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The Hollinger Golf Club has 'become a home' for many in its 100 years (6 photos)

Timmins golf and mining history forever linked

Golfers have good reason to celebrate their links with Timmins’ history this year. The Hollinger Golf Club is marking its 100th anniversary in 2022. And there are major celebrations in the works to mark the centennial.

Not surprisingly, like other sports and cultural activities, the history of golf is tied closely to mining in the City With a Heart of Gold.

“The whole story of the Hollinger itself, it’s kind of changed a little bit,” said Taylor Dupuis, general manager of golf operations at the Hollinger Golf Club. “Originally, back in 1922, it was the mine that opened the golf course.

“They wanted to attract employees and give their employees something to do. That went on for a good 50, 52 years until they had to sell the golf club to the membership.”

The course was originally called the Timmins Golf Club, but its moniker changed when it was sold by the mine.

When the plans for the course and clubhouse were announced in 1922, the news generated a lot of excitement. According to the March 22, 1922 edition of The Porcupine Advance, “a large and enthusiastic crowd” attended the meeting where plans were unveiled.

“Work on the new clubhouse will be started at once and carried along to completion at an early date,” the story read. “On account of its elevation, it will command a view of practically the whole golf course.

“The building will be a roomy one-and-a-half storey structure. The main floor will be for the use of the club and the upstairs for the accommodation of the permanent caretaker and his wife. There will be a 12-foot verandah around three sides of the building. Two large and comfortable rest and recreation rooms will be included, one of these being for ladies and the other for the gentlemen. Each of these rooms will have an equipment of lockers for the members.

“There will also be an equipment of shower baths, sanitary conveniences, etc., as well as a kitchenette on the main floor. Card tables, etc., will also likely for part of the equipment and the members are very naturally looking forward to the new clubhouse as a decided acquisition and one that promises much pleasure and convenience.”

On Aug. 91922, the Hollinger Mine opened a nine-hole golf course. Employees, personnel and the general public had access to the course.

This special date is, of course, being recognized in celebrations this summer, with a few surprises.

“Our plan is we’re going to have a celebration week,” Dupuis said. “The week of Aug. 7-14 is going to be our 100th anniversary week. It’s going to be filled with events to celebrate. We’ll have our Tuesday ladies’ night, Wednesday men’s night, the Sunday prior we’ll have a brunch, Thursday morning ladies, and Friday we’re going to have a special event that we can’t reveal too much about.

“Throughout the year there are some things planned … some merchandise and miscellaneous items people will get a chance to have.”

There will also be a chance for golfers to celebrate with their brethren across the country.

“There’s a tournament for centennial clubs,” he explained. “For all the golf courses in Canada turning 100 this year, there’s a virtual event. We’re going to participate.

“All the centennial clubs will play golf at the same time at their own course and report their scores online. So, all the centennial clubs will be competing against each other all day.”

The course remained nine holes when the mine sold the course to the membership in 1974 and the name was changed to the Hollinger Golf Club. In 2001, the course expanded to a beautiful 18-hole design. In 2008, Dr. Antonio Kos purchased the Hollinger Golf Club from the membership.

As recently as last year, history was made at the club.

“The Hollinger Golf Club played host for the 2021 Golf Canada NextGen Fall Series East Championships,” Dupuis said. It was “a first for any Timmins golf course to welcome a nationally sanctioned event to the area.”

The establishment of a new program in 2021 helped bring a new generation of golfers to the club.

“Last year, we did a great job at building a new foundation for our junior program here and we're excited about the direction that our junior golf is heading,” he said. “This will continue to be a big focus for us moving forward as our juniors are the future of the Hollinger.”

The club also has a rich history of women’s golf.

“It’s interesting. Even now our women golfers are very present here,” he said. “Our ladies’ nights are always full with 80 to 100 ladies. We kind of make the joke that they run the show here.

“It’s interesting because if you go back, at one point when it was a nine-hole course the membership was dominated by ladies. I don’t know if that’s a historical thing, but it seems like the Hollinger has always been very female dominant, which, especially with golf, that’s pretty rare to see.”

Mix in the long-time members, and Hollinger Golf Club has a great cross section in terms of age and gender.

“Many of our members were members at the nine-hole course and continue to be members here today,” Dupuis said. “Despite being privately owned, the Hollinger Golf Course is member and community focused, which is why I believe we're able to build on the great foundation that's been there so long.”

When pandemic restrictions were eased, golfers flocked back to the course.

“With COVID last year, the golf industry kind of took off,” he said. “This place was crazy with the number of people coming out, the number of green fee players. I think we did a great job last year at providing a safe environment.

“We kind of gained momentum. So, it works well that we’re celebrating the centennial this year and hope to carry that momentum into this year and have another very good year and have some fun.”

The centennial also marks Timmins’ 100-year-old love affair with the sport.

“I think what originally started as something to attract people, it turned into a staple item for people in Timmins,” Dupuis said. “Everything that a golf course has, the friendships, the camaraderie, the competition. With Timmins being the sports town that it is and the history that it has, golf has become a staple in here.

“Anytime you get a chance to be outside in Northern Ontario, with our landscape here, people enjoy coming out and getting away from everything for four or five hours. The environment here and on the course is what keeps people coming back.

“Over the years, this has become a home for a lot of people.”