Probably my favorite photo on the website. The colors are fantastic and this action shot of the maintenance staff trying to build a course on farmland to be a “sister course” to Thames Valley, is full of interesting details. This photo is of #13, #14 and #15, Fanshawe Traditional, 1957. #15 tee is getting watered by the sprinkler in the foreground. Elevated #13 green visible just behind the furthest sprinkler. Not many trees. Photo taken from the crest of the hill where #3 and #16 Traditional greens are located today. Old barn in the extreme upper right corner is still there. The one-yard trailer being towed behind the tractor was used to help build River Road.
Originally RR5 London then 2835 Sunningdale Road East
City of London
John Moffat Senior
John Moffat 1958
Bill Fox Sr. 1959-1969
Mike Olizarevitch 1970-2009
Andy Shaw 2010
Robert Vincent 2011-Present
Bill Broome 1958-1961
Hubert Ward 1962-1981
Al Stoyles 1981-1990
John Cowie 1991
Bob Miners 92-97
Don Omerod 98-2004
Brent Hoppe 2005-Present
Oakridge Ford Best Ball Tournament
1975 Fall PGA
Tyson Tour [participation for all 49 years]
Les Thomas Tournament since its inception in 1982
#12 – Par 3 – 204 yards, one of the best par 3’s anywhere
#10 – Par 4 -345 yards, the difficult green makes for many bogies and worse
Bill Fox Sr.
Jeff Van Vliet
Bill Fox. Jr
Five Best Features
Great public layout
Design of Individual holes
Very Challenging par 3’s
The majority of the holes on the Traditional remain reasonably intact from opening day in 1958. The one exception is the old 12th hole which used to go from the back tee on Traditional #7 to the green for Quarry #1. When you stand on the back tee for #7 Traditional and gaze through the maze of trees now, it is hard to believe that the hole once went to #1 Quarry green.
The original design for Fanshawe Golf Course covered an area of 123 acres. 68 of the 123 acres were leased land belonging to the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority. These 68 acres were designated floodplain and made up most of the holes located on the south end of the course near Fanshawe Park Road. On today's Traditional course this includes #1, #2, #3, #12, #13, #14, #15, #16 and parts of other holes. The remaining 55 acres were purchased by the City of London from local farmer Bill Broome and comprises the northern area of the course close to Sunningdale Road. Today's holes built on this land include #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10, #11, #17 and #18. Typical of many courses back in the day, the farmer/former owner was hired as the greenskeeper. Bill Broome helped to build the course and served as the greens superintendent until he passed away in 1963. Here is an aerial photo of Fanshawe as a farm in 1955 and then the same shot in 1967 when the golf course was completed.
The grade on almost all of the fairways was never changed during construction. John Moffat and John Innes, the designers of the course laid out the holes on the natural contours of the land, using them to best advantage. One exception to this occurred on today's #16 hole. The final steep hill ascending to the green must have been deemed too severe for golfers to climb so John Moffat directed a bulldozer to build a kind of causeway to soften the slope and it is still easy to spot today. Here is John directing the work on May 7, 1956. The background of this photo is interesting. It is easy to see the newly formed Fanshawe Lake [Fanshawe dam was built and opened in 1953] and the bath houses for swimmers in the lake. Swimming in the lake doesn't happen anymore so the bath houses have been torn down.
Sometimes the background of older photos proves to be the most interesting. Here is a photo taken on the same day from a slightly different angle and it shows #13 and #15 greens under construction.
John Moffat fought hard to insure that the new course, lying on a massive gravel deposit, was properly irrigated. He obtained historical rainfall records from the London Airport to help prove his point that a course built on such a well drained site was going to need a good watering system. This is likely why the initial $80,000 construction budget ballooned to $120,000. Below are three photos of the "state of the art", at that time, irrigation system pipes arriving at the course.
Incidently here is another photo of the "Vulture Tree" taken in the same year, 1955, but this time it is taken from the vantage point of Fanshawe Lake. The boat is the hydroplane "Miss Supertest III" with its Rolls Royce engine and otherworldly speed.
Because Fanshawe Traditional was built on a gravel deposit, there were likely to be plenty of rocks to deal with. Accordingly the builders hired a rock picker to go over all of the property once the surface had been roughly prepared. Apparently there were so many rocks that the noise generated from this rock picker by the stones hitting the steel was so loud that no one wanted to be anywhere close to it when it was in operation.
“Before” – major excavation for an irrigation line on Traditional #3.
