Clare Golf and Country Club – a history of the Friendly Club
The concept of constructing a new 9 hole golf course in Clare crystallized in 1966 when 80 interested citizens, spearheaded by Dave and Louis Gaudet, met to investigate the possibility of building a golf course in their region. The first Board of Directors worked extremely hard over the winter and their goal of raising $ 35,000 was met by the spring of 1967.
As work began on finding a site, an arrangement was struck with St. Anne’s College to purchase the farm of Jeremie Comeau located at Comeauville. This farm served as the location for the construction of the new golf course, which was overseen by Louis Gaudet. While this was the first attempt at golf course development by Louis Gaudet (he had played only Digby Pines and Green Gables, PEI prior to that time), his meticulous approach proved to be very successful as it became apparent that he was able to unleash the beauty of this farm landscape, overlooking St. Mary’s Bay.
Play began in 1967 on five holes, those holes being #1, 2, 3, 4 and 9. The other four holes were ready for play in 1968.
The first few years were difficult ones financially. Despite the difficulties, the Board forged ahead. Golf Pro Gordie Shaw was hired for the 1969 golf season and he acted as Pro-Superintendent until he left at the end of 1974.
Times were still difficult, but steady, as the golf club headed into the 1970s. However, it was in these years that Dave Gaudet and Gordie Shaw were instrumental in developing an idea which would lay the foundation for the future success of our Club. With the assistance of directors and members, it was decided to develop a junior program in which skills and etiquette were taught to young golfers. They were encouraged to play in Club events and driven to outside tournaments for competition. In subsequent years, the Club would reap the benefits of this initiative.
Perry Jackson became manager of the course for the 1975 season and it was during this time that the phrase “THE FRIENDLY CLUB” was made popular. Armand Comeau managed the club into the 1980s as membership numbers grew significantly. Later managers continued to provide great hospitality, including Tom Jubis, Hazel Dugas and Ron Aymar.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, membership numbers grew at a tremendous rate. In 1981, the Board decided to undertake the construction of 9 new holes, one of the most significant projects ever undertaken by Clare Golf and Country Club. Instead of contracting the work out, the Board undertook the project themselves, a bold decision at that time of their modest history. They purchased a used screener and bulldozer, and with government assistance from all three levels, construction began on 9 new holes, which officially opened in June 1986.
But the Club?s expansion could not have been possible without the support given to the junior program, which contributed to the growing number of members. Throughout the 1970s and 80s, their commitment to Junior golf was strong. The efforts of Dave Gaudet, Raymond Tufts, and others, have resulted in wide recognition for the Club. Players representing Clare Golf Club have captured numerous provincial titles and have represented Nova Scotia in national championships in every Canadian province. Without question, a defining moment occurred in 1981, when 17 year old Kevin Dugas won the Canadian Junior Championship at the St. George’s Golf Club in Toronto.
The Clare Golf course layout has also hosted major provincial championships, including the Nova Scotia Junior Championships, both the Nova Scotia Men’s and Ladies Amateur, and the Nova Scotia Men’s Mid – Amateur. The team chosen at the 1999 Mid-Amateur held at Clare Golf Club went on to capture Nova Scotia?s first national team title in Alberta later that summer.
Competition has also been very fierce at the club level throughout the years. It is noteworthy that all ten club champions in the club’s almost 40 year history have been products of its junior program.
Members of Clare Golf Club have also taken an active part in the administration of amateur golf. Dr. Julius Comeau and Roland Deveau have both served as President of the Nova Scotia Golf Association, and each went on to serve as governors of the Royal Canadian Golf Association. Ginny Hurlburt also acted as National Rules Chairperson for the Canadian Ladies Golf Association. In addition, Dave Gaudet and Raymond Tufts headed the NSGA Junior Development Committee.
The opening of the new back nine posed new challenges for Clare Golf and Country Club, as more and more persons chose golf as their favourite recreational activity. The Club met these new responsibilities as they increased their staff and made significant improvements to the quality of their equipment and facilities.
In order to accommodate growing demands, construction on a new clubhouse began in September 1999 and was completed for the 2000 season. While it was sad for all members to see that fateful day when the old farmhouse was demolished, the new clubhouse offers expanded facilities to serve our members and quests.
The Board has also planned for improvements to our course layout. It engaged the firm of Ed Dumeah, Gerry MacMillan and Graham McIntyre to prepare a long range plan for our course. Under their supervision, along with the work of our dedicated maintenance crew, construction began on fairway and greenside bunkers in 1998, and continue on an annual basis.