"...Beverly is often referred to as one of the best kept secrets in Canadian golf."In 1957 a group of farsighted individuals formed a non-profit corporation, purchased farmland in what was then the Township of Beverly and retained the services of renowned Canadian golf architect, Clinton E. “Robbie” Robinson, to design an 18-hole course on the property.
A swimming pool was built first and was the start of the golf and country club. The first nine holes opened for play in 1959, and the second nine was completed one year later. The founders of the club wanted a “spacious course”, and asked Robinson to create distinct holes, a variety of shot values, and to ensure the holes were routed to avoid parallel fairways and holes.
The course was constructed on naturally rolling terrain, which includes a creek and a small lake. Thousands of trees – maples, oaks, tamaracks, and willows – planted during construction, are now mature woods enhancing the natural beauty of the location. Today, with its challenging par-70 layout and excellent conditioning, Beverly is often referred to as one of the best kept secrets in Canadian golf.
The golf course and facilities have been improved continually over the past six decades. Notably, in 1999 the classic course design was updated by Doug Carrick, one of Canada’s most in-demand golf course architects, and a former apprentice of Robbie Robinson. In 2005, Beverly opened the doors of its new clubhouse and swimming pool, which provide modern amenities and an inviting and comfortable social setting for members.
In 2013 Ian Andrew, golf course architect, developed a bunker renovation design based on the Club's golf course master plan. The shape and location of bunkers was updated, clay liners and drainage systems were installed in all bunkers and then filled with manufactured sand. The total number of bunkers was reduced to 50 from the previous 62. The work was completed in the fall of 2014.
While much has changed and improved over the years, the primary objectives of the Club’s founders remain intact, and have been fulfilled – that Beverly Golf and Country Club provide its members an outstanding, time-honoured golf course and a great place to socialize. The Club's history is celebrated each year with a Founder's Day Tournament.
Reflections from a Founder
Founding member Ben Shekter talks about the Club's beginnings
Five guys with a shared vision of what could be made from a humble farmer’s field.
This is how Beverly Golf and Country Club began, says Ben Shekter, the last of those five men still with us. “The five of us really loved what we were doing,” says Ben, referring to his old friends Lou Davidson, Harry Beube, Morris Levine and Sam Paikin. “We all felt the same way.”
It took some dedication and commitment to start the club, Ben recalls. In the mid-1950s, there were few golfers and television had not yet become the powerful communications medium it is today. “There was no Arnold Palmer on TV. In those days, people just didn’t play golf. It was a much rarer thing.”
So instead of trying to build membership based on golf, Ben suggested less focus on ‘Golf’ and more focus on ‘Country Club’. “I knew about country clubs. There were 14 or 15 guys who played golf, that was it, so getting a golf club started was hard. I spoke to Dr. Morris Levine, and said ‘It’s about time you started on a country club. Put in a swimming pool.’ ‘Oh, come on, they said.’ Finally, they agreed to a swimming pool.”
After that decision was made, the memberships came in more easily, says Ben. “I would speak to someone, and say ‘Look, we’re going to build a country club, and put in a pool. I’ve got four kids, you’ve got three kids. Bring your kids down. We’re going to have a clubhouse.’ In five days, I signed up 19 families.”
“The membership grew slowly. Nobody joined to play golf, they joined for the membership. We had about 10 or 12 golfers at the beginning, and it grew from there,” says Ben.
Another key consideration at the beginning was the financial structure of the club, says Ben. He wasn’t interested in starting a for-profit club. “We agreed to the share structure. I wasn’t interested in profit. Here, you’re an owner.”
Ben remembers fondly the club’s genesis, which came with its share of fun, as well as growing pains. When the five men decided to start the club, they spent considerable time looking for the right property. Despite a very unwelcoming introduction to the property, they knew it was the right location. Ben chuckles at the memory. “When we were walking the property before buying it, we got chased by cattle heading across the field. One of us, Harry Beube, waved his jacket like a matador as Lou Davidson and I ran.”
“We found this property after looking around a lot – a property needed good soil, water, and no big hills. The soil was great, but there were no trees. If you look at the farm field to the west, as you go along hole number two, that’s how it once looked, exactly like that. We arranged for 10,000 little trees, from Guelph I think, they were only 6-8 inches high. We put them in nurseries, and then put them in their permanent spot when they grew.”
Course designer Robbie Robinson was engaged, with the instruction that members wanted a spacious course, with routing that did not go “up-and-down”. Ben was among the volunteers who spent time helping create the future fairways. “We created the original fairways by clearing stones, following carriages and moving rocks by hand. We helped clear those original stones.”
Ben and his collaborators also worked closely on the design of the clubhouse. “The original clubhouse design didn’t have a cellar. I went to a meeting and watched a fellow present the blueprints, and he was faking it. He was looking at them backwards. Nobody could read a blueprint,” says Ben. “I remember looking at the clubhouse design, and there was no cellar, for bag storage, etc.”
So Ben got involved, and helped re-design the clubhouse. Then he helped supervise the construction and design of the swimming pool.
Of course, not everything went smoothly. When the dam for the pond (near the tee on 13) was constructed, it didn’t include an overflow pipe. “We built it, and the first year it washed away. We were told to put in a pipe so the water could escape when it reached a certain level. So we did,” says Ben. “The second year, we put in cement pipes. Water went right under them and washed the dam away again. Then a farmer came in and suggested an L-shaped pipe, like in a bathtub, and which I think we still have to this day.”
Ben stopped his active membership about 20 years ago, but still keeps tabs on the Beverly he helped create and manage (he served as club president in 1976). He has watched with pride as the club has evolved, grown, endured crises and flourished. “I just enjoyed the whole concept of coming out there and watching those little 10-inch trees growing over the years, loving to see the people at the club enjoying themselves. I thought that was wonderful. None of that existed before.”
He notes that while the original concept of Beverly as a country club has evolved into Beverly as a golf club, the fundamental strength of the club – its strong membership and equity ownership structure – has helped it succeed over the last five decades. Ben wholeheartedly supports the recent changes to the club. “The new clubhouse is wonderful. I’m so impressed.”
And his view of the Beverly he helped create: “I think she’ll go on forever.”