– Highland Country Club 1922-present

– Highland Country Club 1922-present

The beautiful 9th hole at Highland Country Club

Highland Country Club – Interesting Facts and Figures


1922 Highland Heights, London, Ontario


Private: Membership Owned

Year Built



Stanley Thompson.
Ian Andrew – Redesign of bunkers and tees [2005]

Golf Professionals

John Innes [1922-1923]
Charles Nixon [1924-1929]
Walter Meyer [1930-1940]
Jarv Taylor {1941-1958]
John Henrick [1959-1961]
Merv Costello [1962-1973]
Ken Fulton [1974-1975]
Wilf Homenuik [1976-1977]
Mike Silver [1978-2016]
Rick Pero [ 2017 forward].

Greens Superintendents 

Jim Hickman
Gord Witteveen
Stuart Mills
Ken Shomanski
Graham Shouldice [1971-2008]
Greig Barker [2009-present]

Significant Tournaments 

Labatt Highland Amateur
2015-’16 MacKenzie Tour Championship
Highland Best Ball

2017 MacKenzie Tour Championship

Signature Hole

#16 -Par 4. Sharp dogleg to the right with a tiny green, big elevation change.
Poor choice of holes to hit a substandard tee shot.

Underrated Hole

 #18 – Par 4,  O.B. right is menacing off the tee. The left rough and 1st fairway
get plenty of action from defensive tee shots.

Best Players

Kevin Brievik and Cheryl Collister stand above because of their records.
Other fine players include:
Barry “Sparky” Paterson
Bruce Paterson
Jim Currie
Jeff Van Vliet
Keith Kirkpatrick
John Crowther
Derek Witchell
Rob Killeen

Bill Hall

Peter Menzies

Harry van Diepen

Charlie Egelston

Rita Self

Jim Currie III

Kathy Clark

Five Best Features

18 fast consistent greens
Fantastic location
View from the patio
Club Spirit
Respect for tradition

Interesting Fact

Although Highland Country Club has a reputation for preserving its history and protecting its original green surfaces, some fairly significant changes have happened over the years to individual holes and the order that they are played.

About Highland Country Club


I first set foot on Highland Country Club in 1967 as a caddy for Lew French in the Labatt Highland Amateur. It was a huge event in those days and it was run with the precision and class of a pro tournament. It was exciting for me because Lew was playing with the Club Champions of the London Hunt Club and Highland but it was most memorable for me because of the speed of the greens. Having grown up on public golf courses, I had just never seen a ball roll and roll like that. Although Highland has tinkered with many attempts to improve the areas around the greens, including mounding and bunker renovations, the Club has steadfastly resisted any unnecessary changes to the green’s surfaces. Good decision.

Some of the greens themselves are so small that no one would design anything like them today but it seems to only add to the charm and challenge of the course. The reasonable pinning area on number 14 for example when the greens are fast [which is always] can’t be more than a few hundred square feet. The Poa annua/bentgrass mix that exists on the greens is like none other that I have ever played. Perhaps from being closely cropped for so many years, the grass blades are so finely textured that they don’t resemble any other greens in the City with similar types of grass.

The greatest golf shot that I ever saw at Highland [and perhaps anywhere else] was hit by Kelly Roberts in a playoff with Sarnia’s Ian Davidson for the 1973 Labatt Highland Amateur. The twosome, knotted at six under par after 36 holes, teed off on the first hole in a playoff and Kelly managed to muscle his drive to the top of the hill, no small achievement in an era of steel shafts, persimmon woods and balata balls. John German and I were part of the sizable gallery that was following the playoff and we were situated right behind Kelly for his second shot. He pulled out his Power-Bilt Thoroughbred one-iron and I thought he was just hitting an iron to be sure to avoid the big oak on the left [which is no longer there] and the swamp on the right. The ball took off like a rocket, arched high in the air past the outstretched arms of the oak, flew onto the front of the green and stopped within a foot of its pitchmark. Kelly two putted to win the tournament. John German and I always talk about that shot whenever we see each other……and how great it was.

