Forgotten Greens of Scotland
Forgotten Greens of Scotland


Early Golf in Girvan.       “A correspondent, signing himself “ reform.” Protests against the danger to which people enjoying a walk on the road or green are exposed by golf being played there, and suggests that ground in a better situation for a game so dangerous to passers-by should be acquired elsewhere.” (AA 28.3.1872)

Ayr Advertiser May 9th, 1872


This ancient Scottish game, although now becoming almost British in its character, has only recently been introduced here by a few enterprising gentlemen. On Saturday last, Charlie Hunter, ( In Picture ) the professional from Prestwick, came down to inspect and lay off the green. He was accompanied by several players from the same place, and after having “ Taken Stock” of the green and laid out the holes, several good foursomes were played. We may add that Charlie Hunter expressed himself highly satisfied with the links, that in regard to the turf, nothing could be better, and that hazards were by no means to be despised.  (AA 9.5.1872)

Golf On The Green


The members of this club met on the links on Friday last. There was a good turnout and the weather was everything that could be desired. A Second and Third prize was presented by the club. The Captain’s prize, which consisted of a beautiful flower vase, was won by Mr John Melville. The Second consisting of clubs was won by Mr David Inglis ; and the Third, a number of balls, won by Mr David Wilson. All the winners started at scratch, although some of the players had the benefit of a handicap of 24 strokes out of 28 holes, which is four rounds of the green.” (AA 31.10.1872)

Ayrshire Advertiser April 2nd, 1874


The first handicap match for the season was played on the Girvan links on Saturday, 28th inst., when five valuable prizes presented by Capt. Andrews and other members of the club, were competed for. Fully an average number of local and non-resident players took part in the competition, and notwithstanding that a strong gale from S.W., accompanied with drenching showers, continued throughout the day, the greatest interest was evinced in the game. The following were the successful competitors, Viz:- 1st Prize, won by D.L. Wilson, 2nd by John Melville, 3rd by Robert Marshall, 4th by Robert Innes, 5th by James Nicol.” (AA 2.4.1874)

Ayrshire Advertiser January 14th, 1875


“The green of Girvan has always been a source of great enjoyment to the community in affording a pleasant outlet to all classes of the people. The amount of building which has recently taken place gave rise to the apprehension that ultimately the whole of the green would be covered with houses. We are, therefore, gratified to learn that, in answer to a memorial from the magistrates and town council of Girvan, Lord Stair has kindly intimated his intention of reserving 15 acres of the green below the South Church, and presenting it to the people of Girvan as a public park. This act of Lord Stairs has given the greatest gratification to the whole community, who warmly appreciate the value of the gift, and heartily thank his Lordship for his kindness.” (AA 14.1.1875) Note : 15 acres is not a lot to play golf on.

The South Church was located at Stair Park.

Ayrshire Advertiser January 4th, 1877


“We are glad to say that the advent amongst us of 1877 has been marked with a great deal less of boisterous hilarity than that we have seen on similar occasions. The time honoured custom of first footing appears to be gradually disappearing, and a more natural mode of observing the annual holiday is gaining favour. The streets were excessively quiet throughout the day. The weather was most unpropitious for holiday making, a dirty sleet falling during most of the day. Notwithstanding the weather, the Girvan Golf Club turned out and played a handicap match for 4 beautiful prizes presented by the Captain, David Andrews Esq. The match was three rounds of the green, and occupied about three hours play. Mr Murray, Banker, and Mr Melville, Fishery Officer, tied for the first prize. The third and fourth falling to Mr Wm. Forsyth, and Mr David Andrews.” (AA 4.1.1877)

Note : I don’t know how long the club lasted after this, as the next section describes the club being re-formed after a period of almost 4 years, so the club has folded anytime between Jan, 1887 and Dec 1890. 

Glasgow Herald December 29th, 1890


Resucitation of golf club


 At a meeting of gentlemen interested in the game of golf, held last week, it was resolved to resuscitate the old Girvan Golf Club. Arrangements have been made for the use of Watermouth Park, and it is expected that play will commence on New Year’s Day.” (Herald, 29.12.1890)


   Glasgow Herald January 19th, 1891

Opening Of New Course


Willie Fernie with two of his

clubmaking staff


“The Girvan Golf Club was formally opened for play on Saturday afternoon by Mr William Murray, Solicitor, in the absence of Mr Andrews, the captain of the club. The Rev S C Fry, in a few remarks, referred to the attraction of Girvan, and the many advantages of the game. The first ball was placed on the tee and played off by Mr Murray, after which three pairs started on the round of the course, Mr Brown, Banker, finishing the nine holes in 46 strokes. The course was laid out by Mr W Fernie, Troon, and is arranged in nine holes, with a sufficiency of hazards to test the skill of the players. The ground, we understand, will be open to summer visitors.” (GH 19.1.1891)

