British Columbia

A Burnaby women's golf club celebrates 50 years. That means a lot to this longtime player

Moira Colbourne, 85, is one of the longest-standing members of the Burnaby Mountain Ladies’ Golf Club, which is celebrating 50 years of sport this week. She said the camaraderie golf offers has been invaluable during the pandemic.

Burnaby Mountain Ladies' Golf Club marks 50 years this week; Moira Colbourne has seen 43 of them

Moira Colbourne tees off. A longtime high-level field hockey player, Colbourne's favourite part of the round is driving — she says using the driver reminds her of using a field hockey stick. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

In more ways than one, Moira Colbourne has a heck of a drive.

Colbourne, 85, is one of the longest-standing members of the Burnaby Mountain Ladies' Golf Club, which is celebrating 50 years of play and camaraderie this week. 

Colbourne has been a member for 43 of those years and when she nails a long ball from the tee box, it's plain to see why she has no plans to slow down.

"I just love it. The women are lovely. It's lots of fun," Colbourne said.

She said the club has been an invaluable source of connection for decades but even more so in recent months.

Colbourne, 85, at the Burnaby Mountain Golf Course. Colbourne is one of the longest-standing members of the Burnaby Mountain Ladies' Golf Club. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

"The seniors, they are ... just stuck at home," said Colbourne, noting it was difficult for her and the other club members when golf was suspended briefly in 2020 when the pandemic first emerged. 

"That really upset all of us because we really looked forward to our Tuesday golf," she said.

"And then, boy, when they finally said that we could [resume play]… it was just super."

Club leaders say they take pride in the active participation of senior members like Colbourne and on how the club has grown from a time when fewer women played the game.

Colbourne plays golf for fun and to keep a sense of community — but adds she's very competitive with herself. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

A field hockey star

Golf isn't Colbourne's first athletic pursuit: she is honoured for her contributions to field hockey in the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame and the Field Hockey Canada Hall of Fame.

She played internationally for Canada, competing in international tournaments in 1959 and 1971. She also held numerous coaching and management positions at the youth, varsity and provincial levels from the 1960s onward.

Colbourne, left, played field hockey at a high level for decades. She also served as a coach and manager at various levels. (BC Sports Hall of Fame)

But in 1973 she developed ulcerative colitis. She needed surgery and had to stop playing at a high level.

Still, she felt that competitive itch.

"The doctor said [to my husband], get Moira doing something. Buy her golf clubs!" she said.

"Once I got the clubs and I got playing, I just loved it."

She joined the club in 1978 but old habits, it seems, die hard.

"I like using my driver, because it feels like field hockey … when I connect and you hear that nice sound.

"I'm still very competitive [with] myself. It doesn't matter that I don't win," she said, quickly adding that she does in fact win sometimes. 

Colbourne says she wants to play until she's 90 and sees no reason why that can't happen.

'It's still a struggle on some issues'

British Columbia Golf said Burnaby Mountain Ladies' Golf Club is one of the older independent women's golf clubs in the Lower Mainland.

"It took [club founder Alice Rankin] the better part of a year to convince the parks board that we needed a shelf to write on and a bench to sit on to change shoes," says a written history of the club notes.

Colbourne, front row, fourth from right, poses in a 1959 photo with a Canadian team in Ramsgate, England. (BC Sports Hall of Fame)

Club vice-captain Audrey Lindsay, 74, joined the club in 2006 but first started playing golf in the 1970s.

"It was new for women, I think, to be involved in golf a lot at that time," Lindsay said. "It was definitely more geared toward men."

She said while the women's game has grown since then, there are still examples of inequality. For instance, women's facilities at some golf courses are not as comprehensive as those for men.

"It's still a struggle on some issues to get it more gender neutral," she said. "A lot of the things are still run by men and so that makes it a little more difficult."

Lindsay said clubs like hers have helped create opportunities for women to discover the game.

She, Colbourne and others will mark the club's 50th anniversary Tuesday with their usual round at Burnaby Mountain Golf Course, decked in snazzy gold attire for the occasion.

LISTEN | Colbourne chats with Stephen Quinn, host of CBC's The Early Edition:

Moira Colbourn speaks with Stephen Quinn about the benefits of a round during the challenges of Covid-19. 7:50

CBC Vancouver's Impact Team investigates and reports on stories that impact people in their local community and strives to hold individuals, institutions and organizations to account. If you have a story for us, email impact@cbc.ca.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Liam Britten

Digital journalist

Liam Britten is an award-winning journalist for CBC Vancouver. You can contact him at liam.britten@cbc.ca or follow him on Twitter: @liam_britten. Liam contributes to CBC Vancouver's Impact Team, where he investigates and reports on stories that impact people in their local community.

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