B.C.'s Gail Graham, A.V. Macan Latest Inductees Into Canadian Golf Hall Of Fame

BC's Gail Graham (L) Is The Newest Member Of The Canadian Golf Hall Of Fame To Go In As A Player, While Renowned Golf Course Architect A.V. Macan Was Inducted Posthumously In The Builder Category - Images Courtesy Canadian Golf Hall of Fame Archives

By Brad Ziemer, British Columbia Golf

Gail Graham has always had a connection of sorts to A.V. Macan, one that was strengthened Thursday when the two British Columbians were announced as the latest inductees into the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame.

Graham, a two-time winner on the LPGA Tour, is an honorary member at Kelowna Golf & Country Club, one of many courses that the prolific Macan designed in B.C. and throughout the U.S. Pacific Northwest. Graham’s brother, Rob Anderson, also happens to be the head professional at Kelowna.

“Probably one of my favourite golf courses on the LPGA Tour was Columbia-Edgewater (in Portland), another of his designs,” Graham said of Macan on a conference call with reporters.

“I wondered why it suited my eyes so well. And we also played on the Legends Tour at Inglewood in Kirkland, Wash. . .So we have a link, though I didn’t really realize it until I started reading his bio. Obviously I knew he was the designer of Kelowna Golf & Country Club, but it sure ties things together and explains my love of that type of parkland golf course that is treed and just very picturesque to the eyes.”

Graham never met Macan. That would have been tough. Macan died in 1964, the same year Graham was born. But on Tuesday, July 24, they will enter the Hall of Fame together at an induction ceremony at Glen Abbey Golf Course during the week of the RBC Canadian Open.

Thursday’s conference call was an emotional one for both Graham and Macan’s grandson, Matthew Macan, who joined the proceedings from England. Graham fought back tears as she thanked her family and others who had helped her on the journey. 

“I am just incredibly humbled and honoured and excited and teary,” said Graham, a Vanderhoof native who called Kelowna home for many years. “I am just over the moon and so honoured and so very lucky to be going into the hall with another inductee in A.V. Macan who I have some ties to. I think it is a nice little fit for the both us.”

Graham joked that she now wants to try and play all of Macan’s courses. That may be difficult, as there are so many of them. And so many good ones. Macan’s designs include the likes of Royal Colwood in Victoria and Metro Vancouver courses like Shaughnessy, Marine Drive, Richmond and University.

Some of his noted creations south of the border include Fircrest in Tacoma, Broadmoor in Seattle, Overlake in Bellevue, Wash., Columbia-Edgewater in Portland and California Golf Club in San Francisco.

image credit canadian golf hall of fame archives

Gail Graham Was Inducted Into The BC Golf Hall Of Fame In 2015

Matthew Macan spoke with considerable pride of the accomplishments of his grandfather, a man he never met. In fact, it was not until the 1990s that his family became aware of Macan’s remarkable body of work. Macan came to Canada from Ireland, where he had trained as a lawyer, in 1908. He settled in the Victoria area, joining Victoria Golf Club and won two B.C. Amateur titles in 1912 and 1913.

Macan lost the lower portion of his left leg at Vimy Ridge in 1917 while serving with the Canadian military during the First World War. He continued to play competitively as an amateur after the war but golf architecture was his true love. “As a family we are absolutely delighted and honored that this has been bestowed upon him and I feel that this is very much a reflection of the quality of Mac and his vision and his tenacity,” Matthew Macan said.

“His designs seem to have endured through history. It is 135 years since he was born and I would guess that golf courses and the technology has changed dramatically in that period of time. But it has been 100 years since he designed Royal Colwood with a pencil and a piece of paper and it seems to be quite extraordinary.”

Graham and Macan are the 80th and 81st inductees into the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame, which is located at Golf Canada’s headquarters in Oakville, Ont.  Graham said she is thrilled to be joining two of her British Columbia golfing pals, Lisa Walters and the late Dawn Coe-Jones, in the hall of fame.

“We had loads of fun,” Graham said. “The two of them together were quite the pair. Lisa was the comedian and Dawn was sort of her straight person in the humour department. The two of them led the way for B.C. and when I think about Dawn, especially with me going to Lamar (University in Texas) and Jennifer Wyatt coming in behind us, we had a pretty good contingent of B.C. and Canadian players.”

Wyatt, herself a winner on the LPGA Tour, called in from Richmond to congratulate Graham. “Let me be the first to say to you, Gail, woo-hoo!,” Wyatt said. “I am so happy for you. I met Gail when I was about 16 and we played on so many teams together. . . I just have to say you were focused and organized before I knew what those terms meant. You deserve this and congrats.”

Graham’s two LPGA Tour wins came at the 1995 Fieldcrest Canon Classic and the 1997 Alpine Australian Ladies Masters. That second win is the most memorable, as she beat Australian Karrie Webb -- then on her way to becoming one of the world’s top players -- by a single shot with her parents there to watch it.

Graham spent considerable time as a player member on the LPGA board, including a two-year stint as president. She spent six years as head of the LPGA Tournament Owners Association and now works as an instructor and is president of the LPGA’s Legends Tour. Graham also does some TV work in Canada during the CP Canadian Women’s Open.

Having seen the LPGA Tour from all sides, Graham thinks women’s golf is in a good place. “I am thrilled for the LPGA,” she said. “It is a global tour now. In my era it was hard to accept the tour becoming global. We kind of wanted to stay in North America and play here. Now you see the influx of incredible players from all around the world and the tour going to those countries to play.

“Obviously I am most thrilled about our Canadian contingent and watching Brooke (Henderson) sort of take the LPGA by storm and wishing I had had only been 18 years old when I hit the LPGA Tour to have those extra years. The LPGA is on a wonderful trajectory. The play is incredible and the ball-striking, the distance, the short game, the putting, it is such a phenomenal level of play and I don’t think the ladies get enough credit for it.”

It was Jeff Mingay, a fellow Canadian golf architect, who nominated Macan for a hall of fame induction that many see as long overdue. Mingay called Macan a pioneer in North American golf course architecture. “It is a amazing that a century later many of these courses haven’t changed,” Mingay said. “Golfers are enjoying them the way they did nearly a century ago.

“You go to Colwood today and the fundamental structure of the golf course hasn’t changed at all. A couple of greens have been rebuilt, some bunkers filled in, etcetera, but the layout remains exactly the way it was in 1913. That not only speaks to the talents he had as a golf course designer, but again to the pioneering effort. It just absolutely amazes me and is such an important point to emphasize.”