Founding of the Nova Scotia Golf Association (NSGA)

(from the archives of the NSGA)

 
The decision to establish the NSGA was a direct result of the desire to have a provincial golf championship. When in 1927, the first Amateur Championship was hosted by Brightwood Golf & Country Club, Dartmouth; it was initially promoted as a Halifax County championship, but within days quickly expanded to include the entire province. However, the event still lacked status and was looked upon by many as merely a warm up for the prestigious Maritime Amateur Golf Championship, which dated from 1911. At the 1927 gathering an informal meeting was held to consider the advisability of forming a province wide association. The President of Abercrombie Golf Club, near New Glasgow, W.H. (William Hugh "Will") Ross (1886 - 1973), was elected provisional president and Lee D. Payzant, Abercrombie, was named provisional secretary. They were directed to solicit opinions from golf clubs throughout the province and to report back to the 1928 Amateur which was to be hosted by Abercrombie. Thus began the early tradition of the President of the NSGA being from the club which hosted the Amateur. 
 
In 1928 the Halifax Herald reported that the golfers were "discussing the advisability of forming a Nova Scotia Golf Association with a view to perpetuating the tournament the newspaper donated the Halifax Herald and Evening Mail Shield. The matter was discussed at length at Abercrombie and it was finally decided to appoint a committee to consider invitations for the 1929 provincial meet, and in the meantime plans for the organization may be held up until such time as particulars in the deed of gift are considered by the committee." A committee consisting of Gerald Mielke, Brightwood Golf & Country Club, Dartmouth; Parker Laidlaw, Gorsebrook Golf Club, Halifax; Dr. G. H. Rice, Halifax Golf and Country Club (Ashburn), Halifax; J.A. Adamson, Pictou Golf & Country Club, Pictou and H. M. Ferguson, Truro Golf Club, Truro was struck with power to add a President, Vice President and Secretary from the club hosting the 1929 event. The Committee did not meet following the 1928 competition but a consensus emerged that an invitation from the Lingan Golf & Country Club to host the 1929 Amateur be accepted. 
 
In 1929 the competitors met at the Isle Royale Hotel, Sydney. A new executive was elected with directions to circularize all sixteen golf clubs in the province "...with the aim in view of completing a Nova Scotia Golf Association. The executive consisted of Frank L. Lewis, Truro Golf Club, Truro, Provincial President; Gerald Curran Mielke (1901 - 1990), Brightwood Golf & Country Club, Dartmouth; D. Leo Dolan and W. S. Graham, Halifax Golf & Country Club (Ashburn), Halifax; Don J. Buckley, Lingan Golf & Country Club, Sydney and Malcolm Martin (1869 - 1951), Highlands Golf Club, Dominion. The meeting was presided over by Judge Walter Crowe (1861 – 1934), Lingan Golf & Country Club, Sydney, the "Father of Nova Scotia Golf." The golfers determined that a Professional Division would be part of the championship, thus ensuring all the top players in Nova Scotia were present for the event. 
 
The new Executive announced that the Amateur championship would be a two-day tournament of 72 holes medal play. It further announced the RCGA rules would govern play. The lowest gross score would be the winner. The Shield would be held at the club of the champion for one year. The maximum handicap allowed would be 20 but those with higher handicaps could enter but at a handicap of 20. Players were limited to one prize in the championship competition. Prizes included - sealed hole- best four round total; longest drive on a designated hole; all eagles; best net prize for those at the 20 handicap maximum. 
 
