Forgotten Golfing Greens Of Scotland
 Forgotten Golfing Greens Of Scotland

Cumnock 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

Cumnock Golf Club. Instituted 1894.   On 5th October 1894 the Cumnock Express reported that a golf club had been formed and that a course had be en obtained using fields leased from the proprietor of the Dumfries Hotel, Mr Munn. The holes ranged from 177 to 246 yds and the principal hazard was a burn. Visitors staying at the Dumfries Arms were allowed to play free of charge. However there must have been some misunderstanding in the negotiations because on the 19th October The Cumnock Express corrected its previous report.

First Course, 1894        “Mr Munn not being able to give the club immediate possession of the fields for the links, the committee have been able to obtain suitable ground at a reasonable rent from Mr Wardrop of Bankend for the winter months. The extent of the ground is about 35 acres, and the course will be one of nine holes, with a distance between each of from 150 to 250 yards. Saturday first, we believe, is to be the opening day, and it is to be hoped that there will be a good muster of ladies and gentlemen on the occasion to inaugurate a game at once so pleasant and so healthful. The office bearers of the club we may state are:- President, Mr Samuel Galbraith; Vice President, Dr Kerr; Chaplain, Mr J.P. Ballantine; Secretary and Treasurer, Mr D.A. Adamson. The committee consists of Dr Stewart, Messrs J.W. King, John Andrew, D.C. Smith, J.W. Crawford, with the foresaid office-bearers ex-officio.” (CE 19.10.1894)

On Saturday afternoon, in fine weather, the new golf course was formally opened. Mrs Galbraith of Holmside struck off the first ball amidst the cheers of a big crowd. Afterwards a large number of players engaged in the game. The course is beautifully situated on Mr Wardrop’s farm of Bankend, and although the grass at present is a little rough it will with a little labour be made a fine course, the bunkers and hazards being numerous. The length of the holes range from 150 up to 300 yards.” (CE 26.10.1894)

 

Second Course, 1895 “On Saturday last the new golf course, laid out by W Fernie, of Troon, which the club had been able to obtain here on the farm of Netherthird, was formally opened in the finest May weather possible. Mr S. Galbraith, President of the club, presided, and in declaring the new course open, expressed the hope that it would be a permanent one, and intimated that he would give a medal to be competed for by the members of the club. Mrs Galbraith then drove off the first ball with skill and vigour to the ringing applause of all present. The course lies about half a mile South of the town, and less than a quarter of a mile from the new railway station, the entrance to it being the tidily kept farm steading of Netherthird, which is quite near to the public road. The course, which is large, extends right away Southwards and Eastward from the farm, and has a gentle rise until about half of it has been gone over, when it has for the rest of it mostly an easy declivity, the hedges, and latterly a scar brae, with a little rivulet beneath, make the requisite and excellent hazards. For the full length of the course Southwards it is sheltered on the West, and partly on the South, by a wood, but lies fully open away up to the hill country of the East ; while down below to the North West, nestles the town of Cumnock, and West away the finely wooded valley of the Lugar, not here at least flowing “ mong moors and mosses,” but through wood crowned banks , and meandering past holms of liveliest green ; while directly to the North, and near at hand, the tall sombre fir trees of Barshare wood frown over “ the Burnie wimpling by” on its way to join the Glaisnock stream, and that the Lugar, both near at hand, and all bearing their waters onward and Away to be lost in the all-devouring sea, which, like the great blue dragon of the ancients, eat up the land. Golfers generally are doubtless so absorbed in the game that they seldom think of pausing to contemplate and admire the beauties of nature, but those who can, and do so, will find few fairer, lovelier spots than this golf course, especially in these summer nights, when the great flaming sun is wheeling down the Western sky, and sinking from sight far way beyond the splintered peaks of the lofty Goatfell, in the romantic Island Of Arran” (CE 10.5.1895).

Third Course, 1896       “On Saturday afternoon Dr Kerr, President of the club, performed the opening ceremony of a new golf course at Cumnock. The new course, which is situated on the farm of Mr Kerr, Blackstone, between Stepends Pit and the Glasgow and South Western Railway, is within a few minutes walk from Cumnock, and conveniently situated for players from Lugar and Auchinleck. Dr Kerr intimated that he intended to present a cup to be competed for by the gentlemen of the club and also one to be competed for by the ladies. The committee have now made arrangements for these games. They have decided that the competition be for the best three out of five games during the present year, the gentlemen’s games to be played on 25th July, 15th August, 12th September, 10th October, and 14th November, and the ladies’ (On the inside course - which suggests a separate ladies’ course) on 1st August, 19th September, 17th October, 7th and 28th November. The cups have to be won two years by the same parties although not in succession, before they become the property of the winners. The players are to be handicapped, and the handicaps can be had on application to the hon. Secretary, Mr Adamson, solicitor.” (GH/CE 10.7.1896)