“After” – the same view today
“Before” – irrigation installation up the hill toward #16 green
“After” – the view today
Seeding the back of #2 Traditional green. The cedars are so small that Fanshawe Lake can be seen in the background with sailboats on it.
The same view today but there is no way to see the lake now that the cedars are a bit bigger.
“Before” – rock picker on #5 Traditional fairway.
“After” – the same view today with the same old oak tree in the background.
Fanshawe’s first of three clubhouses, 1957. It was located against the fenceline directly to the left of today’s #13 Traditional tee. The second was a donated surplus military “H” hut used for housing pilots in training for WWII and it was located close to this one……just a bit to the north and close to both #3 and #13 Traditional tees. It was in operation from 1960-1971. The third is the clubhouse today which opened in 1972.
Unidentified golfer with a pretty good swing is hitting a few balls to warm up in front of the “palatial” clubhouse. Present site of #13 Traditional tee.
Same golfer hitting a shot down #13 fairway although it looks like there is little chance that it will end up in the trees.
The two sprinklers on the left are irrigating Traditional #13 while the two on the right are irrigating #14. Absolutely nothing in the way of trees between these two holes at this point.
Original Design blueprint for Fanshawe Golf Course dated May 4, 1956. John Innis and John Moffatt are identified as designers. Access to clubhouse and parking is off Fanshawe Park Road. Most of the holes remain reasonably intact with the exception of #12. The original #12 green is the one at the extreme upper right corner of the diagram. Today old #12 green is Quarry #1 green.
For all the greenskeepers out there this is the original working drawing that John Moffatt used when installing the irrigation system at Fanshawe. By today’s standards it might seem primitive but 60 years ago for a public golf course to have a complete underground irrigation system was a big deal.
John Moffatt Senior, pictured here, was the main designer and builder of the Fanshawe Traditional Course
Excerpt from “From Rough to Fairway” (John Cowie 2010)
1958 scorecard. Par is 70. #4, today’s Traditional #16 is a par 4.
1959. Par is still 70 but the last hole [Traditional #2] has become a 205 yard par 3.
1960. Yardage has increased to 6,307 and #4 [today’s 16] has become a par 5 played from a tee perched on the hill behind current #15 green. Par for the men has increased to 71 and par for the Ladies is 74. This is the first year for two sets of “Men’s” tees, the white and the blue. Virtually everyone played the blue tees…..the maintenance staff would rarely have to bother moving the white tees because so few players played them. Everyone teed off the tough 18th hole [#2 Traditional today] from the back tee. Lots of matches won and lost on that hole.
Fanshawe's First Junior Invitational, September 2, 1960.
Typical of most golfers, I have a soft spot for the golf course that I grew up playing and that for me was the Fanshawe Traditional. The Fanshawe “Traddy” was built and paid for using funds generated by the golfers at the first City of London course, Thames Valley. It got off to a slow start because most of it was farmland and there were few trees of any consequence to break up the landscape. The trees which were provided by the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority to line the fairways were very small, not much more than saplings, and they provided a stark contrast to the mammoth oak trees that abounded at Thames Valley. The turf was poor in the early days and limited funding for construction meant that proper tees and traps would have to be built long after the course first opened. In fact the first year that I was a member in 1965 there was only one trap on the course and it was behind #1 green [#13 presently] and it prevented misjudged approach shots from rolling out onto Fanshawe Park Road.
Often the most important events in the history of anything are things that never happened. In 1991 four golf course employees, Mike Olizarevitch, Al Stoyles, Fred Kern and yours truly John Cowie were asked to come up with a design to best incorporate a new piece of land into the design of Fanshawe Golf Course. Fanshawe at the time was a 27 hole course consisting of the Red and White Nines being the old Front and Back Nines of the original layout and the Blue Nine, opened some 25 years later on the site of a mined-out gravel pit. The decision to preserve the Traditional as much as possible just the way it was and to add new holes to the Blue Nine in order to make what became the Quarry Course a “stand alone 18” was supported by all four employees. The other option of constructing more “in” and “out” holes near the Clubhouse so that all nines returned to the clubhouse was not approved. It took a long time for the Quarry golf course to mature into the fine course that it is today [18 years and counting] but the important decision to keep the Traditional as a self-contained 18 hole course, much as it was when it was designed in 1956, was the most important outcome of the recommendations of Mike Olizarevitch, Al Stoyles, Fred Kern and John Cowie. The bottom line is that the decision to build the Quarry as it exists today was foremost about preserving the Fanshawe Traditional.