For the last half-century, the Thompson Golf Club (TGC) has been providing golfers here and in surrounding northern communities with a place to drive, pitch and putt, which is why its board will be throwing a big anniversary party to celebrate Aug. 3−5.
Board member Jenna MacLaine says the TGC is organizing a variety of activities next weekend, including scramble format tournaments, family-friendly attractions like face painting and even a live concert on Saturday night.
The TGC is also in the process of recruiting past members to return to the Hub of the North and join the fun.
“We have reached out to most golf clubs in Manitoba via email to try and spread the word that way,” said MacLaine. “We’ve had people reach out to former residents of Thompson that used to belong to the golf course, and Glenn [Laycock] does know of a few people who are making the trip up for that weekend.”
These former members include Kelly Davis, who is helping organize this event through the TGC’s 50th anniversary committee.
Davis says he vividly remembers the first time he stepped onto the course in 1969 when he was only 11 years old.
“My dad was golfing and I’d caddy for him,” he said. “When I got to [hole] number three, which was a par three at the time, I got to hit. So that was my reward for caddying; I got that one tee shot in nine holes.”
Throughout the next several years, Davis became more and more involved with different aspects of the club, signing up for junior golf, getting a job in the pro shop at age 13 and even working side-by-side with the greenskeeper.
“This, by far, was the best spot for a young kid to grow up in the summer,” he said. “We came out here at eight in the morning and the parents would pick us up at eight at night and all you’re doing is playing golf. It was a blast.”
Throughout the decades, Davis witnessed the TGC go through various changes.
He claims the bugs were even worse back in the day, especially before club members cleared out some of the smaller surrounding trees and bushes.
“If you went off the fairway you lost your ball immediately,” he said. “But since then, they’ve cleared the underbrush and now … when you go off the fairway you can find your ball. Plus it speeds up play, which is very important.”
All Davis and other golfers had to work with in the beginning was a 20x14-foot shack where they bought balls and paid their green fees, which is a far cry from the course’s current clubhouse and pro shop that was built in the mid-1980s.
Davis also remembers how the club used to draw enormous numbers at that time, like during the men’s open tournament of 1984−85.
“There were so many people involved in it that we had to line up at 2 a.m. ... and wait for the clubhouse to open at 6 a.m. so that we could register to make sure that we got into the tournament,” he said. “It was just phenomenal.”
The TGC’s overall membership has diminished quite bit since then, due in part to Thompson’s declining population and current economic struggles in the north.
Despite this, Davis is looking forward to touching base with old friends during the anniversary celebration and hopes that this event will rekindle the kind of passion for local golf that lead to the creation of this outdoor venue in the first place.
“We’re hoping for the best and we’re hoping for a good turnout and some fellowship and to share some stories,” he said. “I think it’ll be great.”