What Knowlton needs is a good golf course.
Those words were uttered by Mary Maud Foster at one of the two informal meetings held at her house – she was married to Senator G.G. Foster – to establish the Knowlton Golf Club, which this year is celebrating its 100th anniversary.
The idea of a golf club first originated with the Knowlton Board of Trade in the Fall of 1919. Many of the men or their sons and daughters had just returned from the First World War battlefields. These people yearned for a return to normalcy. What could be more civilized than the game of golf?
The popularity of golf exploded in North America in the two decades before World War I. Golf clubs in the Townships were formed at Lennoxville and Sherbrooke in 1896 and 1897. Granby Miner and Waterville followed within five years. The Knowlton Golf Club committee hired golf pro Albert Murray to find the most suitable property. Murray won the Canadian Open twice. The property he chose was once the residence of John Baillie, whose house had burned down a few years earlier. Albert Murray, said: “… the Baillie property was ideal and had certain novel features which made it exceptionally desirable.”
Construction of the course, as laid out by Albert Murray, was started in the fall of 1920 with the clearing away of buildings, fences, and laying out the greens. Some essential course maintenance equipment was acquired, but sheep did the heavy work for the first two seasons. A modest clubhouse was built on the foundations of the former Baillie home,
The big day for the formal opening of the club was July 1, 1921, and John Baillie, the principal benefactor of the club and an Honorary Vice President, drove the ball from hole number one. Knowlton was a 9-hole golf course, though there was discussion about expanding it to 18 holes as early as 1923. That would not happen for almost 70 years.
At the start, there were 100 members. Only 39 were not Montreal residents, and of those, 25 were from Knowlton, nine from Sutton and one overseas member, Louis Pratt, was from Paris.
The Knowlton Golf Club’s biggest change came in 2002 when after decades of debate, it became an 18-hole golf course. This transformed the club. It is now less local than it used to be, but it is, without doubt, one of the most beautiful golf courses in Canada, and when it is dressed in its fall colours, it must be classed as number one.