Ada Mackenzie Adds to Her Laurels

Generally, One Does Not Associate Sport with Business Acumen, yet the Accompanying Account of the Achievements of a Famous Canadian Woman Golfer Would Seem to Show That They are Natural Corollaries

GERTRUDE E. S. PRINGLE September 15 1925

Ada Mackenzie Adds to Her Laurels

Generally, One Does Not Associate Sport with Business Acumen, yet the Accompanying Account of the Achievements of a Famous Canadian Woman Golfer Would Seem to Show That They are Natural Corollaries

GERTRUDE E. S. PRINGLE September 15 1925

Ada Mackenzie Adds to Her Laurels

Generally, One Does Not Associate Sport with Business Acumen, yet the Accompanying Account of the Achievements of a Famous Canadian Woman Golfer Would Seem to Show That They are Natural Corollaries



WHEN Miss Ada Mackenzie started out a year ago to sell one thousand dollar bonds, with the object of financing an $85,000 golf and country club exclusively for women members, she was met with many objections and doubts. "Times are hard and money tight,” she was told. "There are enough golf clubs in Toronto already,” others declared. “How can women pay big enough fees to carry a club?” doubted some. “Golf clubs cannot be considered an investment,” was another objection. To such cautious

souls, it was like being offered shares in a castle in Spain.

The hero in the old fairy-tale when ordered to perform some such task as scale a mountain of glass or count the stars in the sky, always managed to do the trick with the aid of a magic talisman or beneficent gnome. But no element of luck or fortuitous circumstance helped Miss Mackenzie. Pure grit and determination only can explain her remarkable feat in planning, organizing and financing the Ladies’ Golf and Tennis Club, the first country club for women in Canada and the second in America. And it is no mean creation this. It well holds its own on every count with the twenty odd other golf and country clubs that already serve Toronto. Although the plan involved the obtaining of a large sum, and many difficult conditions had to be overcome, she carried out her project successfully and within the time limit appointed.

On a perfect June day, when the Ladies’ Golf and Tennis Club held an informal housewarming for members and their friends, with the official opening schedules for the early Autumn, tours of inspection were undertaken over house and grounds. Obviously the fine residence had been built without regard to expense. The one hundred and thirty acres of gently rolling land, with groups of noble trees, sunny uplands, flowing river and dark ravine, were scenically a surprise and a delight, for the Yonge Street entrance gives little hint of the beauties within. On the well-kept lawn, where many took tea and country air together, frocks in every rainbow hue made the scene colorful. But in that bright picture the most simple and unpretentious costume—a white tailored suit—was worn by Miss Ada Mackenzie, who was being felicitated on every side, and whose “day” it undoubtedly was.

It was while on a visit to England, Scotland and Wales five years ago, where she went to play in golf tournaments, that the idea of a golf club exclusively for women took root in Miss Mackenzie’s mind. In the Old Country she found herself at a disadvantage when competing against their experienced players. Eastern Canada’s golfing season is short compared to that of the British Isles, where the royal and ancient game can be played for many months of the year. Then, too, the men’s clubs in Canada of which there 400 with approximately 200,000

members have necessarily many restrictions which limit the women players, so that they cannot get nearly enough practice.

There was but one way by which Canadian girls could offset these drawbacks and develop into good players. With her mind’s eye Miss Mackenzie saw a club exclusively for women, where unrestricted freedom as to hours could be enjoyed. She was looking far into the future then. “I thought of the coming generation,” she explained.

On her return to Canada this idea was uppermost in her thoughts. Evidently, to make up her mind and to achieve what she wills, are one and the same thing with her. And yet, a member of two leading clubs, her time her own, and a little car to take her about, it cannot be said she was thinking of herself.

From childhood she was destined to be a golfer. While yet attending Havergal she was put up for membership in the Toronto Golf Club, and she is also a member of the Mississauga Golf Club. Both her parents play golf. She has perhaps played on more courses than any other Canadian woman golfer. Her favorite is the Newcastle Golf course in County Down, Ireland, “because” she says, “it gives you something hard to do at every hole, and leads you on from difficulty to difficulty.” This is the true sporting spirit. She has the right build for the successful driver—a supple, wellproportioned, muscular but slender body, good height, and easy balanced movements. Her healthy color bespeaks an open air life; her features are neat, her eyes well spaced and thoughtful, while her chin is both delicate and firm.

Miss Mackenzie Plays “Canny”

WHEN Miss Mackenzie talks about a subject in which she is interested she has a very persuasive way with her. One does not wonder she sold those bonds. Her words flow rapidly but evenly, her eyes glow and seem to grow larger and darker, and her face becomes afire with eagerness. But let her tell the story:

“I did not confide my plan to anyone, but when off round the country on tournaments I kept my eye open for something that would be suitable. If it had become known I was searching for a site for a golf course, the price of all.properties would have bounded up. (She has not a Scotch name for nothing). So I had to pretend I was buying a farm, and as I knew nothing about farming, there were some rather amusing complications at times.

“1 didn't consult any agents or lists of properties for sale—just motored about and tramped around until I found what I wanted, then looked up the owner to see if it was for sale.” (It may here be remarked that the Club paid no commission fees in this transaction, either on the purchase of the property or sale of the bonds.)

