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A Golfing Community for over 50 Years

The Markland Wood Golf Club was constructed to be a golfing community over 50 years ago.  As per our Vision Statement, we:

Deliver a premier club experience that satisfies a passion for exceptional golf, diverse programs and services, vibrant member engagement in an inviting atmosphere where lifetime friendships can be forged.

The members are truly proud of what our club has become, and where it is going. It continues to take care of local residents, and those looking for a special club in which you feel comfortable right away.

Club History & Facts

On October 15th, 1954, the most famous hurricane in Canadian history struck Southern Ontario. Hurricane Hazel was projected to dissipate before it hit Ontario but instead re-intensified unexpectedly and rapidly, pounding the Toronto region with winds that reached 110 kilometres per hour (68 mph) and 285 millimetres (11.23 inches) of rain in 48 hours.

After Hazel, the provincial government amended the Conservation Authorities Act to enable an authority to acquire lands for recreation and conservation purposes and to regulate that land for the safety of the community.  Markland Wood (or Mark’s Land) was purchased by Marc Cavotti from the Silverthorn family in September 1958.

Development started in 1960 after the Conservation Authority determined that approximately 25 per cent of the property acquired was unsuitable for house building. As a result, the Cavotti Group decided to use this property to develop a premier golf course around the subdivision - the Markland Wood Country Club.

Our Founder, Mr. Marc Cavotti
Marc Cavotti’s parents Rosalia and Angelo emigrated to Canada from Cavotto, Italy and settled in Toronto in the College Street area. Angelo became involved in the construction industry and eventually founded Leaside Construction - a sewer and road construction business. The Cavottis had five children; Marc, Dante, Ugene, Violet and Mafalda.

Three of the children became active in the family business. The family had an early introduction to Etobicoke when they spent their summers in the 1920s and ’30s at their “cottage” located at the southern end of Long Branch Avenue. The grand old home is still there. Leaside Construction grew with Marc at the helm, and he eventually became involved in residential construction.

“I wanted to purchase a piece of land close to Metropolitan Toronto which could be developed into a modern residential community,” said Mr. Cavotti. “The problem was to find land, which was suitable. My associates and I examined many locations before we heard that the Silverthorn farm was for sale. As soon as I saw it I knew that I wanted it. Here was a property, which was ideally situated close to the main arteries
leading into the heart of Toronto.

What really impressed me about the farm was the abundance of trees and brooks or rivers. When my associates saw the farm they were almost as impressed as I was. We finally decided to buy the farm. My associates, at first, jokingly referred to the land as ‘Mark’s land’ and then, after the purchase was completed, they did me the honour of calling the area “Markland Wood.”

After being in the Silverthorn family for 148 years, the Mill Farm was sold to Mark Cavotti and Associates in July of 1958. The 400 acres from Dundas Street to Burnhamthorpe Road that ran along the edge of the Etobicoke Creek sold
for $3,000,000 (slightly more than $7,000 per acre). The Silverthorn family explained Newman’s feelings about his concerns about retaining the trees on the property, and Mr. Cavotti promised to preserve the trees wherever possible. “I love trees,” he said at the time of the major purchase. “I’ll make sure that we will spare every tree we can and see that every house lot has a few on it.” To preserve the area’s natural beauty, Mr. Cavotti asked potential homeowners to sign a contract that they would preserve any trees on their property.

Marc and his brother Dante were avid golfers and knew Al Balding. It was Balding who suggested that the area of 100 acres bounding the Etobicoke Creek would be a perfect location for a golf course. Marc appointed Al Balding the first Club Professional in 1964. Until his death in 1999 at the age of 82, Marc was an avid supporter of the golf club in numerous ways and was a primary contributor to the development of our Junior Golf Program.

Our Designer, Mr. Eric Hanson
“Markland Wood,” said Eric Hanson, “presented the type of challenge which every planner dreams of. Here was a parcel of land, bounded on three sides by natural boundaries: on the south and west by the Etobicoke River and on the east by the Renforth Creek.”

Eric graduated from the University of Toronto with a B.A.Sc. and moved on to graduate studies in Town and Country Planning. He was an accomplished amateur golfer. Hanson played on Canada’s International Team for several seasons, placed second in the Canadian Amateur Championship in 1955, qualified for the U.S. Amateur six times, played in the Canadian Open many times and once in the Senior British Open at Turnberry, Scotland. His golf travels took him across Canada, the U.S. and Europe with all the courses he visited or played helping influence his design of Markland and other golf courses in Canada.

