 18-hole course) and how the transition was made from the 9th hole back to the 1st hole to begin the back 9.

So here we are with the second instalment of “A View From The Deck” and I thought that I would try to answer some of these questions and offer, to the best of my recollection, how the game was played on the old 9……. This is a long instalment with lots of great stuff, so get comfortable and read on!

To get us started, have a look at this old scorecard. Many thanks to Garry Daly, a long-time playing partner, for rooting around his files and sharing this with us. I won’t describe all hole-by-hole play but will focus on a few of the holes that I think those of you who did not play the course during this time might wonder about. My descriptions are all based on play from the white tees.  And of course, I do need to point out that even though I refer to this layout as the “Old 9”, to those who played the course prior to 1961, it is actually the “New 9” – but more on that later…. BTW, the rules outlined on this old scorecard are very much the same as they are now – but the one I miss is Rule #8!

It may get confusing as I reference old hole #’s and new, so here also is a map of the course that will give you an idea (more or less) of the old 9-hole layout. The old hole #s have been superimposed over the current ones. Remember, the old layout did not cross the Millennium Trail. In fact, the trail was still the CP Rail line at that time and many balls were saved from going out of bounds when they hit a passing freight train and bounced back into play!

Back in the day, there was no calling in for tee times, you didn't book in advance, you simply showed up, put your ball in the ball rack and waited your turn.  The first tee was pretty much where it is today.  I remember many a time we would jump the gun and head out at first light and rush around the front nine to get ahead of the players starting out at 8:00 am. (This practice was very much frowned upon, but what can I say, I was playing with my Dad!)

You may wonder how the transition was made from the 9th hole, to commence play on the 10th hole. The rules were, once you finished #9, you proceeded to the 10th tee (which was where the old tee box was beside today’s Pro Shop) and then you would be next to tee off after the group on the 1st tee. Play alternated this way throughout the rest of the game. 

Remember, the back 9 played the same holes, 1 thru 9 again, but with different tee block placements. The holes that provided the most significant changes were 3/12, 4/13 and 8/17. To visualize these holes, keep in mind that the old 3/12 is currently #9, the old 4/13 is currently #10 and the old 8/17 is now #17.

Hole #3 (now #9) has stayed pretty much as it was played in the past. The real challenge was coming back to play it as #12. The white tees were pushed back to where the blue tees are now, making it a very daunting Par 4.

The tee block on the old 4th hole (now #10) was where the blue tee block is now on the current #10. When that hole was played as #13, the tee block was all the way back to where the tee block is for the current #16, thus converting the hole to a Par 5. There were no tee blocks at all where the white, red and gold tees are on the current #10 as they would be right in the line of fire from the old 13thtee. And to further confuse things, the 13th tee block was shared with Hole #7 (currently #16). 

Just to keep things interesting, back in the old days, there was a 3 ft swale running across the fairway about 130 yards from the green on old #4 & #13. The grass was generally long, so long in fact that a walkway was cut through the middle. While this area was to be avoided, many a ball ended up in its thick grass!. Also of note, a pump was located between the old #3 and #4 and this provided much needed and refreshing cold spring water to thirsty golfers. The pump is still there today, sadly no longer in use.

Of all the old holes, I miss the layout of #8 the most. The tee block was way back and near the left of the green on the 1st hole. Looking at the old scorecard, I can’t believe that it only shows a 10-yard difference to today’s #17 tee placement – it sure felt a lot longer. When this hole was played as #17, the tee blocks were behind the placement that is currently used on #17.  It is interesting to note that the both tee block placements of old #8 and old #17 were changed prior to the addition of the new 9 holes due to complaints from the owner of the house on the right hand side of the driveway. While it was suggested that the fine members of the club were perhaps hitting this house too often, these same fine members felt that it really must have been the errant drives of visiting golfers!

Over the years, our Club and the Course have undergone many changes. Some big and some small, some due to necessity and some due to exciting innovations, but all contributing to the strength and betterment of the Club. Most significant of these changes, of course, was the addition of another 9 holes, paving the way to the 18-hole championship course we know today. The laws of nature too, continue to shape the course over the seasons. Perhaps we will return this spring to find an old tree, one that we might have hit more often than we can remember, has died or been storm damaged and has been removed. This season we will also be able to experience the new change on #10 where the pond, which has struggled to retain water as far back as I can remember, has been converted into a beautiful new sand trap.  

Last year, I had the chance to sit down with John David Lipson, our resident Club historian and four-time Club Champion, to talk about the changes over the years.  Many of these profound changes to our Club are well documented in two articles that John wrote for the Picton Gazette; one to celebrate our 100th Anniversary, and another published to recognize our expansion to our current 18-hole layout. Both articles are great reads, but the “expansion” article gives us some incredible history and insight as it takes us all the way back to our beginning.  And it confirms what many have heard, the original holes did have us hitting across the road, twice a nine, until 1961 and the introduction of the "new 9-hole layout".  

I share John’s articles with you here: 100thAnniversary and Memories of the Original Course.  These articles are also posted under the PLAY GOLF tab to keep this history alive for everyone, members and guests alike. To celebrate our history, John’s great articles will also be framed and hung in the Clubhouse. I know you all join me in thanking John David Lipson for preserving and sharing our history.  

I hope that you have enjoyed today’s instalment of “A View From The Deck” and perhaps have a better picture of some of the history of our Club. I hope to share more stories from members in future instalments and encourage you to send me your contributions. Send me a full story, or even just some tidbits that I can include. Doesn’t matter if some of you have heard these stories before, let’s share them again for all to enjoy. As Groucho Marx said: 

 If you've heard this story before, don't stop me, because I'd like to hear it again.

Stories define who we are and our connection to each other through this oft cursed, but always loved game. Think of these “View From The Deck” stories as an extension of the camaraderie and chatter we share on the Clubhouse Deck itself, coupled with this new opportunity to share some history, tall tales and remarkable achievements with everyone.

In closing I leave you with the words of Grantland Rice, the great 20thcentury sportswriter and golf advocate who sums up what we hope “A View From The Deck” will represent to all of us:

Golf is 20% mechanics and techniques. The other 80% is philosophy, humor, tragedy, romance, melodrama, companionship, camaraderie, cussedness and conversation.

I look forward to hearing from you and sharing your stories on "A View From The Deck"!

~ Rusty GiIchrist
March 2019