Brightwood Golf & Country Club (Dartmouth, NS, CAN) - 9 Holes, New in 1934, Still in Existence
2018 DRS Update - Now noted as 9 Holes New in 1921 and 9 Holes Remodeled in 1921
Another Canadian project.
Sven, let me chime in with how incredible this effort has been on your part. It must surely have been a labor of love for which we owe you many thanks.
As a former member of Brightwood I would like to add some info on the above entry if I may. When I joined Brightwood in the early 1990s there was very little awareness of who was responsible for the design of the course, but the name Willie Park was found on some material used by the club. It was not until somewhat later that the club used any Ross references, though now they cite him frequently as the principal architect.
The club website now has a history which they either commissioned or was gifted to them, I do not know: https://www.brightwoodgolf.ca/about/
Since past versions of the site had a bad habit of disappearing without a trace I will reproduce the text below:"
Brightwood Golf & Country Club was established in 1914 and has been a place for great golf, great friends and great memories ever since. The course is a Donald Ross and Willie Park Jr. design – and the only 18 hole course by these designers. Located in the heart of Dartmouth and minutes from downtown Halifax gives Brightwood the unique ability to be both an oasis and close to the city.
In 1913, Dartmouth golfers faced the challenge of taking a ferry or going on a long car trip around the harbor if they were to use the golf links at Gorsebrook in Halifax. On January 6th, 1914 an investment group formed and incorporated the name Brightwood Golf Club. They then purchased an eighty-acre site referred to as Mount Thom for $40,000.
The original nine-hole course was laid out in 1914. The Brightwood course used an old residence on the property, built by architect Henry Elliot, as the first clubhouse. The property offered excellent vistas of the Halifax and the Bedford Basin. The course was officially opened by Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden on July 3, 1914. Unfortunately, the course was not ready for play and Borden only drove a ball off the first tee. The course opened two weeks later for play on July 17th, 1914.
The course was updated by British Open Champion Willie Park Jr. In July 1919 in Canadian Golfer magazine it was reported, “He was rearranging the links while there.” In the same article Willie Park Jr. told Ralph Reville of Canadian Golfer, “The situation at Brightwood is very fine, and they will have a first-class golf course when the suggested alterations are carried out.”
A local Halifax writer would write, “Probably the view that impresses artists and lovers of scenic beauty most, is that obtained from the highest point on the course. Gazing southward the view is magnificent. In the foreground is the panorama of the golf course, the green of the trees contrasting with the vivid emerald of the velvety greens and the darker green of the rough.
Beyond this fine sweep of country, sparkles the entrance of the harbor and the blue Atlantic. On Saturday the white sails of the yachts and other boats made the water seem more blue and the angry surf can be seen leaping up at the foot of the picturesque lighthouse on Meager’s Beach and hurling itself against Chebucto Head which gleamed purple and gold in the bright sunlight.”
In 1921, designer Donald Ross was hired to help the club expand to eighteen holes. He presented a plan to the Brightwood Golf & Country Club that included a second nine holes as well as a redesign of the original nine holes. This plan was adopted. But the work would not be completed in the mid 1920’s. In September 1921, C.E. Creighton of the club told Canadian Golfer, “We expected to have been on our new nine holes before this, but the weather has been so dry and the new turf has not grown in as expected., consequently we will play on our old nine until late in the season.”
In December 1922 Canadian Golfer mentions that Halifax is building a new 18-hole golf course at Brightwood, in Dartmouth. Reville mentions, “They are carting away rocks and cutting down trees to make an eighteen.” This work clearly took time to accomplish because it wasn’t until August 1924 Brightwood Golf and Country Club became the first club in the Maritimes to furnish its members with an 18-hole course. The following is from a review on the course in Canadian Golfer in March of 1926: “Brightwood Golf and Country Club, at Dartmouth across the harbor from Halifax, draws its membership from both Halifax and Dartmouth. Its second nine holes wore put into play during the summer of 1924 and have fully justified the generous expenditure involved in carving them out of the forest primeval.
The course has an entirely different character being on high ground at 350 sea level and affording magnificent overlooks of the Bedford Basin.” The article continues later, “The course measures 5,750 yards.” It goes on to share some observations on the golf course, “A tricky situation confronts the player at the No. 2 hole with its wide ravine and misleading slopes. At No. 7 the player faces a green which at a little distance slope sharply, giving the new player the curious impression that he is driving straight into the Atlantic Ocean.” The first Men’s Nova Scotia Amateur Championship was conducted in 1927 at the Brightwood Golf and Country Club. Dartmouth native and Brightwood member Frank Miekle won the first amateur with a round of 81 – 73 – 73 – 73 – 300. In 1959 the Brightwood CC purchased 450 acres on the Porto Bello property but never did expand or build on that site. The 1921 Donald Ross layout of the golf course remains to this day."
The dates noted are partly in line with those cited in a book by James A. Barclay, "Golf In Canada" (McClelland & Stewart Inc., 1992) which mentions the Park involvement but does not mention Ross despite having other references to his work in Canada. As you note, the DRS list has Brightwood as a 1921 Ross project (it may even be the source of the above). I also note that the Tufts Archive holds a "Collection of 22 Field Survey Books by Rassie Wicker, with dates from 1925 to 1967" relating to Brightwood.
Given the challenges of the piece of ground he had to work with - a small parcel of very hilly and rocky property - it is remarkable that a playable 18-hole course was delivered. Over the years various greens committees have of course added bunkers, planted trees, and done the usual sorts of things that they feel are worthwhile. In my opinion none of them has added much value. In more recent times the biggest change was the repositioning of the 5th green further away from the property boundary to reduce the number of balls (and resulting liability) landing on adjacent residential properties that were constructed there in the 1960s and '70s, and adding several very tall netting arrays around parts of the boundary to prevent more of the same in other areas.
A 1963 aerial photo is the earliest I could find online of the course but is still instructive in showing how it was constrained as the city grew around it. To orient the viewer, #1 tee is to the immediate right of the clubhouse in the photo, playing to a green at the bottom of the frame; #9 tee is behind the clubhouse, playing in the opposite direction, and #18 green is to the left of the clubhouse. The right side of the photo shows the 5th hole without the residential properties along the boundary fence that would later necessitate the relocation of the green. This also shows the original clubhouse that was destroyed by fire later in the 1960s and what was then a dirt parking lot, paved and expanded at some later date.
Once again, many thanks for your work.