A moment in history: June 26, 1946

A moment in history: June 26, 1946

· The Pulse

On this day in 1946, the Mayfair Golf and Country Club was preparing to host the Canadian Amateur Golf Tournament.

The idea for the club began in 1920. The creators tucked the course into a bend near the North Saskatchewan River, northwest of the University of Alberta campus. Originally, the land they used was planned as a residential neighbourhood named Mayfair, but it has never been developed. (The former Mayfair Park, now named William Hawrelak Park, was similarly built on a never-built subdivision directly south of the golf course).

J. Munro Hunter, a celebrated local golfer, designed the original Mayfair course. It opened in 1922, with then-Edmonton Mayor David Milwyn Duggan taking the first tee-off.

In the 1920s, golf was growing in popularity, and cities across Canada were building new courses. But the owners of the Mayfair knew they needed something to set their course apart. So, only a few years after the course opened, they had legendary golf architect Stanley Thompson redesign it. Thompson's talent won him international acclaim, with his work appearing on courses in Canada (including the Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course), the United States, Brazil, and Jamaica.

Although the Mayfair has renovated some of the holes that Thompson created, many still bear his original designs. Golfers still come to the course for this feature to this day.

With its Thompson-designed holes, the Mayfair has hosted some major tournaments over the past century. It hosted the Canadian Open in 1958, and was the site of the LPGA Canada Women's Open in 2007 and 2013. Golf legend Arnold Palmer also played the Mayfair in 1980, when he won the Canadian PGA Championship.

The Mayfair became the Royal Mayfair in 2005, as part of Alberta's centennial celebrations. But the course already had a long history of hosting nobility. The first royals to play it were the future King Edward VIII (then the Prince of Wales) and his brother, George, in 1927. Queen Elizabeth and the Royal Family held a lunch at the country club when visiting Edmonton for the 1978 Commonwealth Games. And most recently, in 2002, Prince Michael of Kent held a dinner at the course.

In 2019, the Royal Mayfair entered negotiations to renew its lease with the City of Edmonton. This sparked a debate about access to Edmonton's golf courses and its river valley. The Mayfair resides on 72 hectares of city-owned land, but the club is private. The club has roughly 475 full members, who in 2019 paid around $40,000 in upfront fees and $10,000 annually. The negotiations led to demands the city allow more public use for such important land, as well as a call for more transparency. The voices included Coun. Michael Janz. In the end, the city extended the Royal Mayfair's lease for another 18 years.

The Mayfair's lease extension didn't end debate, however. In 2021, a business analysis recommended the City of Edmonton lease out its three remaining municipally-owned golf courses to save money. And earlier this spring, Coun. Janz returned to the issue, suggesting some Edmonton golf courses should be repurposed. Finally, in June, an EPCOR report suggested the City of Edmonton and some golf courses are not paying water-drainage bills at several sites, but did not specify which golf courses.

This clipping was found on Vintage Edmonton, a daily look at Edmonton's history from armchair archivist @revRecluse of @VintageEdmonton.