Brightwood Golf & Country Club was established in 1914 and has been a place for great golf, great friends, and great memories ever since. The course is a Donald Ross and Willie Park Jr. design – and the only 18-hole course by these designers in Nova Scotia. Located in the heart of Dartmouth and minutes from downtown Halifax gives Brightwood the unique ability to be both an oasis and close to the city.
In 1913, Dartmouth golfers faced the challenge of taking a ferry or going on a long car trip around the harbour if they were to use the golf links at Gorsebrook in Halifax. On January 6th, 1914 an investment group formed and incorporated the name Brightwood Golf Club. They then purchased an eighty-acre site referred to as Mount Thom for $40,000.
The original nine-hole course was laid out in 1914. The Brightwood course used an old residence on the property, built by architect Henry Elliot, as the first clubhouse. The property offered excellent vistas of the Halifax and the Bedford Basin. The course was officially opened by Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden on July 3, 1914. Unfortunately, the course was not ready for play and Borden only drove a ball off the first tee. The course opened two weeks later for play on July 17th, 1914.
The course was updated by British Open Champion Willie Park Jr. In July 1919 in Canadian Golfer magazine it was reported, “He was rearranging the links while there.” In the same article, Willie Park Jr. told Ralph Reville of Canadian Golfer, “The situation at Brightwood is very fine, and they will have a first-class golf course when the suggested alterations are carried out.”
A local Halifax writer would write, “Probably the view that impresses artists and lovers of scenic beauty most is that obtained from the highest point on the course. Gazing southward the view is magnificent. In the foreground is the panorama of the golf course, the green of the trees contrasting with the vivid emerald of the velvety greens and the darker green of the rough.
Beyond this fine sweep of country, sparkles the entrance of the harbour and the blue Atlantic. On Saturday the white sails of the yachts and other boats made the water seem bluer and the angry surf can be seen leaping up at the foot of the picturesque lighthouse on Meager’s Beach and hurling itself against Chebucto Head which gleamed purple and gold in the bright sunlight.”
In 1921, designer Donald Ross was hired to help the club expand to eighteen holes. He presented a plan to the Brightwood Golf & Country Club that included a second nine holes as well as a redesign of the original nine holes. This plan was adopted. But the work would not be completed in the mid-1920s. In September 1921, C.E. Creighton of the club told Canadian Golfer, “We expected to have been on our new nine holes before this, but the weather has been so dry and the new turf has not grown in as expected., consequently we will play on our old nine until late in the season.”
In December 1922 Canadian Golfer mentions that Halifax is building a new 18-hole golf course at Brightwood, in Dartmouth. Reville mentions, “They are carting away rocks and cutting down trees to make an eighteen.” This work took time to accomplish because it wasn’t until August 1924 that Brightwood Golf and Country Club became the first club in the Maritimes to furnish its members with an 18-hole course. The following is from a review on the course in Canadian Golfer in March of 1926: “Brightwood Golf and Country Club, at Dartmouth across the harbour from Halifax, draws its membership from both Halifax and Dartmouth. Its second nine holes wore put into play during the summer of 1924 and have fully justified the generous expenditure involved in carving them out of the forest primeval.
The course has an entirely different character being on high ground at 350 sea level and affording magnificent overlooks of the Bedford Basin.” The article continues later, “The course measures 5,750 yards.” It goes on to share some observations on the golf course, “A tricky situation confronts the player at the No. 2 hole with its wide ravine and misleading slopes. At No. 7 the player faces a green which at a little distance slopes sharply, giving the new player the curious impression that he is driving straight into the Atlantic Ocean.” The first Men’s Nova Scotia Amateur Championship was conducted in 1927 at the Brightwood Golf and Country Club. Dartmouth native and Brightwood member Frank Miekle won the first amateur with a round of 81 – 73 – 73 – 73 – 300. In 1959 the Brightwood CC purchased 450 acres on the Porto Bello property but never did expand or build on that site. The 1921 Donald Ross layout of the golf course remains to this day.
An active club for more than a century Brightwood is home to 800+ members. Besides golf, the club has always been a high-energy social club hosting many member events, charity galas, corporate seminars and weddings, to name but a few. Although the great majority of Brightwood members play the game for the enjoyment and friendly competitions the club offers, the Brightwood membership has a proud legacy of being home to more provincial and national champions than any other Nova Scotia club.