GOLF HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF CANADA

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Nicol Thompson (1880 - 1957)
by Doug Marshall


Nicol Thompson was the first child of ten born to James and Jeannie Thompson. There were six sons and four daughters with all the sons and a couple of the girls being involved with golf. Stanley the fourth son born in 1893 went on to become Canada's foremost golf architect designing golf courses coast to coast that remain to this day amongst the best in Canada. The other boys became fine golfers winning numerous provincial and Canadian championships. Jim Barclay in his fine Bio of Stanley titled "The Toronto Terror" includes a complete chapter on the golfing successes of brothers Bill, Frank and Matt.

The Thompson family at their Toronto home around 1900
The Thompson family at their Toronto home around 1900. Nicol is standing, back right. Stanley is seated in front of their father, front right. Bill is standing back centre. Matt is seated front left, with Frank next to him. Isabel is standing back left, Marion seated back centre, Betty seated front right, and the youngest, Jean, seated front centre.

Nicol caddied at Toronto Golf Club while in school and having learned some clubmaking skills in 1899 he went to Hamilton Golf and Country Cub as professional. In 1902 he returned to Toronto Golf Club to learn more from George Cumming now two years into his tenure there.

Nicol spent 1903 back at Hamilton and then moved to the US. After several years in Birmingham Alabama he returned to Hamilton in 1912 to become pro, staying till the end of 1945. His winters were spent as head pro at Riddell's Bay and Belmont Hotel Golf Clubs in Bermuda.

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The Thompson brothers in 1923 - left to right, Frank, Matt, Nicol, Stanley and Bill

He also did some work as a golf course architect. He had a hand in the original Hamilton Golf and Country Club which was the original course at Chedoke in West Hamilton. He also joined brother Stanley in his Design Co. to help with numerous designs including the new course at Chedoke called the Beddoe in 1950.

He was a fine player and in 1922 won the CPGA championship. But the real legacy was his record in producing fine players as per his mentor George Cumming. Two of these were his sons Nicol Jr. and Joe. Nicol Jr. won the Ontario Boys Championship in 1925 and 1926. He later turned pro and was the first pro/manager at Niagara Parks ( Whirlpool ) in the 1950's. As a kid growing up in Niagara I well remember his distinct managerial style.

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Nicol Thompson (left) with Andy Kay, in the late 1920s or early 1930s

Younger brother Joe was three times runnerup in the Ontario Amateur between 1932 and 1938. Nicknamed "Little Joe" he became an air gunner in World War Two and was killed in action.

Nicol passed on in 1957 at age 77.

Nicol Thompson in his later years
Nicol Thompson in his later years