100 years and counting

Darcy MacRae
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Bally Haly Golf and Curling Club celebrating historic birthday in style

The Bally Haly Golf and Curling Club recently began celebrating its 100th anniversary. The historic birthday will be celebrated over the next 10 months with a number of special events, including the provincial women's curling championship in January, a St

When a birthday is this special, a one-night celebration just isn't enough. That's why the Bally Haly Golf and Curling Club in St. John's is going to use the next 10 months to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the club's opening.
"We've got events planned every month of the season," said Bruce Crichton, Bally Haly's general manager. "And we want to take the regular events we hold every year to a new, more exciting level."
The 100th anniversary celebrations began last Friday when Bally Haly held its annual opening ceremonies. The club used the occasion to unveil a mascot and give new and former members a chance to get to know one another. A fire works display capped off the evening, and according to Crichton, were only the beginning of a very exciting year at Bally Haly.
Coming up in December the club will hold a Victorian Christmas party for its members, a family oriented event, said Crichton. In January the 2008 provincial senior women's curling championship goes at Bally Haly and in March the club hosts a St. Patrick's Day bonspiel. The celebrations continue into the summer when Bally Haly hosts the national senior women's amateur golf championship in August, followed by a gala in September that will serve as one final toast to the 100th anniversary of the club.
"We went after these events specifically because we are celebrating our 100th anniversary," said Crichton.
One of the best aspects of the celebrations, according to Crichton, is that members from different generations will have the opportunity to meet and discuss the games of curling and golf. Already a sense of nostalgia has made its way into the club and the festivities have only just begun.
"The other day I was leaving work when an elderly man came in with a photo taken at the club 40 years ago. He's not even a member of the club any more, but he wanted people to be able to see what things looked like 40 years ago," said Crichton.
According to Bally Haly's web site (www.ballyhaly.com), the founding of the club was largely due to the efforts of John Browning, who many credit with pioneering golf in this province. He founded the nine-hole Newfoundland Golf Club at Buckmasters Field in 1896 and was the organization's first president. By 1908, the Buckmasters course had very little, if any, room for expansion so Browning began working toward finding a better location.
Soon he convinced the executive of the Newfoundland Golf Club to purchase property in the east end of St. John's on which a new, expanded course could be built. The land is the current site of the Bally Haly Golf and Curling Club, property that at one time was owned by Lieutenant Colonel William Haly of the British Army, a former president of the Council of Newfoundland.
The sale of the property was finalized on Nov. 17, 1908, with Browning serving as the new club's first president. The new course had 18 holes and membership soon grew to 350. A fire destroyed the clubhouse in December, 1936, but a new one was constructed and officially opened in May, 1937. The clubhouse was again destroyed by fire in 1957, but because the demand for golf was so great a new one was constructed immediately. That was also the same year curling facilities were added at Bally Haly, making it a year-round club.
Today there are approximately 1,200 members at Bally Haly.
For much of the past 25 years, rumours have swirled that the club is for sale. To this day, there is talk Bally Haly could relocate to the west end of St. John's, but it's not something that's going to happen any time soon, says Crichton.
"We hear it too. Our members hear it and we hear it from our members," said Crichton. "There was talk maybe 25 years ago to relocate the club to another part of the city, sell the club to a developer and relocate, but at the end of the day the club decided not to do it. Today, it's just rumours. There's nothing to it anymore."
Just prior to becoming the Ball Haly Golf and Curling Club, the property was used as a summer retreat for city folk who wanted to experience country living. The land was managed by a magistrate who had a military background and he often held mock military exercises on the grounds, going as far as to install firing trenches, even if the only guns on site were made of wood.
As for the name of the current golf and curling club, Haly comes from the former property owner Lieutenant Colonel William Haly, while Bally is a Gaelic word that means settlement of place. The name Bally Haly roughly means The Haly Place.
dmacrae@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Bally Haly Golf and Curling Club, Newfoundland Golf Club, British Army Council of Newfoundland Ball Haly Golf and Curling Club

Geographic location: St. John's, Haly Place

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Recent comments

  • fred
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    Ted,
    Unfortunately, it takes a lot of money to run a golf course. Fertilizers alone will cost in excess of $150,000. Specialized equipment, such as mowers cost up to $70,000 per unit, Then you have to pay staff, taxes, upkeep of the equipment and building. As well, the season here is extremely short.

  • Ted
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    This is not directed at just Bally Haly but all the golf courses here in St. John's / Avalon. The prices these places charge are outrageous. Corner Brook, Gander and Grand Falls charge considerably lower green feees compared to Avalon courses.

    Furthermore, courses in the Maratimes are cheaper again. Stop fleezing the public and charge fair green fees.

    There are countless NFLD companies that charge outrageious prices for their goods / services. Then, when an american giant comes in with lower prices the local business owners are all up-in-arms about it. One weekend recently, there was low price sporting good for sale in a local hotel. St. john's sports store owners werea ll upset about the competition.... well if they weren't fleezing the captive market here for years perhaps they would fare bettrer when competitors come in. food for thought.