As the Amateur Championship at Truro approached, it became apparent than an overall body was directing events. A major addition to the 1930 championship, the first over superintended by a recognized provincial body, the Nova Scotia Golf Association, was the decision to have a prize for the best four-man team from a given club. Frank Lewis, first President of the NSGA, kept a firm hand on events, with the result that the largest field ever to compete for a provincial men’s championship gathered at Truro, 47 amateurs and 4 professionals. Fittingly the first NSGA sponsored provincial championship turned out to be a battle between the Mielke brothers of Brightwood Golf & Country Club, Dartmouth, Frederick Charles "Frank" Mielke (1886 – 1975) won the event with a total of 314, a 3 shot margin over his brother. The next competitor was fifteen shots back of the runner up. Between them Frank would win four Amateurs (1927; 1930; 1935; 1939) and brother Gerald two (1928; 1931). As well they dominated the Maritime Amateur Golf Championship with a total of eight titles between 1920 and 1930. (Frank – 1923; 1925); (Gerald – 1920-1922; 1924; 1926; 1928; 1930). 
 
The NSGA developed a rather straightforward administrative structure. The President and Secretary came from the host club for the Amateur the following year. If there were other responsibilities which fell upon the shoulders of this rather small executive, time has clouded their existence. However, in a field which averaged only 38 for the period 1927 – 1939, the responsibilities were not onerous. Last minute entries were permitted and the field usually consisted of "two-somes" at eight-minute intervals. The fact that thirty-six holes could be played in a day, with a lunch break, suggests that the competitors stuck to their business and none had obviously ever seen a televised professional event. However, the NSGA may have become complacent with its early successes for the 1937 Amateur drew only 24 golfers to The Pines, Digby Golf Club, Digby, and in pouring rain, only 9 players competed in the final eighteen holes. F. Homer Zwicker, President of the Bluenose Golf Club, Lunenburg, vigorously protested the lack of notice concerning the event. The situation may have led in 1938 to the first and only time match play was used to determine a Nova Scotia Amateur champion. However, the match play concept proved popular as it drew 40 players to the Liverpool Golf Club, Hunts Point. Surprisingly when the NSGA brought the Amateur back to Halifax in 1939, the field comprised only 43 participants. The 1940 Amateur was slated for The Pines, Digby Golf Club, Digby but the outbreak of World War II cancelled that event and the next championship would not be staged until 1947. 
 
With the cessation of the war, the reorganization of the NSGA lagged behind the enthusiasm of the local golfers. Neighboring New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island who had a joint association, and had competed for their championship throughout the war years, agreed to permit Nova Scotia golfers to compete in their 1946 championships. The result was that a youthful Nova Scotia junior, Ashburn’s Peter Doig, captured the NB-PEI Junior Championship in 1946. This anomaly may have hastened the resuscitation of the NSGA. In August 1946, when the Maritime Seniors’ Golf Association met at Digby, a meeting was convened of 11 Nova Scotia Clubs. Frank Robertson, Saint John, NB, second vice-president of the RCGA, addressed the meeting and pointed out Nova Scotia was the only province in Canada without a provincial body. Some Nova Scotia clubs had even joined the NB-PEI association in order that their members might participate in major golfing events hosted by that association. A committee of George A. Moffatt, Halifax Golf & Country Club (Ashburn), Halifax; H.J. Cann, Brightwood Golf & Country Club, Dartmouth; and George Edgar Graham (1870 – 1953), Ken-Wo Country Club, New Minas was directed to contact clubs with a view to reconstituting the NSGA. The following clubs were represented at these preliminary discussions – Amherst GC; Bluenose GC; Bridgewater GC; Ken-Wo GC; Abercrombie GC; Lingan GC; Liverpool GC; Brightwood GC and Ashburn GC. 
 
The 1947 NS Amateur was played at the Halifax Golf & Country Club (Ashburn), July 21 – 24, The field consisted of 143 participants (including a division of 7 professionals). Fifteen clubs were represented. The title was eventually captured by 23-year-old Dalhousie University Commerce student, Eddie Crowell, with rounds of 68-71-213 over the par 67 layout. It also featured the first ever wash out of a round in the history of the NS Amateur. The runner-up was the ubiquitous junior from Ashburn, Peter Doig, who captured the Junior title. 
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