According to Eric, Marc Cavotti “never took his eye off the golf course,” even while overseeing the development of the residential phase of Markland Wood. Construction of the course began quite early relative to the construction of the houses and this permitted making good use of heavy equipment needed to clear the way for roads. Excess topsoil scraped away to dig basements only needed to be moved a short distance to the creek valley. This topsoil was key to the design of the course as the creek valley bottom was largely shale and clay.

Mr. Cavotti was very supportive of doing things in new ways. For example, Markland was the first golf course in Canada to use bent grass from tee to green. The traditional way of seeding golf courses at the time involved planting a “buffet” of grasses such as Kentucky Blue grass and fescue. Because of the bent grass on the tees, it was possible to cut them almost as close as the greens. As a result, in the first years of the club, each tee had a practice putting hole. Flood prevention was a big challenge, and to deal with this Eric raised the level of the tees and greens approximately six feet above the floodplain. This was to prevent silt/sediment from the creek being deposited on the greens in the event of serious flooding.

Eric Hanson died on September 1st, 2007.

After years of negotiating between the Borough of Etobicoke, the town of Mississauga and the Ontario Department of Highways, bridge construction to connect Etobicoke and Mississauga began in 1971.

Markland Wood Country Club was in its seventh year. The bridge construction greatly altered the original golf course and existing designs. One original plan was to extend the landfill on the north side of the bridge from the tunnel to the creek bank, which would have resulted in only one access route to the Back 9. Thanks to members in charge of negotiations, that plan was dropped, resulting in a second access route to the Back 9—from behind the 9th green along the edge of the creek.

Major changes to the course were involved. The 1st tee was moved slightly forward and lowered. The 9th green was relocated north of the bridge—significantly shortening the 9th hole and necessitating a tee rebuild as far back as possible.

During the summer of 1985 at the Glen Abbey Golf Course, Jack Nicklaus competed in the Canadian Open with his son Jack Jr. “on the bag”. The Junior Nicklaus was just beginning to pursue a career as a playing professional, and his father suggested he continue to work on his game while they were together in Canada. Because Jack Sr. knew then Head Professional, Ken Duggan and knew him as someone who would respect their need for privacy, he called Ken and asked if he and his son could come to Markland to practice. Naturally, Ken agreed.

So after Jack Sr.’s first round on Thursday at Glen Abbey was complete, Jack Jr. showed up to practice and then play 9 holes with Ken Duggan Jr. Shortly thereafter, Jack Sr. arrived at the Pro Shop. Imagine the look on the face of the Assistant Professional (now our Head Professional) Frank Marando when he looked up from behind the counter to see a legend in front of him who simply said, “Hi, I’m Jack Nicklaus,” and put out his hand. After a pause that seemed like forever (according to Frank), Frank shook his hand and blurted “No kidding!”. Knowing how Frank idolized Mr. Nicklaus, Ken had made a conscious decision to not tell Frank about the imminent arrival of the famous guest.

Jack and Ken then drove a cart out onto the golf course and found the two young “ball softeners” playing the 7th hole. After 9, Jack and Jack Jr. continued to the Back 9 to play a few more holes. On Saturday after Jack Sr. carded a 66 during his third round at the Open, both Sr. and Jr. Nicklaus returned to Markland and continued more on course practice. In various conversations held during his visits to Markland, Jack Sr. commented that the greens at Markland Wood were as good as he had seen all year on tour, and he expressed his gratitude for the hospitality and the all-important privacy that was afforded them during their visits.

Mr. Al Balding (Head Professional, 1964 - 1969)
Allan George Balding (B. April 29, 1924 – D. July 30, 2006) was a Canadian professional golfer, who won four events on the PGA Tour. Born in Toronto, he served for three years as a member of the Canadian Army during World War II and saw duty in France and Germany. After the war in the late 1940s, Balding worked at a Toronto tire manufacturing company.

He had golfed only occasionally as a youth, but began playing more after the War ended. His game improved rapidly. Balding became a professional golfer in 1950,
working as a club professional in Toronto. He was appointed Head Professional
at Markland Wood in 1964.