  • Jane
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    I have golfed at most golf courses in Newfoundland and it is my opinion that Bally Haly should be ranked #1. The course is in fabulous shape since they put in the irrigation system and it is well looked after.

    As for the building, granted the facilities are not brand new however the atmosphere in their club house more than makes up for what it lacks in decor.

  • Robert
    July 02, 2010 - 13:28

    At least you can still play golf during October, November and December. I was in St John's last Christmas and people were still golfing just before Christmas. Try that in northern Alberta.

    I've played golf in most provinces in Canada and the green fee prices for Avalon cources are, I think, are fair for the quality of the courses.

    I agree with NO Name from Alberta, I was very disappointed in the club house for Bally Hally. For a course that should be the corner stone for golf in this area, you get a bad impression the first time visit the course.

  • Jason
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    When I look back at golf courses that I have played, I remember certain holes or certain shots that I did (or did not) make. It's those images that I talk about and not in respect to the condition of the clubhouse. Yes, it is not as modern as newer facilities that I have played, but this is a character course with a character clubhouse. Given the rates, location and the course conditon, I believe this is a great facility. Playing in Ontario, you pay so much more per round and for Baly Haly rates, you can't beat it. It's a must play course that once you play it, you will forget the clubhouse and remember the great course and scenic city views.

  • Ted
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    Fred, Thanks for proving my point... The courses are on other parts of the island aare using the same equipment and fertilizers, etc, yet they still manage to charge lower green fees than ones on the Avalon. Go figure?

    As for the the rates being fair.. Here's Some prices from the Maratimes.. I could go on and on... Not to mention the respective costs for emeberships compared to those offered here in NFLD.

    Amherst Golf Club, NS = June 1 - Sept
    21 $42.00

    Annapolis, Golf Club, NS = 18 HOLES $35-00

    Coyote Golf club, NS $29.50 - 18 holes

  • No Name
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    I agree with Ted that a little healthy competition is a good thing for NL consumers. The lack of business competition (ie. car dealerships, retail) means that the consumer is left with very little choice. A good example was when Kent had to open it's doors on Sunday's to keep up with the competition at the new Home Depot. It was never a priority in the past for it's consumers, but once some competition comes to the island, well then they have to step up their business practices...

    On to Bally Hally...maybe they should spend a couple of $$ on that place so that the establishment doesn't look 100 years old...

  • Anselm
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    I live in Washington, DC and to play a nice course down here its cost between $75-125 (getting as good as what you pay for). There are a few dog tracks for less but it could take you 6-7 hours to finish a round.

    I guess, it has a lot has to do with demand. Even at those prices it is always hard to get a tee time and if they can fill up the starters time card at that price then why not.

    However that said, I totally agree with most on if you are going to charge high prices then your club house should reflect the cost.

  • Al
    July 02, 2010 - 13:16

    I believe green fees on the Avalon are fair. I've played alot of golf in Halifax and on PEI & the cost there is higher. The problem we have on the east coast of the province is the quality of golf. Terra Nova, Clovelly's Osprey, and the Wild's are quality courses with Bally Hally (I believe ranked 4th). The mess that was made of the Pippy Park's Admiral's Green course when the holes were chopped up by the City Council, the Pippy Park Commission, demands by the course's neighbours.....or whoever is responsible, leaves most golfers more comfortable with playing the mini golf next to the Holiday Inn. The Woods....well, they have had their problems & with some luck & alot of work will be a quality track in a couple of years.

    As far as the golf equipment on sale recently at a local hotel.....from what I saw it was hardly on sale & very much second rate knock off equipment. The local retailers should be more concerned with online American golf warehouses with the dollar the way it is!

    After all of that .....congrats to Bally Hally on 100 years.

  • Ted
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    I'm not sure what the hang-up is with the club-house issue. I play to enjoy the game, not the club-house... If I wanted to lounge around all day with a few overweight old geezers, then why not just go to a sports bar? The clubhouse, in my opinion, is only incidental to those who truly love the game.

  • Al
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    Ted....I would love to see the cost of playing golf on the Avalon drop....it would save me a bunch of money each year. However, compare apples to apples. Compare a similar courses to Clovelly Osprey in other parts of the Atlantic Provinces. Anderson's Creek in PEI, $55 - 75, Bell Bay in Cape Breton $65 - 79, Oakfield in Halifax $75. If you want $40. golf, Pippy Park is what you get.

  • fred
    July 01, 2010 - 20:24

    Ted,
    Unfortunately, it takes a lot of money to run a golf course. Fertilizers alone will cost in excess of $150,000. Specialized equipment, such as mowers cost up to $70,000 per unit, Then you have to pay staff, taxes, upkeep of the equipment and building. As well, the season here is extremely short.

  • Ted
    July 01, 2010 - 20:21

    This is not directed at just Bally Haly but all the golf courses here in St. John's / Avalon. The prices these places charge are outrageous. Corner Brook, Gander and Grand Falls charge considerably lower green feees compared to Avalon courses.

    Furthermore, courses in the Maratimes are cheaper again. Stop fleezing the public and charge fair green fees.

