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. Patrick's Day bonspiel in March and the national amateur women's golf championship in August. Photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram
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.