Balding began play on the Canadian Tour winning his first two tournaments in 1952. In 1955, he became the first Canadian to win a PGA Tour event in the United States, when he won the Mayfair Open. In 1957, he won three events on the Tour and finished sixth on the money list—the highest of any Canadian at that point. Al would go on to win an impressive number of tournaments in many different venues during his long career. He won ten events on the Canadian Tour from 1952 through 1973.

He was elected to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1968, the Etobicoke Sports Hall of Fame in 1996, and the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame in 1984. He was one of the 40 original seniors on the U.S. Senior PGA Tour in 1980. 

Mr. Ken Duggan (Head Professional, 1969 - 1993)
Ken Duggan began his career in professional golf in 1954 at Scarboro Golf Club as an Assistant Pro. The following season he moved to the London Hunt Club to begin a five-year stint. In 1961 he was appointed Head Golf Professional at Cedar Brae Golf Club, and in 1969 he was appointed Head Professional at Markland Wood.

Ken has always been active in the Canadian golf community. As a member of the CPGA for 59 years, he was a Director for 10 years and served as President in 1968. He revised and rewrote the complete CPGA by-laws in 1967. In 1977 he was honoured by the CPGA for his “Contribution to the Advancement of the Game in Ontario,” and Ken is now a Life Member of the Association. He was also involved with
the RCGA and served as a Director of the RCGA Canadian Golf Foundation for five years. In 1983, he was recognized as Golf Professional of the Year.

During this time frame, Ken teamed up with his friend Ken Girard to form “K & K Swingers Golf Show,” which is an amazing demonstration of both precision and trick golf shots. They performed at numerous tournaments and events across the province, and became household names among the golf community in Ontario.

Over the years, Ken has coached many male and female college and PGA Tour players. In 1996, he was selected by the RCGA to form their Player Development Program. In 1996 and 1997, he was Head Coach and Director of the  RCGA Development Camps in Florida and travelled to Japan twice with four of Canada’s finest players.

His retirement in 1993 from Markland Wood did not signal the end of his involvement with the Club as he continues to coach several members who have won many MWGC
club championships and other important tournaments in Ontario. He also has been an integral part of the Long Range Planning Committee of the Club.

In addition to his teaching skills Ken was also an active player. He has won 65 professional tournaments, carded a 63 four times in official events, and played in the Canadian Open 12 times. He proudly lays claim to eight holes-in-one—four of them were in one year. In 2012 at the age of 78, Ken shot a score of 69—9 less than his age. His 18 hole ringer score at Markland is 39, and in one round he finished 2-2-2. 

At his retirement party in 1993, the Club presented Ken and his wife Jean with lifetime honourary memberships in recognition of his 25 years of service. At the event he was
extremely proud to have his long-time assistant Frank Marando named as Markland’s next Head Professional. “Great choice,” Ken commented.

Mr. Duggan passed away in April 2014 at the age of 78.

Mr. Frank Marando (Head Professional, 1994 - 2019)
Frank Marando began his golf career as a teenager in 1977 at Mississaugua Golf and Country Club—first as a caddy and then in the back shop. Beginning in 1981, he spent two seasons in the pro shop at Lakeview Golf Club where his introduction to the business side of golf really began. As his game sharpened, so did his desire to become a Class A Golf Professional.

In the fall of 1982, Frank was driving around the Greater Toronto Area dropping off his résumé at various clubs when he happened along Bloor Street and noticed “the hidden gem” as he crossed into Mississauga. He made a u-turn on Bloor and,
luckily, found Ken Duggan on the premises. In 1983 Frank started his career at Markland Wood. To this day Frank says, “I did more than turn the car in a different direction that day, I turned my career too.”

The road to becoming a Class A Professional is a five-year challenge of work experience, annual written tests and playing tests. By his fifth and final year, Frank had earned his qualifications with some of the highest marks in the country. In addition
to his many professional victories, he won the Ontario Assistants Championship of 1988. Looking at the trophy and seeing names such as George Knudsen and Moe Norman was a definite highlight. That year he finished third in Ontario’s Order of Merit.