 Glasgow Herald November 2nd, 1891


“The monthly handicap competition for the medal was played on Saturday. The day was beautifully fine, and there was a good turn-out of members. The following are the scores: 1st, Andrew Scott, 92: 2nd, David McConnell, 93: 3rd, James Galloway, 95. Through the kindness of Mr Hannah, the tacksman of Girvan Mains, the club have obtained a lease of the golfing green on very favourable terms.” (GH 2.11.1891) 

Cumnock Express, September 2nd, 1892


The Girvan golfers have a look at Turnberry

Ten Years before its time


 “A meeting was held on Saturday afternoon at Turnberry Castle for the formation of a new golfing club at Turnberry Links. The subject has been in consideration for some time by gentlemen in connection with the Girvan golf club, who had visited the place and gone over the ground. It was arranged that a joint meeting of those favourable to the scheme in Gurvan, Maybole, and Kirkoswald should be held on the ground on Saturday to formally constitute the club. The meeting accordingly took place, and was held in the open-air on Saturday afternoon, on the vaulted ruins of Turnberry Castle – the castle of the gaelic lords of Galloway, and afterwards the principal seat of the Earls of Carrick, and famous as the birthplace of King Robert the Bruce. Seated on and within these ruined walls a council was held – Mr Marshall, Schoolmaster, presiding.

      Mr William Murray, Banker, Girvan, the principal promoter of the scheme, was unavoidably absent, but a letter was read from him detailing the steps taken to secure the ground. Lord Ailsa, the proprietor, gives a hearty countenance to the scheme and arrangement have been made with the tenant, Mr Bone. A letter was also read from Mr David Andrews, Banker, Girvan, approving the formation of the club, and promising practical support.

On the motion of the Rev S C Fry, Girvan, seconded by Mr Andrew Brown, Commercial Bank, it was agreed to form the club, and the following gentlemen were appointed an interim committee to complete the arrangements :- Mr Marshall, Chairman, Mr Andrew Brown, Secretary, Mr Andrew Dunlop, Royal Bank, Treasurer, Rev. S.C. Fry, Girvan, Mr William Murray, Mr David Andrews, Mr Smith, The Castle, Maybole, the Rev. Mr Muir, Kirkoswald ; Mr McCracken, Blackheath, London ; Mr W.C. Scott, Glasgow ; and Mr Rutherford, Edinburgh.

      Lord Ailsa was most heartily thanked for his kindness, and it was agreed to solicit his patronage as hon. President of the club.

      Mr Eaglesham, C.E., Ayr, has agreed to prepare a plan of the ground free of charge. The committee proceeded over the proposed course. Turnberry is about equal distance from Girvan, Maybole, and Kirkosawald, and thus favourably situated for the three parishes.The ground extends for about two and a half miles along the shore of the Firth Of Clyde, and embraces sufficient hazards to make the game interesting and bring out the science and skill of the player. The course will be laid out in 18 holes, with fine drives between, and splendid putting ground in the hollows. The situation is one of the finest that could anywhere be met with.” (CE 2.9.1892)


The new club was formed, but the course was not laid out at this time, and they would have to wait a further 10 years to see golf at Turnberry.

North British Daily Mail, January 19th, 1901.


In August 1892, a number of gentlemen in Girvan formed themselves into a committee for the purpose of forming a golf course at Turnberry. Their first meeting was held on the ruins of Turnberry Castle, the seat of the Earls Of Carrick, and, at an earlier period, of the gaelic lords of Galloway. After some correspondence with Mr Smith, Maybole, factor for the Marquis of Ailsa, the proprietor of the ground, the services of W. Fernie, Troon, were obtained, and he, with the committee went over the proposed course, and after prospecting, described it as one of the finest and most beautifully situated in the kingdom. The links for about four miles stretch along the Carrick shore, abreast of Turnberry lighthouse, and close to the village of Maidens.

Some difficulties arising at the time in obtaining ground, the committee secured the lease of a field on the farm of Girvan Mains, on the Dalquharran estate close to the town, which was laid out as a nine hole course, and though small, was nicely situated and was of immense benefit in drawing summer visitors to Girvan. The field now forming the course is being feued and villas built on it, so that the golf course is no longer available. Attention has, in consequence been again directed to Turnberry links, and this time with every prospect of success. The Glasgow & South Western Railway Company some years ago obtained power to construct a light railway along the coast from Ayr to Girvan, embracing the fishing villages of Dunure and Maidens, with the intention of laying out the Turnberry links as a golf course, and erecting a hotel on the ground. The cost of constructing the line at the present time being much in excess of the original estimate, the scheme has been delayed.