A meeting of the committee of this club was held last Friday night. Mr W.M. Fraser of the Bank Of Scotland, generously intimated to the meeting that he intended to give prizes in the form of ball for a mixed foursome competition. A condition of Mr Fraser’s was that the partners for the lady member of the club (who are in the minority) should be the gentlemen with the lowest handicaps.” (CE 17.6.1898)

Mr Andrew Miller, Photographer here, having very handsomely offered a prize of a large size portrait of the winner of the single hand handicap game of golf, the prize was won by Mr Fraser of the Bank Of Scotland, and the portrait which Mr Miller has taken of the clever winner, and presented to him, is this week being shown in the window of Mr Ballantine, Bookseller, and being in a beautiful frame, and an unmistakable likeness as well as an admirable work of art, it has been attracting much attention, and the skilful artist is being much and equally extolled for the handsome prize and its high excellence as a work of art, as well as for the encouragement he thus gives to “ the royal game of golf.” (CE 1.7.1898)

Fourth Course, 1899. “The golf club here, we learn go back again to their old course on the convenient, cheerful, and airy farm of Netherthird, contiguous to the town, where a new and excellent six-hole course has been laid off on it and on a field belonging to Mr Kilpatrick, Coachbuilder. The course, we learn, is to be opened with some demonstration on Saturday first, Mrs Kerr, Stepends, to drive off the first ball. A large turnout is expected.” (CE 2.6.1899)    

The new golf course on the farm of Netherthird and the Coach work field was opened on the afternoon of Friday last in presence of a numerous, brilliant, and enthusiastic company. Provost Richmond presided, and called upon Mr Fraser who presented Mrs Kerr, wife of Dr Kerr, Stepends, with a golf club, on which was a fitting commemorative inscription, and with which the lady drove off the first in an easy and graceful manner, and then declared the course open amid the ringing cheers of the company. Mr J.W. Crawford, then, in his own well known eloquent way, proposed a vote of thanks to Mrs Kerr for honouring the club by coming forward and opening the links. The golfers present then briskly engaged in the game, and afterwards partook of tea – provided and served up by the ladies on the green and gowanny lea-rig – the whole proceedings being of the happiest and most auspicious kind.” (CE 9.6.1899)

Saturday last was this flourishing club’s opening day for the season. The weather was beautiful and the turnout of the members large. After the game had been engaged in for some time, an excellent tea was provided and cleverly served up by the winsome young ladies present in a beautiful green hollow by the side of a wee, wimpling burnie that went singing on its way to the sea. Several strangers were present, who, like the members themselves, greatly enjoyed the tea and the lovely scene. After tea, mixed foursomes were played, several of the strangers present joining in.” (CE 8.6.1900)

The annual general meeting of the golf club was held in the library rooms on Thursday evening last week. The secretary and treasurer read their reports, the latter showing the financial position of the club to be very satisfactory. The election of office bearers was then proceeded with. Considerable alterations were made in the various annual subscriptions of members, reduced charges being agreed to for junior members under 16 years with a view to getting a larger number of boys and girls to join. Reductions were also made in the daily and weekly charges to visitors, the club thereby hoping to attract a larger number of summer visitors. Special attention has lately been bestowed on the greens and everything points to the course being in better condition than ever during the coming summer. The meeting terminated with a vote of thanks to provost Richmond, who presided.” (CE 5.4,1907) 

On Saturday last the new pavilion erected on the golf course was formally opened, happily in fine weather. Happily for the success of the function the weather was fine at the time, and the attendance of members and friends was gratifyingly large. The occasion was suitably marked by making it a “tea afternoon” The pavilion is a substantial wooden erection measuring 24 feet in length and 12 feet in breadth. It is divided by a folding partition into two apartments. The roof is of corrugated iron, and a verandah stretches along the whole front of the building.” (CE 2,9,1909)

 

Ex-Provost Richmond, J.P., one of the hon. Presidents of the club, in formally declaring the pavilion open to the use of the members, very heartily congratulated the members of the club upon the acquisition of their new pavilion. It was admitted on all hands that such a convenience was needed, and he was perfectly certain that it would not only prove to be a lasting convenience to the members, but that it would be a most attractive asset to the club where strangers and visitors were concerned. The ex-provost had also a kind word to say for the committee of management and the contractor, Mr Hutchison, Joiner, Barrhill Road, and then formally declared the pavilion opened for the use of the members and friends, and trusted that it would fully realise all the hopes entertained for it. Tea was served by the ladies committee and much enjoyed. Mr John Dick, M.A., very happily proposed a vote of thanks to the ladies. The ladies who were in charge of the arrangements were Miss Dunsmore and Miss Begg.