In 1994 he was named Head Professional at Markland Wood. Frank’s first round of golf at Markland in 1983 resulted in an 80+ score. On September 5, 2001 he carded the course record: 62. So far, over the years Frank has had five holes-in-one at
Markland: two on the 16th, two on the 2nd and one on the 18th. The elusive ace on the 5th is still on his “bucket list”. 

The challenges of being a Golf Professional are immense. They constantly change and evolve with both the times and the membership. Gone are the days of a Starter sitting at a picnic table by the 1st tee recording the names of those who show up to play. He didn’t even have a phone to answer!  Frank is most proud of his dedication to the Club. His willingness to continually go “above and beyond”, make decisions
in the best interest of the entire membership, and work to improve the membership experience is what makes him a true asset to Markland Wood.

In 2008, a sold out gala dinner event celebrated Frank’s 25 years of service. The many speeches by members, family and guests all reflected gratitude for his professionalism and for his dedication to the game of golf and to the members of Markland Wood Golf Club.

Mr. Robert Brown (Head Professional, 2019 - present)
Robert joined the PGA of Canada the summer prior to attending Humber College in the Golf Management Program where he graduated with top honours. Robert joined Markland Wood as an Assistant Professional following the program and spent the next 14 seasons under the guidance of Frank Marando.

In 2020, Robert became the fourth Head Professional of the club. His time at Markland has taught him the importance of integrity, passion, and communication. Robert plans to maintain the highest standards of customer service while also moving forward with technology to provide an exceptional golf experience.
 

Mr. Owen Russell, Master Superintendent (2007 - Present)
Owen Russell was born in Toronto and from the age of 12 worked on various golf courses in and around the city. He attended York University and graduated with a B.A. in 1996. Owen subsequently enrolled in the Turf Grass Management Program at Penn State University. Upon completion of the program, he returned to Toronto and took a permanent position in the Green’s Department at Weston Golf and Country Club (where he had worked part- time for over a decade during his youth).

In 2002, Owen joined Woodington Lakes Golf Club as their Superintendent, and during his time there oversaw the construction of a 18-hole golf course. In 2007, Owen came on board as Superintendent at Markland, and we have never looked back. His passion for our golf course and his constant search for “things to improve” has been the driving force behind the transformation of Markland into a world class golf course.

The secret to Owen’s success, as he so firmly states, is his great staff. His hires are
mainly retired individuals who share his love for the outdoors, which most definitely contributes to the very low staff turnover in the Green’s Department. Over the past seven years, Owen and his permanent staff of 25 have faced many challenges, including severe weather, achievement of Audubon certification, implementation of various Long Range Planning projects, and constant interaction with environmental
authorities.

In 2013, Owen acquired his “Master Superintendent,” which is a designation certified by the Canadian Golf Superintendent’s Association and defined as follows: “Obtaining the Master Superintendent designation is the highest recognition in the golf superintendent’s profession in Canada. Master Superintendents are identified with distinguished colleagues who have demonstrated the experience and determination to be at the top of their field. Master Superintendents are highly visible. They are helping to raise industry standards and increasing the respect for and prestige of the golf superintendent’s profession.” 

Past Head Superintendents
1962–1964...Bruce Wooley
1965–1968...Dave Wylie
1969–1981...Bob Heron
1981–1984...Randy Price
1985–1988...Greg O’Heron
1989–1991...Vince Dermot
1992–2002...Rob Ackerman
2002–2006...Chris Nelson

Proudly Audubon Certified

The Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf is an award winning education and certification program that helps golf courses protect our environment and preserve the natural heritage of the game of golf.

By helping people enhance the valuable natural areas and wildlife habitats that golf courses provide, improve efficiency, and minimize potentially harmful impacts of golf course operations, the program serves as vital resource for golf courses. Audubon International has developed Standard Environmental Management Practices that are generally applicable to all golf courses.

The Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses (ACSP) has been assisting golf courses in their efforts to blend environmentally responsible maintenance practices into day-to-day golf course operations. These practices form the basis for the ACSP’s certification guidelines and include:

  • Environmental Planning
  • Wildlife and Habitat Management
  • Chemical Use Reduction and Safety
  • Water Conservation
  • Water Quality Management
  • Outreach and Education

Markland Wood Golf Club is a proud member of Audubon International and in 2020 is enjoying it's 10th year of membership.