I first played the course in 1968 in the qualifying round for the Ontario Junior Championship. I was paired with Jim Currie Jr.  Jim’s dad came out to see how we were doing and he caught up with us on the 16th tee. I was playing OK but I hooked my drive on 16 into the left rough. Right away I whined about “what am I going to have to hit in from there” and Jim Sr. quickly replied “all that you’ve got and then some”. Jim Sr was a fairly direct guy. I always remember that moment. Playing number 16 from the left rough is rarely a positive experience.

Years ago Highland wasn’t the immaculately groomed property that it is now. Before the irrigation pond was built, water was very limited coming straight from a well. The greens were always lush but there were no faster fairways than those of Highland Country Club during a drought. Now with all of the drainage tile installed by the club, bunker and tee renovations and a modern irrigation system, Highland is indeed a beautiful site. Due to the legendary heavy clay soil and the several low lying areas, I often think of the miles of drain tile at Highland….a lot of it installed by Graham Shouldice who was not afraid to get his hands dirty during installation. Today, Mike Silver is able to report that Highland is a well drained golf course. Highland is a fine club with plenty of spirit and respect for the traditions of the game.

Highland Country Club – 1923 Design Diagram


This is truly an amazing diagram dated May 31, 1923. We love diagrams with specific dates [May 31, 1923], names [John Moore] and titles [Ontario Land Surveyor]. The course has just opened the year before. The first and second holes are the same as today as well as the stretch from 12 to 18. In between there have been incredible changes over the years to the numbering of the holes, the design of the holes themselves and to the drainage of low areas to make the course more playable. After playing #1 and#2, the same as today, the course went this way: #3 was today’s ninth hole;  #4 was a much different par 3 but in the same general area as today’s #10 [documented later];  #5 was the 11th hole played as a par 4;  #6 was today’s 3rd hole played to a green tucked way to the right against the fence [and it can still be seen today];  #7 was the 4th hole played as a par 5 from a tee that still exists left of today’s 3rd green;  #8 was the current 5th with no design changes;  #9 is the old 6th which is no longer in use due to the construction of the range;  #10 is the old #7, hard dogleg left instead of gentle dogleg right;  #11 is the current eighth hole but played as a par five to a green back and to the right of the present green.
After all that, the next seven holes from #12 to #18 remain remarkably intact. Note also that on this diagram swamps still exist in the low areas of today’s #2, #7, #12 and #16. Imagine the added difficulty of playing those holes, especially today’s #7 and #16 as they exist on this diagram. By the way, what is going on east of the 18th tee? Did Highland own the land all the way to Upper Queens?  Does Highland Country Club still own that land?

Highland Country Club – Changes to #10, Diagrams & Photos

Here is how "old" #10 would look today standing on old #10 tee. The new patio would be a great place to view the hole.......until a low line drive heading to the right ended up in your beer.

Women golfers wait their turn to tee off on old #10 at Highland Country Club. The clubhouse was close to Commissioners Road. This building served as the pro shop and was situated exactly where today's pro shop is located.


One of the major changes to the design of Highland Country Club is documented here on this page. The old tenth ran at almost a right angle to today’s tenth. The tee was near the steps to the current pro shop and the green was located in current #10 fairway.



Here is an aerial from 1942 showing where the old tenth was. Present #9 and #18 green are marked for reference. This photo also shows the original clubhouse located near Commissioners Road. We are looking for a better picture of that if anyone has one.



Old #10 was still in play in 1950. This photo shows the two shoulder bunkers
that can still be seen today.



In 1955 old ten was still in play but new 10 is under construction. The white lines down the center of current #11 fairway are a major irrigation upgrade that occurred that year and included the entire course. Fairly clear why “old ten” had to go. Highland needed some room for a proper clubhouse and a curling rink. “New ten” won the 2017 award in Jeffrey Reed’s “londonontariogolf.com” survey as the best par three in London, so clearly this was a good decision by the Club.



