Layout diagram from the scorecard of the final configuration of the holes at St. Thomas Public/ Talbot Park. Course closed in 2001.
1063 Talbot Street, St. Thomas, Ontario
City of St. Thomas until 1945
Timken Roller Bearing Company of Canton Ohio after 1945
1909 by Elgin Golf Club; became a public golf course in 1924
Unknown. Jack Pullen redesigned the course in the 1960’s with 2 variable sets of tees.
Interclubs vs. St. Thomas Golf and Country Club
Tyson Tour site
Active Men’s and Ladies Leagues, among the oldest running leagues in Ontario
#8 – the dreaded “Railroad Track hole”
#1 – a tough par 4 to start
Mary Jane Henderson [Kerr]
Five Best Features
Beginner golfer friendly
Challenging (par 66 layout)
The value of having this affordable course in an accessible location almost downtown in St. Thomas cannot be overestimated. A bit sad that the former site [except for #7 green and #8 hole] is completely built on or asphalted over. You could hit some long drives now……particularly on #1, #3 and #6.
Here is the St. Thomas Public/Talbot Park golf course as it looks today. The anchor store of this development is a gigantic Wal-Mart located right in the middle of #6 fairway. The only greenspace left is the green site for #7 and #8 hole. The Railway tracks run parallel to #8, just to the right of the photo.
The Wal-Mart takes up a big chunk of #6 fairway.
The site of the former clubhouse is a busy gas bar.
#1 fairway looking north toward the tracks. Kind of scary how those rows of light standards are about in the same locations as the former treelines to separate the fairways. You could hit a really long drive now on #1.
#7 green. That dead tree was huge and its location behind #7 green was noted on the scorecard.
This course closed in 2001 yet the ballwasher post for #8 tee sits there almost as good as new. Could still use it today.
The ominous railroad tracks still run the entire length of #8 from tee to green. Out of Bounds. Reload.
Was surprised to find the wooden posts for the #8 tee sign, overgrown but still in good shape.
#8 fairway today, a lowly tailings pond. RR tracks to right.
The Timken plant dominated the landscape at St. Thomas Public golf course in more ways than one. They owned the land where the course was located. The land that this plant still occupies was the site of 9 more holes in the early 1930’s. Unfortunately those holes had green’s surfaces made of a sand/oil mix rather than the more traditional grass. Golfers were not impressed and failed to patronize the “sand/oil” nine.
Excerpt from “The St. Thomas Golf & Country Club” (Wayne Paddon 1994)
The first winner of the Tyson Junior Golf Tour was Harold Kewley from St. Thomas Public golf club. The Tyson Tour celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year. Harold has just won the last event on the 1968 Junior Tour with a dramatic chip-in for a 72 on the 18th hole at Fanshawe while 4 other players who had shot 73’s looked on. The win cemented his capture of the inaugural Tour. It is appropriate that Mary Jane Henderson, also from St. Thomas Public was victorious in the girl’s division. Mary Jane went on to have a fine amateur golf career.
Here is a better resolution photo from the Western University Archives.
This past fall I set up a meeting with Jack Pullen, PGA of Canada Life member and former owner and operator of St. Thomas Public Golf Course. We were going to discuss both the St. Thomas G&CC and the Nine Hole St. Thomas Public golf course. Jack is 87 and has a keen memory of everything of importance that ever happened at both St. Thomas courses. We started at the Country Club and took a lot of the photos that you can see on the St. Thomas G&CC page of the website. I knew a bit about the history of that course but Jack knew it all. It was a cold, windy, rainy day but we managed to finish looking at everything we wanted to see.
After that we decided that we still had enough time to check out the site of the former St. Thomas Public golf course. Jack knew exactly where to go and I followed him to 1063 Talbot Street, on the main drag in St, Thomas. I had only played the course once, two nine hole rounds 48 years previously, but I remembered many features of the course including the massive Timken Plant, the downtown location, the layout of the holes and the railroad tracks at the north end of the property adjacent to #8 fairway.
If you are a bit of a sentimental golfer then it is a bit difficult to stand on the site of a former golf course and to see what it has become. I think I can stand the chain restaurants, financial institutions and big-box retail outlets a bit better than the fact that the central part of the course is nothing more than a giant parking lot. Asphalt where grass and trees used to grow.
Jack offered to buy me lunch at the Wendy’s that more or less occupies the site of the former ninth green. While in line waiting for our order we chatted with another customer about the former golf course on the site. Lunch was great but I couldn’t help thinking while I was eating about golf people like Jack who put their heart and soul into their golf business only to have it turned into a Wal-Mart Superstore [of all things], cookiecutter retail establishments and a gigantic parking lot.