More than a half century ago, a group of prominent Clevelanders with a shared interest in playing golf on a championship course gathered at the University Club in Cleveland, Ohio and founded Canterbury Golf Club Inc.
Incorporated on February 2, 1921, the founders selected a 146-acre site, in what then was a relatively undeveloped portion of Shaker Heights and Beachwood, approximately ten miles southeast of downtown Cleveland. The site was chosen because of its high elevation, rolling hills, flowing brooks and lush wooded areas.
Work on the new Canterbury course quickly began, with the first nine holes opening July 1, 1922. The second nine holes were added soon after.
Since that time, Canterbury has attained a national reputation for a course that can tax the skills of the greatest professionals, yet can be played by both men and women golfers for fun and relaxation.
Tournaments & Championships
The Canterbury course was designed to meet the requirements (length, layout, terrain, fairness and condition) of championship play. Since 1932, the course has hosted 13 major tournaments and championships.
2009 Senior PGA Championship
After hosting the 70th Senior PGA Championship on May 21-24, 2009, Canterbury Golf Club became the second U.S. club to host all five men’s rotating major championships: the PGA Championship, the Senior PGA Championship, the U.S. Open, the Senior U.S. Open and the U.S. Amateur. Michael Allen won the Alfred S. Bourne Trophy in his Champions Tour debut. After receiving a special invitation from the PGA of America, as he had no status on the Champions Tour, Allen shot a winning score of 6-under 274. He was one of only three players to finish under par for the tournament.
The Championship provided Allen with plenty of high-caliber competition, including former Masters champion, Larry Mize, who finished second (67). Bruce Fleisher, former Champions Tour Player, finished in third place (67-277), and eight-time major winner Tom Watson finished the final round on Sunday with the low round of a day: a six-birdie, two-bogey 66 that earned him a fourth-place finish.
The final group, which included former major champions Tom Kite and Jeff Sluman, was anxiously awaited for, as many spectators expected the winner to come from here. Kite (75) had two bogeys in his first four holes, and Sluman finished with a 73 after bogeying the first two holes, taking both out of contention for a first-place finish. Allen, who hadn’t won in 334 starts on the PGA Tour, played like a champion to capture the victory and the hearts of many.
The Western Open
In 1932, Walter Hagen won the 32nd Western Open with an even par 288. Five years later, in 1937, the Western Open returned and Ralph Guldahl won with a one-under 287, but only after a playoff with Horton Smith.
The U.S. Open
The first U.S. Open played at Canterbury was in 1940, at the outset of World War II. Many of the experts at the time predicted that the field would shatter the course par of 288. It was not. Lawson Little and Gene Sarazen tied at 287 after the regulation 72 holes. Sarazen slipped to 73 in the 18-hole playoff and Little took the title by three shots. No other player shot or broke par.
Many national golf championships were suspended during World War II. However, when the U.S. Open resumed, Canterbury was chosen as the site for the first postwar contest in 1946. Lloyd Mangrum, Byron Nelson and Victor Ghezzi all had four-under-par 284. In the first 18-hole playoff, all three again tied with 72. In the second playoff, Mangrum was three strokes behind Ghezzi and two behind Nelson with six holes to play. In spite of a thunderstorm, Mangrum birdied three of the holes to come in with another 72 to beat both Ghezzi and Nelson by one stroke.
The USGA Amateur Championship
In 1964, Canterbury was host to 150 top amateur golfers for the USGA Amateur Championship. The six-day tournament opened with two rounds of medal play on Monday and Tuesday. It is interesting to note that the lowest score for 18 holes was a 69 and for 36 holes 143. Sixty-four players qualified for match play, which began on Wednesday. Many of the favorites and early leaders were soon eliminated, including defending champion Deane Beman. On Saturday, the last day, two veteran amateurs and old friends, Bill Campbell of Huntington, West Virginia, and Ed Tutwiler of Indianapolis, found themselves competing in the final match. The match was a thriller with neither player ever in the lead more than one hole. At the 35th hole of the 36-hole match, Campbell pulled ahead to a dramatic finish, winning by one stroke.
In 1979, the USGA Amateur returned to Canterbury. The field was headed by defending Champion John Cook and included many players the likes of Fred Couples and the late Payne Stewart who went on to achieve success on the PGA tour. The tournament was won by Mark O'Meara who went on to win the Masters and British Open during his stellar career, Mark returned to Canterbury on the 25th Anniversary of his victory and is now an honorary member along with our 1964 Champion Billy Cambell.
The PGA Championship
In 1973, Canterbury attracted the attention of the entire golfing world when it was the scene of the 1973 PGA Championship. Participants included former PGA Championship and U.S. Open Champions for the last five years, the 25 low scorers in the 1972 PGA Championship, and the 70 leaders in official point standings in 1972 and 1973. Practically the entire Canterbury membership (and those invited from other clubs) pitched in to help conduct one of the most exciting events in golfing history.
On the first day of regular play, Bud Allin, Don Iverson and Al Geiberger all shot a 67 to match the course record. On the following day, Iverson dropped to a 72, but held the lead for the first two rounds with Mason Rudolph, who shot had a 69 and a 70. Iverson and Rudolph both had third round 70s to remain even. In the fourth round, Iverson had a 74 for a total one-under-par 283 and a tie with Don Sikes and Tom Weiskopf. Rudolph had a final round 73 to tie with J.C. Snead and Lanny Wadkins at 282. The Golden Bear, Jack Nicklaus, moved into the top spot in the third round with a 68. On Sunday, Nicklaus dropped a birdie putt on No. 15 to go eight under for the tournament. However, a bogey on No. 18 cost him a record for the largest victory margin in any PGA Championship. More importantly, this victory was Nicklaus' 14th major championship, breaking the record held by the legendary Bobby Jones.
Canterbury was the host of the 1996 U.S. Senior Open Championship won by Dave Stockton. More recently, four Senior T.P.C. tournaments, 1983 through 1986 and the 1989 Ameritech Senior Open were played at Canterbury.
Round of Champions
Canterbury twice was the scene of the Round of Champions when target scores were set for National Golf Day, a nationwide charity event sponsored by the National Golf Foundation, the PGA and the Ladies Professional Golf Association.