“A historically beautiful course, Highlands was constructed in 1929 surrounding the Premier Coal Mine. The Club was built on the idea that men needed to start considering the importance of a healthy work/life balance”

The Beginning - 1929-1939

Opening Day - May 10th, 1930
Construction of the new Highlands Golf Course began in the spring of 1929. The first nine holes were completed by the fall of 1929, surrounding the Premier Coal Mine, and play commenced in the spring of 1930. The original officers of the club were President H.A. Parlee, Vice-President Dr. Atkinson, Secretary-Treasurer W. Brown, Directors George H. Van Allen, R.C. Marshall and H.L. Humphreys. Mayor A.U.G. Bury turned the first sod in the construction of the new Highlands Golf Course and made some comments that embodied the club’s philosophy.

Mayor Bury believed that in 1929 there was a movement afoot which was passing over the face of life, civic and national, changing the viewpoint of the importance of work and money-making on one hand, and physical, mental and social enjoyment on the other. He believed people were coming to realize that a man's life consisted not in the abundance of things which he had, but in health, happiness, friendship, sympathy, helpfulness, a wider outlook and a sense of proportion. He believed that these things came to us more in the open air than in the stuffy confines of an office or factory. Furthermore, he stated at the time that the change in view and practice was not to be confined to the very rich or moderately rich, but should reach, with its benefits and blessings, those of moderate means.
The Highlands Golf Club's first lease with the City of Edmonton was for a 21-year term with a 20-year option to renew. The club did not pay any rent for the first two years of its lease and then paid $6.00 per acre, or approximately $408.00, per year. Under the terms of the lease, the club was required to spend $20,000 to construct the course and build a clubhouse.  Originally the Highlands Golf Club was authorized to sell 100 shares.

The west nine holes were constructed first and the east nine holes were completed by 1931. In 1930, green fees for a shareholder and his wife were $35.00. Tom Henderson was the club's first greens superintendent. The original west nine was 3276 yards with a par of 37.
In the initial years of the club, a program of events was published. In 1930, the Men's Club Championship was called the Parlee Cup. The entrance fee was $1.00 and a qualifying round of 18 holes was played. The lowest 16 scores qualified for the championship flight, and the following groups of 16 players qualified for the remaining flights. The remainder of the competition was match play.

The Ladies' Club Championship was called the Van Allen Cup. It was 18 holes match play with an entrance fee of $1.00. Other competitions in 1930 included the Kirkland Cup, which was Men's Handicap Match Play, and the Ladies Medal Handicap Dr. Atkinson's Cup. The men also had a novice handicap competition for the Robert MacDonald Trophy, with men having a handicap of 25 and over. The ladies novice handicap was the R.C. Marshall Trophy, with ladies having a handicap of 30 and over.

In 1932, the Highlands Golf Club introduced the President versus Vice-President Team competition, interclub matches, and mixed foursomes.

The same year, reciprocal golfing arrangements were arranged with the Mayfair Golf and Country Club for the usual green fee of $1.00 per day including Sundays and holidays. In 1932, the greens budget included a salary for the professional in the amount of $1050.00 for the season; for the foreman $100.00 per month; teamsters $75.00 per month; and laborers $65.00 per month. The equipment list included horses, and the total budget was $6696.00.

In 1938, a new and spacious clubhouse for the Highlands Golf Club opened. The original clubhouse was enlarged and refurbished for a total cost of $5000.00. The opening of the clubhouse was marked with a mixed greensome and the Martell Brothers staging their third defense of the Challenge Trophy.

The War Years - 1939-1949

On September 10, 1939, Canada declared war on Germany and entered World War II. The same year, the Highlands Golf Club had 14 new members and published the Highland Golfer. This newsletter reported the members’ curling results, ice skating events and ski meets, plus all the golf news, advertisements and clever poems. It was noted in the newsletter that the house of Henry Martell, perennial champ, was blessed with the arrival of a sonnaire, Robert Clyde, and that Brian Jennings burned up the course with a net 74. Ladies swing classes showed an attendance of 47.
In 1940, the Junior Girls Club at the Highlands Golf Club was in its third year and was the only club of its kind in Edmonton. It operated in both winter and summer, with the winter club receiving lessons from Golf Professional Harry Shaw.
In 1940, Alex Olynyk, Highlands Head Professional, enlisted and Muzz Kozak assumed his duties for the balance of the year.  McGregor golf clubs sold for $4.00 to $12.00 each, and in matched sets from $12.00 to $85.00; higher quality golf clubs were between $12.95 and $29.75; golf balls were 3 for $1.00 (Trueline), 50 cents each (McGregor), and  59 cents each (Matchplay).

In 1941, the Canadian Ladies Golf Union organized a funding drive to raise $25,000.00 to buy a Spitfire airplane. After many golf, bridge, dinner, beer and bingo events were held by female members in the Highlands and golf clubs across Canada, the Spitfire was purchased early in 1942 and was used in combat missions in North Africa. In 1942,Mrs. J. Watson won the City of Edmonton Ladies Amateur Championship. In 1946, Henry Martell won the Canadian Amateur from Kenny Black, scoring a hole-in-one on Mayfair's 16th hole. Two years later, Henry Martell became Head Professional at the Highlands Golf Club. 