Here is the green site today of original #10.  Interestingly, with the construction of the irrigation pond, this would be a fantastic hole. This view is on a line from the pro shop steps, the exact same line as the original hole. The members relaxing after a round on the striking new second floor patio would have a great view as golf balls could be arcing overhead. Perhaps it could be reclaimed as a playoff hole, or more in the Highland tradition, a betting hole, so the members could get a fine view of the action. Night lights would be a nice touch.



This photo is taken standing on the left side of old #10 green. There was a golfer friendly “bowled” effect at the back of the green. The contours of the former left side bunker are particularly easy to see in this photograph although the right hand bunker location is readily apparent also [but not visible in this photo]. For Highland members; why not take the scenic route sometime around the pond to the left on #10 and check it out or a quick detour after teeing off on #11 will work also. Great view of the old greensite from the awesome new patio.

Highland Country Club – Changes to #8 and #12, Diagrams & Photos


Another big change at Highland involved the relocation of #8 green to its current location and this change made #8 a par 4 instead of a short par 5. The change allowed for the 12th hole to be extended to its present length. This is the view today.



This is how things looked in 1955. New #8 green has been built but the bunker for the old hole is clearly visible.



Another shot from 1942. This photo clearly shows how close the old eighth green was to #2 green. Due to the location of the old 8th green, the old twelfth was necessarily an extremely short par 3 and this design change allowed it to be extended. The old 12th tee shown here was also in the line of fire from #2 tee.



This is the view standing on old #8 green. The cartpath for #12 runs right over it and you can just see the branches of the tree that is growing on it. It doesn’t appear that this area was ever re-graded and the contours seem to be just as they were when the course was constructed in 1922. The new #8 green that is in use today can be seen as well as the maintenance facility and the tee for the driving range.



The contours of the old bunker are still easy to see from the new 8th green or the 12th tee.

Highland Country Club – Scorecards and Design Change


Years ago the scorecards all had “Stymie Gauges” like the one at the top of this scorecard. I still don’t know what this means. Were you able to move your ball the 6″ distance in order to better putt around your opponents ball? This is a cool scorecard because it has an exact date on it. Looks like Jack had a bad day and couldn’t take it but June soldiered on and finished the nine. Notice that ladies had a special local rule for playing #2 [lift from the ditch with no penalty] and some restrictions on when they could play on weekends. #8 is still a par 5 so #12 is necessarily very short…..115 yards may be generous. Note that “St. Andrews Rules govern all play”.



Highland scorecard from 1958. This same general layout was used for over 40 years with few changes. No stymie gauges on the 1958 card.



Here is the flipside of Highland Country Club scorecard from 1958 once all of the changes were completed. A classy, simple scorecard.



This is the layout of numbers 5,6 and 7 in 1950. #5 is the same as today while #6 was a par 3 that went back in the opposite direction. #7 was much different; a sharp dogleg left compared to the gentle turn to the right that the hole has now.



In the early 2000’s the holes were changed to their current configuration in order to accommodate a practice facility. This is what 5, 6 and 7 look like presently. I can still see old #6 green in the corner of the dogleg for #5. Must have saved it for a nursery green or a target green for the range. After this change the only virtually untouched holes at Highland Country Club from 1922 would be #1, #2, #5, #9 and #13-#18.

Highland Country Club Hosts the 1957 Ontario Amateur

In the mid to late 1950's there was lots going on at the Highland Country Club. Although water was available for the greens and tees, there was no way to irrigate the fairways. Other private clubs had started to upgrade their irrigation systems so accordingly Highland Country Club installed fairway irrigation starting in 1955. The best material available in those days for pipes was a material called Transite, a combination of cement and asbestos. Unfortunately in the long haul Transite became brittle and that caused an entire series of problems. The limiting factor for irrigation at Highland was that the water was pumped directly from a well and this limited source meant that only a few fairway sprinklers could be operated at the same time.

Also in the mid-1950's Highland made the decision to shorten the 8th hole which was a par 5 and change it into a par 4. This allowed for the tee on #12 to be moved back. #12 had been a super short par 3 of not much more than 100 yards but more troubling was that this tee was in the line of fire from wayward tee shots on the difficult 2nd.