The Marquis of Ailsa, to whom the ground belongs, and whose residence, Culzean Castle, stands on the sea cliff two miles North of Turnberry, where “ Fairies light on Cassilis downan’s dance “, has, in consequence of this delay on the part of the railway company to carry out the design, decided to proceed with the golf course on his own account for the benefit of the inhabitants of the district, including Maybole, and Girvan.

Scotsman April 29th, 1901


Ten years on, and the club now move to Turnberry.


“Very satisfactory arrangements have been made with the Marquis of Ailsa, through his factor, Mr Smith, Maybole, for the new golf course at Turnberry, and the club have decided to remove to the new course on 15th May. The Marquis gives them all the benefits of a well-formed golf course at Turnberry on condition that he receives 80 per cent of the subscriptions, which arrangement will terminate when course is taken over by the Glasgow and South Western Railway Company, when the light railway and hotel for which they have obtained powers are completed. The terms are considered favourable to the Girvan Club, which numbers about sixty members. The course is about five miles from Girvan, six from Maybole, and three from Kirkoswald, The roads from either towns are excellent for a cycle run or bus drive, and players can start from either end of the course. The course has eighteen holes , and has been skilfully laid out by W Fernie, Troon, with every variety of bunker and hazard, and well-placed putting greens. The Marquis of Ailsa, in forming the golf course, is conferring a great boon not only on the people of the district, but on others who may be induced to visit the beautiful Ayrshire coast and the land of Bruce and Burns.” (S 29.4.1901)

Note : This was to be the birth of golf at Turnberry, although the Girvan golfers had already looked at this site some ten years earlier. Why it was not laid out then ( 1892 ) i do not know, however, while all this was going on the old course at Girvan was being brought back to life under the heading of a new club called, The Girvan Burgh Golf Club. Although the Girvan Burgh Golf Club is still thriving and not a defunct club / Course, I have included their opening details in order to demonstate the coming's and going's at the time in the area. ( See Girvan Burgh Golf Club ). I have also included the opening of the Turnberry course for the same reasons. ( See Turnberry )

Ayrshire Post May 17th 1901



Turnberry golf course is already in good order, and although no formal opening has taken place, and the club have practically concluded for the use of it from 15th May.

Carrick Advertiser ( Monthly ) May. 1901



Girvan golf club ( including the lady members ) presently numbers about 70 players. By the terms of their arrangement with Lord Ailsa’s factor ( Mr Smith ) the club begins to use the Turnberry course this month. Girvan will incur no expense in the upkeep of the course, although there will always be two men employed to keep it in good playing order. Turnberry gets 80 per cent, of Girvan’s club’s drawings for the use of the course, which will leave a satisfactory margin to Girvan club for its prizes and other incidental expenses.

Ayr Advertiser June 27th 1901

The Turnberry Golf Course


The Girvan golf club have now concluded arrangements with Lord Ailsa, whereby they have secured playing rights over the new course at Turnberry. The Girvan club can also extend the same privileges to visitors to Girvan. The terms can be ascertained from the treasurer, Mr James Shankland, British Linen Company Bank, Girvan. The course is now open for play. The Girvan club are to have a formal opening early in July.

Ayrshire Post July 12th 1901


Opening Of Turnberry Golf Course


In delightful weather, the new golf course at Turnberry was formally opened on Saturday afternoon by a handicap match for a gold medal presented by Lord Ailsa. The medal was specially designed for the opening occasion, and becomes the property of the winner. The weather was beautifully fine, and there was a large number of ladies and gentlemen present from Girvan and neighbourhood to witness the opening ceremony.

Rev. S.C. Fry in name of the Girvan golf club, thanked Lord Ailsa for his great kindness in opening out the course, which is on ground of great historical interest, of unsurpassed beauty, and where many a gathering of the fighting men of Carrick took place. The Firth of Clyde was like a summer lake, so calm that the strokes of the engines of passing steamers were distinctly heard, and the soft breath of wind coming over a tranquil sea was scarcely felt. It was recognised by all, that Fernie, who had laid out the course, had faithfully developed its charms.

