By Andrew Macdonald
While he was a gifted sailor, Terry Burns’ other career was as a leading Nova Scotia golf developer.
He built a practice hole at the Bluenose Golf & Country Club in Lunenburg, then expanded the fabled Chester Golf & Country Club from nine holes to its seaside 18-hole course.
The Bridgewater born and Chester raised Burns later moved to Cape Breton to run the Dundee Golf & Country Club and Resort near Port Hawkesbury.
That was in the early 1980s when Dundee was a nine-hole course over Sporting Mountain, and the resort was owned by federal government economic development entity DEVCO.
In the mid-1980s, Burns oversaw redevelopment of the course into an 18-hole link, one of the jewels of the Cape Breton golf scene.
He later retired after he redeveloped LePortage in the Cabot Trail community of Cheticamp, expanding the course from nine holes to an 18.
To get a sense of Burns’ significant contributions to the important Nova Scotia golfing scene, I spoke to former Osprey Ridge Golf & Country Club operator Vince A. C. MacDonald, now a Bedford resident, who grew up with Burns in Bridgewater, where the Osprey course is located.
“I knew Terry from a very young age. I got involved with golf all my life. Terry was a terrific athlete in all sports, golfing and sailing. There wasn’t anything he couldn’t do,” Macdonald tells me.
“He made quite an impact on Nova Scotia golf, which a lot of people do not know about, except the people that saw what he did and who saw his expertise with our own eyes,” he tells The Macdonald Notebook.
“He was one of those people who could do anything he put his mind to, very knowledgeable and very well respected by those in the golfing industry,” he adds.
“He did things a lot of people couldn’t do at a time when there wasn’t a lot of money to allow him to achieve those things. He was able to get it done, he was quite a guy,” adds MacDonald.
In Dundee, he oversaw the expansion to 18-holes from nine holes. My road building dad had the contract to carve out the additional nine holes in the mid-1980s, meeting Burns and developing a lifetime friendship over golfing and sailing with Burnzie as his friends called him.
“(Cheticamp) is a challenging course and it is well laid out, not the easiest bit of ground to work with, but Terry made it work. That was another measure of the type of person he was,” he says. “There were never any obstacles in his way—just challenges—and he was able to overcome them.”
In Lunenburg, Burns built a practice facility on top of the course’s Bluenose Golf & Country Club’s hill at a time when such a facility did not exist, recalls MacDonald.
“He did that efficiently and in a low budget fashion. That was something for a club of that size,” says MacDonald.
Burns then expanded Chester’s golf course to 18 holes. He worked at Chester’s course when it was owned by the American Pew family, as a 12-year old. The Pews later donated the course to the village of Chester.
Now retired, MacDonald has roots in Cape Breton, where his father was raised.
“Terry left us a bit too soon. Of all the things you can say about him, he was unwaveringly cheerful, a terrific athlete in all sports. He was quite a guy, who had quite a life.”
MacDonald was previously associated with Golf Nova Scotia.
“Terry actually brought me into that organization. Terry was very active with that organization, and that was part of his promotional talents which were used by Golf Nova Scotia in a variety of markets to bring attention to golf courses in Nova Scotia,” he says.
“There are many golf courses in Nova Scotia, and many fine golf courses, but they didn’t always get the notice that they should have. Terry worked very hard in that regard to bring the attention to those golf courses, which they badly needed at a time when there wasn’t a lot of money around,” he says.
“Terry worked tirelessly to advance their cause and he should be thanked for that by anyone who is in the golf industry today.”
Bruce Rainnie Alert: Rainnie, who heads up The Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame, and who is Macdonald Notebook subscriber, should consider putting sailor and golfer Terry Burns into the Sports Hall of Fame.
Just a thought, Bruce.