    There are countless NFLD companies that charge outrageious prices for their goods / services. Then, when an american giant comes in with lower prices the local business owners are all up-in-arms about it. One weekend recently, there was low price sporting good for sale in a local hotel. St. john's sports store owners werea ll upset about the competition.... well if they weren't fleezing the captive market here for years perhaps they would fare bettrer when competitors come in. food for thought.

  • Jane
    July 01, 2010 - 20:17

    I have golfed at most golf courses in Newfoundland and it is my opinion that Bally Haly should be ranked #1. The course is in fabulous shape since they put in the irrigation system and it is well looked after.

    As for the building, granted the facilities are not brand new however the atmosphere in their club house more than makes up for what it lacks in decor.

  • Robert
    July 01, 2010 - 20:16

    At least you can still play golf during October, November and December. I was in St John's last Christmas and people were still golfing just before Christmas. Try that in northern Alberta.

    I've played golf in most provinces in Canada and the green fee prices for Avalon cources are, I think, are fair for the quality of the courses.

    I agree with NO Name from Alberta, I was very disappointed in the club house for Bally Hally. For a course that should be the corner stone for golf in this area, you get a bad impression the first time visit the course.

  • Jason
    July 01, 2010 - 20:13

    When I look back at golf courses that I have played, I remember certain holes or certain shots that I did (or did not) make. It's those images that I talk about and not in respect to the condition of the clubhouse. Yes, it is not as modern as newer facilities that I have played, but this is a character course with a character clubhouse. Given the rates, location and the course conditon, I believe this is a great facility. Playing in Ontario, you pay so much more per round and for Baly Haly rates, you can't beat it. It's a must play course that once you play it, you will forget the clubhouse and remember the great course and scenic city views.

  • Ted
    July 01, 2010 - 20:02

    Fred, Thanks for proving my point... The courses are on other parts of the island aare using the same equipment and fertilizers, etc, yet they still manage to charge lower green fees than ones on the Avalon. Go figure?

    As for the the rates being fair.. Here's Some prices from the Maratimes.. I could go on and on... Not to mention the respective costs for emeberships compared to those offered here in NFLD.

    Amherst Golf Club, NS = June 1 - Sept
    21 $42.00

    Annapolis, Golf Club, NS = 18 HOLES $35-00

    Coyote Golf club, NS $29.50 - 18 holes

  • No Name
    July 01, 2010 - 20:01

    I agree with Ted that a little healthy competition is a good thing for NL consumers. The lack of business competition (ie. car dealerships, retail) means that the consumer is left with very little choice. A good example was when Kent had to open it's doors on Sunday's to keep up with the competition at the new Home Depot. It was never a priority in the past for it's consumers, but once some competition comes to the island, well then they have to step up their business practices...

    On to Bally Hally...maybe they should spend a couple of $$ on that place so that the establishment doesn't look 100 years old...

  • Anselm
    July 01, 2010 - 20:01

    I live in Washington, DC and to play a nice course down here its cost between $75-125 (getting as good as what you pay for). There are a few dog tracks for less but it could take you 6-7 hours to finish a round.

    I guess, it has a lot has to do with demand. Even at those prices it is always hard to get a tee time and if they can fill up the starters time card at that price then why not.

    However that said, I totally agree with most on if you are going to charge high prices then your club house should reflect the cost.

  • Al
    July 01, 2010 - 19:56

    I believe green fees on the Avalon are fair. I've played alot of golf in Halifax and on PEI & the cost there is higher. The problem we have on the east coast of the province is the quality of golf. Terra Nova, Clovelly's Osprey, and the Wild's are quality courses with Bally Hally (I believe ranked 4th). The mess that was made of the Pippy Park's Admiral's Green course when the holes were chopped up by the City Council, the Pippy Park Commission, demands by the course's neighbours.....or whoever is responsible, leaves most golfers more comfortable with playing the mini golf next to the Holiday Inn. The Woods....well, they have had their problems & with some luck & alot of work will be a quality track in a couple of years.

    As far as the golf equipment on sale recently at a local hotel.....from what I saw it was hardly on sale & very much second rate knock off equipment. The local retailers should be more concerned with online American golf warehouses with the dollar the way it is!

    After all of that .....congrats to Bally Hally on 100 years.

  • Ted
    July 01, 2010 - 19:55

    I'm not sure what the hang-up is with the club-house issue. I play to enjoy the game, not the club-house... If I wanted to lounge around all day with a few overweight old geezers, then why not just go to a sports bar? The clubhouse, in my opinion, is only incidental to those who truly love the game.

  • Al
    July 01, 2010 - 19:49

    Ted....I would love to see the cost of playing golf on the Avalon drop....it would save me a bunch of money each year. However, compare apples to apples. Compare a similar courses to Clovelly Osprey in other parts of the Atlantic Provinces. Anderson's Creek in PEI, $55 - 75, Bell Bay in Cape Breton $65 - 79, Oakfield in Halifax $75. If you want $40. golf, Pippy Park is what you get.