“As it was essential for a good gou course to have water on it, I followed various rivers along their course, the Humber, the Etobicoke and the ^Don, keeping in mind that easy accessibility to the city by radial or train was necessary. Altogether, I must have gone over quite twenty possible properties and many more which were not poossible. Out ot these 1 found three which were what I wanted.

“The site we were fortunate enough to get—the Watson estate at Thornhill—is ideal. At first the owner was willing to sell only the back portion, with no access to Yonge Street. It took me from May to August before there was any chance of securing the front portion. Indeed for atime it hung in the balance, and just as L

was about to take an option on the next best property, it suddenly came my way. Then I really felt it was meant for us.

“My first step was to call a meeting of women I knew would be interested. After putting the plan before them, I asked if they would support me in the undertaking provided I could raise the necessary money. They all said they would be willing to act.”

Putting the Club Across

WHEN Miss Mackenzie found a committee of influential women was ready to back her, she went right after an option, and secured one for three months. So enthusiastic was she, and so sanguine of success, that she paid for it out of her own pocket. Continuing her story, she remarks:

“As I could not finance it myself, I decided to start off with a bond issue in the form of a mortgage on the property, being guided in this by the advice of prominent business men. If I could not raise the money with a bond issue, I decided not to undertake it. However, the value of the property was sufficient for this I felt.

“First I approached women of means and then the business men. Some were sceptical about my securing enough members. So I said I would get out an application form and booklet describing the proposed club. This I did—it was then about the end of August—and mailed out about five hundred of them to people I thought would be interested.

“Responses began to come in gradually. The money sent in for shares I put in a trust company and held until I got out a charter for the club, my intention being to return it if I didn’t raise enough to finance the undertaking through the sale of the bonds. It was a condition, too, that the bondholders were not to be held to their promise unless the total sum necessary to purchase the property was subscribed for.

“The three months’ option expired on Saturday, November 15, at noon. Even on the Friday night preceding I had to motor out of town to get more subscribers to the bond issue. It was quite exciting, and still more exciting when the cash came in. Exactly at noon on the day and the hour that the option was due, I walked in with marked cheques. But really it had given me very little time. The one thing in my favor was that the property was very valuable.

“It has proved a wonderful buy. We couldn’t have done better years ago, and a lot of people will benefit by it. We have a deep artesian well, electric light and an extremely well-built house with solid brick walls of unusual thickness, hardwood throughout and a tile roof. Therefore we think we have a good chance of success.”

What it Costs

THE spacious residence, it may be remarked, cost $40,000 to build, a few years ago. Not many clubs have a better house than this. The property was first purchased in the name of Miss Ada Mackenzie, who then, for the sum of one dollar, transferred it to the club which under the name of the Ladies’ Golf and Tennis Club is now an incorporated company, Miss Mackenzie being its managing director. The Honorary President is Mrs. Cockshutt, wife of the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, and the President is Lady Baillie.

Three hundred shares were sold at $100 each, and then the price was advanced to $200 a share. Only members are allowed to hold shares, and they are limited to one share apiece. In this way speculation is prevented. Those who buy shares and then on leaving the city wish to dispose of them are protected in as much as they get back the full amount they paid.

During the progress of the bond and j stock selling campaign, Miss Mackenzie addressed the members of the Toronto j Business and Professional Women’s Club, pointing out what an investment in health | membership in such a club would be. Having had a taste of business life in Toronto, when during the War she worked in a bank to release a man for Overseas service, she realizes how much indoor workers need country air and exercise. She would like to see more business women take up golf.

For adult members the annual fees are thirty-five dollars a year. Junior members !

who are between fifteen and twenty years pay an entrance fee and fifteen a year. For children under fifteen the fee is five dollars a year, but they must be accompanied on the links by a member. For out-of-town members the yearly fee is fifteen dollars. The club house is to be run on English lings, with due regard to comfort, but eliminating the luxuries that cause heavy overhead expense.

Laying Out the Course

TOWARD the layout of the course, Miss Mackenzie, who is an acknowledged authority, contributed two plans. She states, “We are having a full championship length constructed, over 6,000 yards. The holes have been worked out especially with regard to woman’s golf. For instance, a woman’s average shot is 175 yards, whereas a man’s is 200. With this difference as a basis an entirely different layout was needed, and a great deal of calculation as to the length between holes was called for. Thirteen holes now are playable and lessons are being given on the practice field by an old country professional. Picnics and teas are also being held. The club is a splendid place for business women to spend weekends in the country, and it will be increasingly valued.

“This year the catering has been let out, the one aim being to make the club house carry itself, and not to make any profit out of it. We have our income then left to keep up the course, pay the interest and general expenses.”

As might be expected with such an enterprising managing director, some new and progressive ideas are being carried out at this club. The greens, for instance, are being planted from stolens for the first time in Canada. Stolens are “creeping bent” grass sods, chopped fine, and planted like seed, and weeds cannot flourish in this fine, springy grass. In Cleveland the use of stolens produced greens inside of one hundred days. In anticipation of the demand from golf clubs in Canada, a “creeping bent” farm has been started in Ontario.

Land girls will probably be employed to maintain the course, under the direction of an experienced greens keeper, but not until after the first year, which is a very important one in a club, for everything depends on the way the course is constructed.

Some day, perhaps, ranking players, even an international champion, may get training on the links at Thornhill. At any rate Miss Mackenzie and her associates have done a great work for women’s golf in Canada.