United Services/Macaulay Point Golf
Jack Bates of Victoria, B.C. has an abiding interest in researching, documenting and preserving the history of Esquimalt's and Victoria's military heritage.
To find out more about the history of Work Point, you can visit his website at http://workpoint.opcmh.ca
United Services/Macaulay Point Golf
When the Royal Marine Artillery arrived in Esquimalt in May of 1893 to replace “C” Battery at Work Point Barracks, within their ranks were two golf enthusiasts - Lt. George Edward Barnes and Lt. Frederick Templer. These two officers pursued the creation of a golf course, and construction commenced in October 1893.
Credit for the design of the nine hole golf links has been given to Hans Ogilvy Price, a stores department clerk at HM Dockyard. The Golf Links were operational in February of 1896, with the first Monthly Medal play, naval and military gentlemen, and ladies participating.
In June 1900, a tender was issued by the Royal Artillery for the erection of a small pavilion on the golf links at “Macaulay Plains.” An article published in The Navy and Army Illustrated on June 30th 1900 expressed the advantages of being stationed in Esquimalt, particularly being able to play golf at the diverse and pleasurable United Services Golf Links.
There was of course the occasional interruption in play by the Militia and cadets during their summer camps at Macaulay Plains. Also, prior to and during WW 1, there was a constant presence of Militia and CEF troops south of Bewdley Avenue while they were establishing their units, conducting training encampments and organizing exercises with horse-drawn field guns.
In October 1919, a new clubhouse, built by the able hands of the members, was erected at the corner of Lyall and Rithet (Macaulay) Streets, a most convenient location near the first tee box and the ninth green. Tournaments were also held between the three golf courses in the area at the time - the Colwood Golf Club, the United Services Golf Club, and the Victoria Golf Club.
A most interesting tournament was held on December 14th 1920, called the “Tombstone Tournament”. The following excerpt from The Daily Colonist talks about the event:
“In spite of the disagreeable weather of Sunday there was a large turnout of United Services Golf Club players at the Esquimalt links on that morning, to take part in the tombstone competition, in which the first prizes were Christmas turkeys and the second cash. Doubtless owing to the weather conditions most of the players ‘died’ comparatively early and tombstones were planted some distance short of the eighteenth hole. Miss Hardie won the ladies turkey and Mrs. Fairbairn was second. Mr. James Saviden survived the longest of the men and Mr. Meaking was next to him.”
Conditions at the United Services Golf Club became a challenge. Wandering cows and sheep, lack of maintenance (particularly at the greens), and the abundance of fairway rocks upset the members and prompted a change in 1922. Hence the Uplands Golf Club was created, with a movement of members to the new club. Also in 1927 the new Gorge Vale Golf Club was formed, drawing any potential new members.
In 1935 the club couldn’t pay the taxes and eventually the land and premises were purchased by the municipality. They in turn leased the land back to the Golf Club for five years at $1,000 a year, likely under the new name, the Macaulay Point Golf Club. It had seen better days and didn’t survive in the 1930s, even though young “Eric” Wright mowed the fairways with a horse-drawn tractor. Eric joined “B” Company PPCLI at Work Point in 1935, served overseas and returned to Victoria, where he became a well - known golfer at Uplands, Gorge Vale and Royal Colwood Golf Clubs. He died in 2011.
In March of 1940, the course was reopened for soldiers in the Victoria district. The reconstruction had been supervised by WW 1 veteran Freddie Burns, the course professional for over fifteen years, and there was “just a small fee charged to the troops for playing the course,” according to the Daily Colonist.
Freddie eventually relocated to the Colwood Golf Club, and resided at 1131 Lyall Street when he died in 1969.
In 1942, the golf course and club house were expropriated and purchased by the Federal Government and became part of Work Point Barracks, Camp Macaulay and Macaulay Plains in terms of reference. On September 2, 1986, all the lands at Work Point and the Macaulay areas were consolidated into one lot owned by the Federal Government, with the Department of National Defence remaining the custodial department.
A scaled drawing (see image, right) created in 1992 by Jim Findlay, a resident of Esquimalt at the time, shows the layout of the course including greens and tee box locations.
Adjacent to “Golf Hill” is an open area that was probably the location of the 7th tee box. One photograph of Col. Peter’s house on Smith (Peters) Street reveals a flag in front of the house indicating the par 5 - 7th fairway.
It may be a surprise to see that the majority of the golf links were situated north of Munro Street partially on Macaulay Plains and continuing to Lyall Street, not actually at Macaulay Point. With Macaulay Point being a recognized rural address of geographical reference in the early days, it seemed logical to utilize the name.
The only reminder of the days of the United Services Golf Links / Macaulay Point Golf Club is “Golf Hill,” shown on all maps, (now an abandoned WW II Artillery Battery), and your imagination as to where the nine holes and club house existed.
One civilian house remains in proximity to the golf course and that is the house at 1024 Munro Street. Once owned by Major George Sisman, who was secretary and neighbourhood warden of the Macaulay Point Golf Club for many years, it is in the background of a number of Macaulay Plains photographs. Other houses “in play” were the Jardine house, 316 Anson Street; the Buxton house at 966 Bewdley Avenue; and the Peters house at 423 Peters Street, all three now a matter of history.