THE EARLY YEARS: 1980–1992
People make history. A history without personalities is like porridge without sugar – or, to a Scotsman, salt. In this case however it is too early for more than a passing mention of individuals. Thus very few names are mentioned in the following narrative. Attached appendices show the chief officers of the club throughout its life, and its champions. All are in one way or another notable for their contribution to the club.
In an oxbow on the south side of the Nickomekl river in South Surrey, at the northern foot of the Semiahmoo escarpment, was a much sought after 80 acres used as a turkey farm. Only in 1974 did the owner, Cryer, agree to sell, to a consortium of six companies, of which two, owned separately by Herb Fritz and his son Dan, had a 25% share each. The property was outside the Agricultural Land Reserve but Surrey Corporation, to control development, immediately brought it in. However, despite much argument they could not prevent the development of Nico Wynd Estates on which work started in 1978.
In 1979, Herb Fritz became the first resident. He was an amateur golfer of note and had experience both at the Vancouver Club and in Washington Sate, as a Director and Past President of both the B.C. Golf Association and the Pacific Northwest G.A. It was primarily he who had the Golf Course in mind from the beginning and who designed it. The notable golf course architect Jack Reimer was later called in to advise, but could not improve on the original design and stayed on to supervise its construction. On March 1, 1980 it was opened for play.
Nico Wynd is a nine hole course, played twice to two different flag positions on the nine greens from a variety of tee positions. Despite this limitation and a modest 5868 yard length it has continued to prove much more challenging and interesting then at first appears to the uninitiated. Many a ‘lion’ arriving to play it for the first time, and looking at the card, has thought of easy pickings, only to come to considerable grief while getting the measure of Nico Wynd.
On May 8, 1980 fourteen players, almost all non-residents, met to form a men’s golf club to play there on a ‘regular’ basis every Sunday morning.
By July 8, 1980 membership had grown to 30 (dues were $30- pa), and in due course the first Club Championship was held. By 1981 the membership had grown to 90 so was introduced the shotgun start. The Seniors Club Championship was introduced and it became necessary to have a weekly draw for Sunday times, registration required by the Thursday. By 1982 the main day for club play was moved to Saturday. Tuesday mornings were reserved for Seniors and Wednesday mornings for the ladies who were forming there own club. By 1985 Saturday play was drawing fields of 40 – 50. More exceptionally, Walter McAlpine, who had been the first Captain, later President, a gentleman in every way as well as a fine golfer and great supporter of the club, who had suffered a severe stroke which ended his golfing days, was elected the Club’s first Honorary Life Member. A few years later the same honour was given to Don Vander Ploeg.
By 1988 membership had grown to nearly 300, and it was felt that a written constitution was required not just for smooth operations but for the protection of its officers.
In 1989 the Stratacorp agreed the club’s suggestion that the later be the formal referee and administer for the course record. Thus our long standing member Don Mcall’s score of 64 in 1986 was officially recognized. In 1991 it was to be beaten with a 62 by senior member Don Ross, which still stands to this day.
In 1991 membership was frozen at 240, as in the previous year. The waiting list increased but despite this the club, whilst under no such obligation, always felt it politic as well as useful to manage somehow in due course to squeeze in any new residents wishing to join. Dues for 1991 were set at $56- pa. By 1992 there were 33 resident members. At the end of 1992 AGM it was confirmed the waiting list for membership was more than enough to fill vacancies at a 235 level. Fees for the year would remain at $56- pa.
Nico Wynd Men’s Golf Club in 1993 is a very different organization than that small organization started only 13 years earlier. It differs not only in size but in organization and activity. What it has lost in small ‘family’ feeling in the process has been more than made up by status, reputation, respect and activity.
THE MIDDLE YEARS: 1993–2000
For Nico Wynd Men’s Golf Club, most things continued for several years at the same high level of achievement as had been earlier reached and with good feelings all around. A notable advance was winter play. For years, out of season winter play on Saturdays and Tuesdays was casual, occasional and unorganized. Then came three years of regular winter Match play leagues started by Jack Meadows, followed by five years of ringer board and other medal competitions most ably organized by Ted Audette. Winter play, with some fifty members involved on Saturdays and Tuesdays, and fields (weather permitting) of 30 or so on each day, thus became an official recognized part of club activity. Word got around and groups from other, waterlogged clubs also came to Nico Wynd.
