100 years of empowering women in golf

By Scarlett Liu
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Markham Economist & Sun

The Ladies’ Golf Club of Toronto, nestled in Markham, is celebrating a century of existence.

Founded in 1924 by Ada Mackenzie, a visionary entrepreneur, champion golfer, and mentor to aspiring young golfers, the club was established to provide women with a private and welcoming environment to enjoy the sport of golf.

Born in 1891, at a time when Canadian women had limited rights and participation in sports and business, Mackenzie faced challenges typical of her era. Women’s tee times were restricted, and they were often barred from playing on weekends. Despite these obstacles, fuelled by the unwavering support of her parents, Mackenzie pursued her passion for golf with determination.

Building a golf court for women had always been Mackenzie’s dream. She collaborated with renowned Canadian golf course architect, Stanley Thompson. Together, they designed a unique course that reflected Mackenzie’s insights and preferences.

In August 1926, the course was officially opened with a match between two Canadian champions, Helen Paget and Mackenzie herself.

Over the years, the club had its share and challenges, such as the stock market crash, the Great Depression, and financial difficulties during wartime. However, a resilient group of businesswomen persevered, ensuring the club’s continued operation.

In the 1990s, the club underwent significant improvements, including the construction of a new Pro Shop. More recently, the club made headlines by selling the 9th hole at Royal Orchard and Bayview to Tride. The proceeds from this sale will fund a major renovation of the club’s historic clubhouse, preserving its heritage while enhancing its facilities for future generations.

Reflecting on the club’s rich legacy, longtime member Joan Elliott remarked, “Ladies’ is a great club — we have inherited it because of the vision of Mackenzie and the women who followed in her footsteps.”

In 1955 she was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame, recognizing her huge contribution to Canadian Women’s golf.