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Important People in Sunningdale's History

Stanley Thompson

Stanley Thompson is Canada's most renowned Golf Course Architect.  Defining the principles 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-3s, often across water or to greens perched on stark plateaus, remain today his most enduring legacy to the design craft and have been reprised 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.

Stanley Thompson's best include:

  • Banff Springs Hotel GC, Banff, Alberta (1927)
  • Cape Breton Highlands, Nova Scotia (1935)
  • Capilano, Vancouver, British Columbia (1937)
  • Cataraqui, Kingston, Ontario (1928)
  • Jasper Park Lodge, GC Jasper, Alberta (1925)
  • St. George's, Toronto, Ontario (1929)

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.

To visit their site, click on the logo at right.

Clinton "Robbie" Robinson

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.

Perhaps his single most significant contribution to the game was in the study of turfgrass and the dissemination of this information through the establishment of the Canadian Turfgrass shows and as the Green Section director for the RCGA from 1949 to 1968.

Robbie was inducted into the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame in April of 2002 after designing more than 100 golf courses worldwide.

The "new" course, as many senior members still call it, is now well over 35 years old and has matured to become a proper rival to the original 18 in both beauty and as a terrific test of golf.

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.

While attending a movie theatre the Colonel noticed that two companies sponsored the film: "Super Duty" and "High Test".  Thus, came the name "Supertest" and the beginning of a new business venture.  From a humble station on Dundas Street (between Waterloo and Colborne Streets) the "Supertest" chain grew to hundreds of stations in Ontario with corporate headquarters at Richmond and Pall Mall Streets.  Supertest was purchased by BP Canada in 1970.


James G. Thompson

Jim Thompson, son of the founder, attended schools in London and at Ridley College in St. Catharines. He graduated as a Naval Officer from the Royal Canadian Naval College at Royal Roads, B.C. in 1946.  While attending the University of Toronto (Engineering) and the University of Western Ontario (Business), he continued to serve with the Naval Reserve on HMCS York and HMCS Prevost.

The 1950’s decade was an exciting era due to Jim’s interest in powerboat racing.  His engineering background proved helpful in designing and building "Miss Supertest".  All Canadians were drawn to the unfolding drama as the craft established many records on water.  Jim Thompson was elected to the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 1959 and inducted in 1960.

Jim 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 continued his commitment to maintain Sunningdale as one of the top golf courses in Ontario until his passing in 2021. 

Read more about Jim's life here

Gordon R. Thompson

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".

Gordon 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.

Gordon’s determination to see Sunningdale continue and prosper is evidenced by 1999 hiring of KPMG to assist in the Club’s strategic planning.  Under Gordon’s leadership, Sunningdale has re-established its 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 level unmatched by other area clubs.