In 1959 Highland opened a new clubhouse and curling rink. This improvement was overdue and necessitated changing the location of the tenth hole. It was still a par 3 but instead of going due west from today's pro shop the tee was moved to its present position and a new green was constructed.


Against all these goings on, Highland Country Club hosted the memorable 1957 Ontario Amateur.


In 1957 the Ontario Amateur was strictly a match play event. No total stroke play scores were ever recorded


This is the scorecard and layout that was in play for the 1957 Ontario Amateur. "New #10, #8 par 4 and the 12th has been stretched to 134 yards.


Here is the Highland layout for the 1957 Ontario Amateur. The changes to #8 and #10 have been completed. The white lines in the fairways are a result of the fairway irrigation project in 1955. The clubhouse for the Amateur is still the one close to Commissioners Road.


To the surprise of no one Nick Weslock was considered the man to beat for the 1957 Ontario Amateur


A lot of the local players won their opening matches.

Second and third round results


Weslock and three others advance. All locals are eliminated.


Ray Coole wins the 1957 Ontario Amateur at Highland Country Club.


Ray Coole from Hamilton defeats Bill Morland [who managed to beat the pre-tournament favorite, Nick Weslock in the semi-final round] in the final with the aid of a lucky bounce on #18.

Highland Country Club Clubhouses

At long last I have found a photo of the original Highland Country Club clubhouse. This photo was published on May 29, 1926 in the London Free Press.

Highland Country Club Clubhouse, May 29, 1926. I was always led to believe that the old clubhouse wasn't much to look at but clearly it is a stately beauty.


Here is the old clubhouse from the air in 1942. Very close to Commissioners Road and Wortley Road is easy to see.



Here it is from the air in 1950.



And here it is in 1960. The new clubhouse and curling rink were open for business in 1959. Clearly at this point the old one is still standing.




Here is how the updated version of the new clubhose looks today.



The coolest feature of all the upgrades is a second floor patio with a commanding view down over many holes on the course.


This is part of the fine view from the patio. Nice place to enjoy an apres-golf beverage.


View of #1 and #9 from the patio.




Highland Country Club – The 19th Hole


Many years ago a proposal went forward to the membership of Highland to sell their property in exchange for building a huge “state of the art” facility outside the City limits. Hard to believe that some type of intensive development would not have been in the offing for this extremely valuable property. Highland is landlocked so the course cannot be made any longer and it is unlikely that any more major changes can be made that would be of long term benefit to the club. The proposal must have seemed attractive to some members to have more holes, plenty of land for practice facilities, modern design, up to date construction, 7500 yards and a brand new clubhouse…….not to mention that those shares which are owned by the members would have had plenty of value. To the surprise of no one, Highland members voted the proposal down.
It seemed that the members liked things the way they were with a relatively short, sometimes quirky course with plenty of soul and a location that can’t be beat. Google maps don’t lie and a view of this emerald oasis within a sea of development only demonstrates the importance of a well managed greenspace like this so close to the center of the city. 200 years from now Highland Country Club will likely still exist on the same site although by then, the way things are going equipmentwise, the senior members might be driving the first green.

I would like to acknowledge the Highland members and the efforts of my former neighbour and Thames Valley denizen, Mike Cuneen, for staging the Tour Championship of the McKenzie Tour the past two seasons. The event is on again this year from September 14 – 17. For anyone who has any appreciation of the game, you would be hard pressed to get better value than the ten dollar admission fee for a full day of golf on a beautiful site. The tournament has grown in attendance and stature each year with the support of the members. Not all clubs are willing to give up their course for the best part of a week. The quality of play and wow factor of how far the young golfers are pounding the ball make for an excellent day out. The pros are able to overpower some of the holes like #1 and #3 but #15 and #16 still give them all they can handle. I love the tiny tee for #11 which brings the irrigation pond into play. Only space for one golfer at a time on that tee.  I like watching #14 which the pros play as just a medium length par 4. Perhaps this year the original tee for today’s #4 can be reclaimed [#7 on the 1923 diagram], so the pros can play that hole as a 500 yard par four where they can’t bomb the ball over the hill and hit a wedge in for their second shot.