     

      “This is a nine-hole course, situated on the farm of Netherthird, about a mile from the main line station and a few minutes’ walk from Cumnock A & C Station. Several improvements have been carried out on the course, and a neat clubhouse has been added. A feature of the course is the sporting nature of the last three holes, which require very careful play. The hazards consist of hedges, ditches, and burns.” (GSWR 1921)

Fifth Course, 1922.  “The Cumnock golf club which has had its quarters is about to remove to a new course at Drumbrochan farm. An agreement has been entered into with the tenant, Mr Napier, whereby the golf club has secured the playing rights over the grounds of Drumbrochan Farm, and a small strip of Barshare Farm, until the expiry of Mr Napier’s lease in 1928, and it is hoped that a satisfactory arrangement will later be made for a continuance of the agreement after that date. The lands of Drumbrochan which are most centrally and beautifully situated, are admirably suited for the game, and in the opinion of the well-known Barrassie professional, Mr A.W. Butchart whom the club consulted  in connection with the layout of the course, will make one of the best inland courses in the country.” (AA 27.4.1922)

      “Steady progress is being made at the new golf course. The committee have accepted the offer of Mr A.F. Borland for a horse lawn mower from amongst seven local agents who sent in offers, and early delivery of the mower is expected. Meantime gangs of between twenty and thirty members are nightly hard at work raking off moss from the greens, forking them up, brushing, rolling and cutting them, opening up roads through hedges and generally clearing up. Much good work has been done, so that once the fairways are cut with the new mower, playing should not be long delayed.” (CC 5.5.1922)

“In 1922 the club moved to Drumbrochan, the course comprising the grounds of Drumbrochan Farm, and a small strip of Barshare Farm. The course was formally opened by Mr David B.Weir following a short account by Councillor John Carruthers of the history of the club at previous sites, who said he remembered well the time when Cumnock golf club was a very sickly fledgling indeed, having as a course a few fields in the North end of the town, better known as “ The Bluber,” with intermittent changes to quarters at Ayr Road, Cairn Road, and the Coachwork. At that stage in its chequered career the fledgling was a rather ugly member, whom no one seemed particularly interested in. Then the misses Wilson of Netherthird had taken the fledgling to their arms, and the Cumnock course was an established fact. That was surely the proper time and place to record their sense of gratitude to the misses Wilson for the innumerable kindness they had shown to the members during their A Pitch & Putt Competition followed. The partners for this competition were selected by use of “Affinity Flowers”.  (CC 19 5,1922)

 

Unfortunately, the Minute Book of the Club, from inception to 1928, has not been traced. However, the succeeding Minute Book is still extant and, some years ago was transcribed, and also transferred to computer disc. These Minutes are a valuable source of information on many aspects of the game, its officials and players.

      For instance, it is recorded that in 1929, the Greenkeeper, Findlay was to be paid 1/- (one shilling) per hour for the 44 hours he was employed scattering 30 tons of sand on the greens. Lockers fitted in the clubhouse were to cost no more than 10/- (50p). The names of Committees reveal that they were drawn mainly from the middle-classes, - solicitors, teachers, bankers, shopkeepers. One solicitor who served for a short time as Secretary, referred, in his written Minutes, to the long grass at each side of the fairways as “ruff”!

The golf course was forced to close around 1958 due to encroachment of council housing. The Club officially disbanded on 31 January, 1959. However, a group of die-hard members formed the Glaisnock Golf Club, and played their golf as visitors to other courses. Eventually, most of these players joined Ballochmyle Golf Club, Mauchline (est. 1937).

The Dr. Kerr Cups, referred to earlier, were donated by the Cumnock club to Ballochmyle, and are competed for annually. Referred to at Ballochmyle Golf Club as the “Cumnock Cups”, they are outstanding examples of the silversmith’s art. They bear the names of the winners from 1897. No names are inscribed at the time of the Boer War and the Great War. Moreover, no names are inscribed on the “gents” cup after 1935. The reason for this is unclear but it is suspected that from 1936 names were inscribed on a plate on a wooden base, and that the base was later lost, - either by a winner, or by the jeweller concerned!” (GIC)

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