The Sunningdale Neighbourhood
Sunningdale is one of London’s most prestigious developments. A suburban enclave on the northern boundary of the city, the neighbourhood is characterized by its numerous custom and executive homes. This area is home to the city’s highest property values. Although thoroughly suburban, Sunningdale is also in close proximity to Masonville Mall and the numerous big box stores clustered around the Richmond and Fanshawe intersection. Its location also offers a relatively short commute into the downtown, making it attractive to many of the city’s professionals. The area home to Sunningdale Golf and Country Club, from which the neighbourhood derives its name.
Sunningdale Golf & Country Club
Stanley Thompson is Canada’s most renowned Golf Course Architect. Defining the principals of modern golf course architecture, Thompson applied his considerable design skills to Sunningdale in 1933, in his layout of the East (Old) course.
Stanley Thompson not only created architectural masterpieces, but he also helped change the way we play the game. In developing his style, he was mindful of providing designs which would appeal to all levels of players. He believed in the recreation of golf and its benefits. This design attitude led to his penchant for providing outstanding views to enhance the recreational pleasure of golf. He had an innate ability to route a course through a property to take into account the advantageous natural characteristics. His forced carry par-3’s, often across water or to greens perched on stark plateaus, remain today his most enduring legacy to the design craft and have been reprises in the subsequent work of many of his colleagues and partners. His resort courses at Banff Springs and Jasper in the Canadian Rockies remain two of the greatest mountain courses ever built.
Among those who apprenticed or collaborated with him have been Geoffrey Cornish, Robert Trent Jones, Sr., Clinton Robinson, Robert Moote and Howard Watson. He completed 200 courses, the majority in Canada, but including courses in Brazil, Colombia, British West Indies and the United States. His courses have such respect and admiration among golfing purists that there is now a Stanley Thompson Society that continues to foster the design ideas and golfing challenges that Stanley pioneered.
When it came time to expand Sunningdale to a full 36 holes, who better to call on than one of Stanley Thompson’s star pupils, Clinton Robinson. “Robbie” did a masterful job of understanding the nature of the original layout, and he thoughtfully integrated a complementary new course that took into account the beautiful ravine and pond that lay to the south of Sunningdale Road. The “new” course, as many senior members still call it, is now well over 30 years old and has matured to become a proper rival to the original 18 in both beauty and as a terrific test of golf.
Many exciting competitions have been hosted by the club since the first Ontario Championships was played in 1937, won by our own C. Ross Somerville; the Canadian Ladies Championship in the mid-fifties; the Wishing Well sponsored C.P.G.A. events of the early sixties; the outstanding Supertest Classics with the Ladies of the L.P.G.A. tour events in Canada for the girls; the 1980 Canadian Junior Girls Championship, the 1974 Canadian Junior Boys Championship, the Ontario Championships played in 1983 on two courses for the first time in O.G.A. history; many C.L.G.A. or Ontario events; many O.G.A. Championships Seniors, Parent-Child etc. and the Canadian Seniors Golf Association Tournaments on many occasions.
In 1984, as part of the Fiftieth Anniversary celebrations, our members welcome the return of the Canadian Amateur Championships and Willingdon Cup Interprovincial Team Matches after an absence of twenty-two years. 2004 marked the 70th Anniversary of Sunningdale’s founding.
Sunningdale’s history is a reflection of and a tribute to three generations of the Thompson family. J. Gordon Thompson (known by all as the “Colonel”) was a family man, a businessman, a sportsman and a golfer. Born in Aylmer in 1894 he served in the armed forces in World War I and afterwards became involved in the manufacturing of gasoline pumps, and subsequently the selling of gasoline. In 1932 J. Gordon Thompson bought a 100-acre farm 3 miles north of the old London city limits.
One Sunday morning, the picture of a perfect par 3 flashed before his mind’s eye as he gazed across the bend in the Medway Creek to the natural shelf on the far side. The spot from which the first thought was conceived is now the 5th tee of the Thompson Course and that vision has become a reality. It’s a perfect par 3.
The services of Stanley Thompson, internationally reputed course designer, were enlisted. Sunningdale, a famous course near London, England, suggested the club’s name, and on July 14th, 1934, nine holes were open for play. The full 18 holes were ready for play during the 1935 season, and, as intended, the layout was of real championship calibre.
James G. Thompson was appointed Chairman of the Building and Construction Committee at Sunningdale in 1972. He initiated and completed a study on water requirements and clubhouse expansion needs for future years. Jim was elected President of the Club in 1983. In his role as Greens Committee Chairman, Jim continues his commitment to maintain Sunningdale as one of the top golf courses in Ontario.
Gordon R. Thompson is the third generation of the Thompson family at Sunningdale. He worked in the “back shop” while attending high school and also played a little golf in his spare time, or as he says with a grin, “when Jimmy Windsor wasn’t cracking the whip.” Gord became General Manager in 1992 and continued in that role until he became Sunningdale’s President in 1995. Very much a “hands on” person, he has spent his time and energy learning about every aspect of Sunningdale; the members, the employees, the care and condition of the courses, the equipment, in short everything that mattered. Gord’s determination to see Sunningdale continue and prosper is evidenced by 1999 hiring of KPMG to assist in the Club’s strategic planning. Under Gord’s leadership, Sunningdale has reestablish it’s position as one of the top courses in Southwestern Ontario. Complete new computerized irrigation systems, refined bunker designs with imported Ohio sand, new forward tee decks allowing a wider variety of playing skills, the best practice facility in the area, and a prestigious new clubhouse designed with a heritage look and feel has elevated Sunningdale to a levels unmatched by other area clubs.
Parks and Other Places of Interest
Sunningdale is home to Medway Heritage Valley Trail, Pebble Creek Park, Pinnacle Park, Mcgarrell Walk, Valley Run Park, Plane Tree Park and Trooper Mark Wilson Park.
The neighbourhood is also home to St. Catherine of Siena Catholic School.
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