The Boom Years - 1949-1959

In 1951, long-time prominent member Johnny Glasgow was elected President and Club Officials were as follows: E. (Pem) Wood, Secretary-Manager; E.A. Hamilton, Vice-President; F. Leah, Honorary Secretary; Walter Ewenson, Club Captain, H.S. Millar, Finance Chairman; Gar Lush, Greens Chairman; E.A. Hamilton, Membership Chairman, Ed New, House Chairman; Art New, Entertainment Chairman; and Alex Lada, Discipline Chairman.

By this time, Henry Martell was being recognized as the game's outstanding performer in the number of times he had won distinction for the Highlands, the city, and the province. As an amateur, he was a golfing policeman and formerly a police constable. He began winning Provincial Amateur Tournaments in 1936, and in 1953 he became the Canadian Professional Golfer Association Champion. Henry held the course record at the Highlands Golf Club with a 65. He shot a 29 on the back nine of the Highlands scoring, at that time a world record 8 birdies in a row.

In 1951, Betty Stanhope (Cole) won the Junior Championship in the Province of Alberta, and in 1952 she won the City Junior Championship. In 1953, the city tournament at the Country Club allowed women to wear slacks for the first time (only because of the hordes of mosquitoes that particular year).

A news article in 1955 recorded that the future of golf in Alberta appeared to be brighter than its past and referred to young hotshots like Doug Silverberg, Red Deer ace Mike Richards, Buddy Loftus, Ray Milligan and Betty Stanhope (Cole). In 1955, there were 38 member clubs in the Alberta Golf Association, with a membership totaling more than 3500. At this time, Edmonton had five courses and still in the 1950s a very popular event at the Highlands Golf Club was "Tea". 

Course Renovation Years - 1959-1969

In the early 1960s, a new Pro Shop was built, and soon thereafter, the front nine and back nine were reversed so the Pro Shop could better monitor the first hole.

It took two years to build the Capilano Freeway, which is now Wayne Gretzky Drive. This roadway, which intersected the golf course, provided convenient access between the north and south sides of the city. Bob Stanhope dealt with the city on behalf of the club and insisted a tunnel be installed between the 15th and 16th hole at the time the freeway was being built, and that the fence on hole 17 be erected halfway up the hill and not at the bottom, as suggested by the city.

The slide slant on hole 2 was also reduced, the ravine on hole 3 partially filled, and the bridge on this hole removed. In 1963, the ladies' first President was elected.

"Changing of the Guard" Years - 1969-1979

This decade saw the Social Credit government ousted after 36 years in power in Alberta, and the election of Peter Lougheed as Premier.

In 1971, John Winkel retired after 21 years as Highlands Golf Club course superintendent, and in 1978, Henry Martell retired after 30 years as the club's head professional.

A major renovation was done to the clubhouse in 1970 for a cost of $63,000.00. The fireplace was removed and the building was extended with a large balcony added so people putting on the 9th green on a nice day were exposed to cheers and jeers. During this decade, a master plan was developed for the course and the southern boundary changed to a mesh fence instead of the river.

In 1977, the club's constitution was amended to authorize the Highlands to issue an additional 150 shares. 

The Modern Years - 1979-1989

In 1979, the Highlands Golf Club celebrated its 50th anniversary with a 36-hole pro-am type tournament. In 1980, the province celebrated its 75th anniversary and bestowed upon the City of Edmonton, Capital City Park. As a result, lost cyclists became a common sight on the course.

1983 was a banner year for record low scores, with both Ken Tamke and Ray Rhoades shooting 65 at the Highlands. On June 3, 1985, who else but Betty Cole set the ladies' course record at 68.

In 1986, the North Saskatchewan River flooded. This had a major impact on the Windermere Golf and Country Club, and also seriously flooded hole 8 at the Highlands. In 1988, the Highlands Golf Club presented to the Edmonton Ladies Golf Association a new city ladies trophy in honor of Betty Cole. In 1989, Betty Cole won her 25th Ladies City Championship and the Betty Cole Trophy for the first time.

This decade saw the inception of the Henry Martell Memorial Pro-Am and the Labor Day Classic.

In the modern years, many golfing aids were installed such as 150-yard markers, customized golf carts, ground yardage markers, red, white and blue colored flags, colored fairway markers and a computer to calculate handicaps. In addition, much contouring was done, the weekend ballot system was put in place, and the 48-hour booking requirement began. An automated underground watering system was installed, and the club purchased rake traps and machines to pick up leaves.

From 1979 to 1989, the Men's Club Championship was essentially a tug-of-war between Ken Tamke and John Gallimore, with Ken winning it six times and John winning it four times. Ray Rhoades interfered with the Tamke/Gallimore stranglehold by winning the championship in 1980, andin 1989, Betty Cole won the Ladies Club Championship for the 29th time. Ray Milne also celebrated his 10th anniversary as Club Professional that year.

In 1989, after many long years of negotiations, the City of Edmonton and the Highlands Golf Club executed a 50-year lease with a 10-year renewal. This committee, composed of Cliff Williams, Bob Joly, Peter Chomicki (Q.C.), Mr. Justice Allan Wachowich, Doug Shillington and Ernie Koroluk, helped secure the future of the Highlands Golf Club.