The honour of playing off the first ball was given to Mrs Dunlop, Royal Bank, Girvan, who deftly handled the club, and was presented with a ball as a memento of an interesting event. The match then proceeded. The drive off started North from the lighthouse built on the ruins of Bruce’s Castle, and after going the round of 18 holes – which covered a distance of about 3 ¾ miles – ended at the same place, directly abreast of the lighthouse. The following are some of the best scores :- David McConell, winner of the medal, 97 ; Rev. Mr Muir, Kirkoswald, 110 ( 12 ) 98 ; J. Eaglesome, 105 ( 4 ) 101 ; F. McCallum, 108 ( 6 ) 102 ; Dr Thomson, 123 ( 22 ) 101 ; J. McQuaker, 117 ( 14 ) 103 ; J. Hourston, 119 ( 16 ) 103 ; J. Buchanan, 121 ( 18 ) 103. W. Fernie, Professional, Troon, who laid out the course, accompanied the leading players, and came in with a card of 90. The play over all for a new course was exceedingly good. The other members of the club who took part in the play are as follows :- Robert McConelll, Rev. S.C. Fry, Rev. George Dods, Barr ; A.T. Watson, A. Lauder, J. Brewster, J. Crosbie Junr, Jas. Aitken, Thomas Young, Andrew Dunlop, James Smith, Col. Shaw, H. Morgan Hamilton, Bogside, A. Stirling, Secretary, Kilwinning Golf Club ; A. Brown, Girvan ; Mr Hunter, Girvan ; Dr McDougall, Girvan ; Mr Hunter, Girvan ; and James Hannah, Enoch. Mrs Thomson, United Free Church Manse ; Mrs James Smith, Lousia Drive ; and Mrs Dunlop, Royal Bank, prepared a nice tea on the golf ground for the players and friends present, for which they received a hearty vote of thanks. Among those present we noticed Mrs Fry and Miss Fry, Mrs C.A. Thomson, Mrs Muir, Kirkoswald ; Mrs Shaw, Lousia Drive ; Mrs Buchanan, The Avenue ; Mrs Lauder, Rev. C.A. Thomson, Provost McCreath, Girvan ;Miss Dunlop, Morriston ; Mr William Dunlop, Morriston ; Captain Smith, Maybole ; Major Chapel, Maybole ; Miss Smith, The Castle, Maybole ; Mr Crawford, Drumbeg ; Miss Crawford, Dowhill ; Misses Marshall, Turnberry, and others.

Scotsman November 4th 1901


The lease of the old Girvan golf course  expires on the 11th, and will not be renewed, as the ground is being feued for building purposes. The club-house has already been removed to the new golf links at Turnberry, and play will cease this week. The course, though only of nine holes, so conveniently situated on the North side of the river along the sea coast, and but three minutes walk from the town, was a great boon to Girvan and an attraction for many visitors in the summer. The new course at Turnberry links, though a splendid one, is too distant for winter play, and only a few enthusiastic players would venture out to it. A long day in summer is required for Turnberry. Until the light railway along the coast projected by the Glasgow and South-Western Railway Company is made, the course will not be too popular

The Girvan clubhouse, although i think this might be back at Girvan after it was returned from Turnberry. The postcard is dated 1907.

Scotsman November 11th 1901

Girvan Club


Last Competition On The Girvan Course


The lease of the Girvan golf course expiring today, the Girvan club took leave of the course with a parting game on Saturday. This closes the Girvan golf course, the ground being required for house building.

Ayr Advertiser May 1st 1902

New Golf Club For Maybole


Formation Of Turnberry Golf Club


The writer of the “ Golfing Topics” in the Scotsman on Tuesday, says :- It is not in the matter of seaside courses alone that golf is making headway in the Burns country. Inland towns are annually adding to the number of courses. Maybole has hitherto been chiefly celebrated for its shoe factories – which turn out about a million pairs of boots and shoes every year, representing a value of £250,000 – and its manufacture of agricultural implements ; but it now proposes to join the great army of golfers, and admirable facilities for the practice of the game are to be found for the club just formed in the capital of Carrick on the course recently laid out at Turnberry Lighthouse, on a part of the Ayrshire coast so closely associated with the ancient Earls of Carrick. Mr Thomas Smith, The Castle, who, as factor to Lord Ailsa, is ever ready to further any movement for the benefit of the town and neighbourhood of Maybole, presided at the meeting called in the end of last week to consider the proposal for the formation of a golf club. Mr Smith explained the conditions under which the club would be allowed the use of the course, which is on Lord Ailsa’s lands. These conditions were considered eminently satisfactory and it was formally resolved that the Turnberry Golf Club be formed. The Marquis of Ailsa was proposed as Hon. President, and a provisional committee was appointed to frame a constitution and raw up rules. The membership is to be open, and the annual subscription has been fixed at one guinea. After the first hundred members, an entrance fee will be charged in addition to the yearly subscription. The secretary for the time being is Mr R.M. Nisbet, Maybole.


Ayr Advertiser May 14th 1903


Last Competition of the Girvan Golf Club


Prior to the amalgamation with the Turnberry golf club, the Girvan club held its closing competition over Turnberry links on Thursday 7th inst., for prizes given by the club. There was large turnout of players, and the weather conditions were perfect. The following is the result :- Jno. Howiston ( 15 ) 87 ; Robert McConell, scratch, 88 ; Jas Crosbie Jnr, ( 15 ) 88 ; James Brewster ( 24 ) 89 ; James Hannah ( 18 ) 92 ; F. McCallum Junr ( scratch ) 93 ; A.S. Willison ( 18 ) 93 ; Jno Telfer ( 11 ) 93.

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