During the early years of this period, Herb Fritz successfully organized, with the help and support of Nico Wynd Men’s Golf Club, the annual Nico Wynd Open, a 36 hole sponsored championship that attracted players from around the area. Unfortunately after only about 3 performances, a lack of finding people prepared to give the time to run and organize it, led to its demise. Sponsored earlier by Nico Wynd Men’s Golf Club, Herb Fritz himself was in 1997 elected into the North West Golf Association’s Hall of Fame.
The Club organized a special championship day and banquet in his honour, and made him its fourth honorary member.
In 1996 that we started to use a comprehensive Handicap Manager/Tournament Manager computerized system. We were fortunate to have John Pywell and Merrill Birch on hand to implement the program which made our first use quite painless. Frank Sherman took over managing our information technology in 2000 and continued in this post for almost ten years.
THE LATER YEARS: 2000–2009
The last eight years have seen a continuation of the mutually beneficial relationship between the Nico Wynd Men’s Golf Club and the Management of Nico Wynd Estates. While there have been – and, presumably, always will be – difference of opinion on the right or wrong of something done or not done by management or Nico Wynd Men’s Golf Club, our members seem to be mainly satisfied with the pleasure we get from our golf and the camaraderie at Nico Wynd. Our club did suffer from a significant decline in membership from a high of 180 members in 2002 to a low point of 115 in 2005, with embarrassingly few players turning out on some Saturdays, but since then we’ve seen a gradual increase in yearly numbers, and are now averaging about 140 members. Graham Roberts, our captain since 2002 must be given credit for rebuilding our roster of Saturday players.
In 2004, Graham organized the “Harry Roberts Memorial Tournament” in honour of his father, who passed away in 2003. This has become an annual highlight, when, to quote Graham’s promotion of it, “There’s a slew of prizes, and holes in one for cars and cash.” And Graham doesn’t just play golf: in his spare time he built the computer station, the trophy case which is placed above it, the bench seating in the club house and those boxes which hold score cards and pencils at the first and second tees. He donated the “Bear Trophy”, officially its name is the Guardian of the Salmon, for the Club Champion, the Ace of the Year Crystal vase trophy and plaques to record the holes in one and he who, statistically, is the most improved player of the year and refurbished the Seniors Ace of the Year trophy.
Since its beginning, the Men’s Club has been fortunate to always have a good few men who were willing to give their time and their expertise in managing the administrative functions and the golfing aspects of its affairs. Those who have freely given their time and effort to be a member of the Executive Committee plus the many members who worked away at one or more of the untitled jobs ( necessary and incidental to what we do and how we do it) are the reasons for our continued success.
The listing of our Club Champions and Senior Champions shows quite the common trend of the cream rising to the top and staying there for two or more years; Rich Newall’s nine titles of either the Club Championship or the Senior Championship, capped in 2004 when he won both, is second only to the eighteen – yes, eighteen, won by Herb Fritz over the eleven years 1980 – 1991. These guys are good.
In keeping with the tradition that we acknowledge our debt to those members who have given an extraordinary amount of their time and talent to the Men’s Club, in 2001 we named Gordon French an Honorary Member, as much in recognition for his years of service to the BCGA, as to the Club. Similarly, in 2003 we honoured Jack Meadows, a founding member, and past Secretary and President. Then, in 2006 Bill Cannell, who was Seniors Captain in 1999 and 2000, President in 2001 and 2002, and has always been a willing and enthusiastic helper with many other jobs that have to be done. (collecting entry fees, selling tickets, acting as starter etc.) was made an Honorary Member.
In 2004, in memory of all Nico Wynd Men’s Golf Club members who have passed away, a Memorial Bench was placed on the first tee.
Since 2000, our annual ‘Awards Night’ has been held at the Chateau Cargill. The location, the space we use, the meal and bar service have been popular enough to indicate that we may continue to meet there for as long as we have a Club and as long as there is a Chateau Cargill. Naturally the highlight of the evening’s agenda is the handing over of the awards to their worthy winners and the door prizes and the raffle draw.