The Making of the Abitibi Golf Club
In 1920, the ABITIBI PAPER COMPANY decided that they wanted to build a golf course and some tennis courts for its employees and the Community of Iroquois Falls. They searched for the right architect, and found a Scottish designer with some great experience. His name, William (Willie) Park Jr.
(4 February 1864 – 22 May 1925) was a Scottish professional golfer. He won The Open Championship not once but twice. Park was also a successful golf equipment maker and golf writer. In his later years, Park built a significant career as one of the world's best golf course architects, with a worldwide business. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2013
Park caddied and played golf professionally, in stakes matches and
tournaments, from his mid-teens. He developed his golf skills and
played in his first Open Championship in 1880, at age 16, at which
time he was already one of Scotland's best players. He worked in
the family golf equipment business. Park won the Open in 1887 and
1889. In the latter year he was taken to a playoff by Andrew Kirkaldy.
During his competitive career, Park placed in the top ten 12 times
at the Open and was out of the top eight only twice between 1881 and
1892. He was notable for his excellent short game, which compensated
for a sometimes-unreliable long game. He is famous for the saying:
"A man who can putt is a match for anyone."
In 1886, at 22, he laid out his first course at Innerleithen. He did not charge a fee, but instead obtained a preferential ‘franchise’ for the supply of William Park and Sons clubs to members. Fortunately for the profession, course design as a loss leader did not catch on! But it was the start of Willie’s rise to prominence in course design.
His legacy may be as significant to the overall history of golf architecture as his designs. His work at Sunningdale and Huntercombe inspired Colt, Abercrombie and many others. They demonstrated that successful new golf development of the highest quality was possible on inland sites. His work in America and Canada confirmed his position as the father of golf course architecture. Inevitably it is his built legacy for which he will be remembered, and it is a testament to the quality of his courses that so many remain relatively unchanged. Gullane, Huntercombe, Sunningdale, Mount Bruno, Ottawa, the Maidstone, Olympia Fields, Royal Antwerp, Mont Agel, Killarney and many others are a substantial legacy, but so too are lesser known gems, such as Silloth, Kilspindie, Aldburgh, Temple and Stoneham, where the great Willie Park encourages lesser mortals to practice the art of the possible in subtly considered landscapes, and to achieve, from time to time, those satisfying moments of unimportant personal greatness.
Abitibi Golf Club article, May 1920 Canadian Golfer magazine, page 84
Abitibi Golf Club article, Jul 1920 Canadian Golfer magazine, page 186
Abitibi Golf Club article, Jan 1921 Canadian Golfer magazine, page 657 & 658
Abitibi Golf Club article, 14 Feb 1921 Calgary, Canada Herald newspaper
Willie Park Jr. golf courses early 1920s advertisement
Willie Park Jr. photo, 1894 Golfer's Guide to the Game and Greens of Scotland
Abitibi Golf Club article, Jan 1929 Canadian Golfer magazine, page 741
Abitibi Golf Club article, Jan 1929 Canadian Golfer magazine, page 742