In 1909, Robert Home Smith, an accomplished builder from Stratford, began acquiring lands near the banks of the Humber River for real estate development. By 1927 he had perceived that if a fine golf club could be constructed in the area, it would add considerable extra sales appeal for his properties.
About the same time, a good friend, Sir Edward Beatty, president of the Canadian Pacific Railway, had launched the construction of the Royal York Hotel in Toronto, one of the largest hotels in the CP chain. Planned as a convention hotel, the Royal York would need the facilities of a fine golf club, and Home Smith lost no time in convincing his friend that he could provide that facility in Etobicoke — hence the original name, “The Royal York Golf Club.”
Smith brought in one of North America’s most renowned golf architects, Stanley Thompson, to design and construct an 18-hole championship course and to design a further nine-hole course on adjacent lands.
By 1929 the golf course was completed and construction was underway on the unique clubhouse. Designed by the architectural staff of the Home Smith Company, the clubhouse reflects the personal taste of the man, as well as his motto for the Company: “A little bit of England — far from England.”
Robert Home Smith died in 1935 and his executor trustee, Godfrey S. Pettit, became President of the Club, a position he held for the next 20 years. In 1946, when the financial arrangement with CP ended, the Club name changed to St. George’s Golf and Country Club.
In 1957 a curling facility was added, providing six sheets of ice, its own lounge, dining and bar facilities, locker rooms and an office. This addition attracted new members making St. George’s a year-round club. Members purchased the Club in 1962. Under the new ownership, operation and control passed to a Board of Directors elected from the general membership each for a three-year term.
In April 2013, the Club unveiled a spectacular new men’s locker room, introduced a spacious indoor learning academy above it on the new second floor in the fall of 2013, as well as an archive area. The Club also installed a new $1 million cedar shake roof on the clubhouse in the fall of 2014.
As host Club for the Canadian Open in 1933, 1949, 1960, 1968 and most recently in 2010, the LPGA Classic on five occasions, and the du Maurier Champions, Canadian Senior Open, St. George’s has won much praise from noted tour players over the years for its persistent demand for accuracy and four finishing holes.
The Club was honoured to be ranked No. 30 in the world in the February 2014 issue of Golf Digest magazine. This ranking is the highest worldwide ranking the club has ever received, following up on No. 10 in the world outside the United States from Golf Digest in 2012. In 2013, Golf Magazine, Golf Course Architecture magazine and Platinum Clubs of the World each ranked St. George’s among the Top-100 in the world.
Also in 2014, the Club went through an extensive greens reconstruction project led by architects Ian Andrew & Tom Doak, as well as St. George’s G&CC Property Superintendent Keith Bartlett. The members played on temporary greens for much of 2014 and look forward to the 18 new greens, plus the putting green, opening in June 2015.