Forgotten Golfing Greens Of Scotland
 Forgotten Golfing Greens Of Scotland

Stewarton.

Stewarton Golf Club.  Founded 1911. On Saturday afternoon a new nine hole golf course was formally opened at Stewarton in presence of a large gathering. Mr Thomas Mackie, Cockhill, Captain of the club, presided, and presented a silver mounted driver to Provost Sim, with which that gentleman drove off the first ball and declared the course open.

      Thereafter a match was played between Messrs Robert Forrest and James Buchanan and Messrs F. Kennedy and J.H. Irons, Pollock club, the former winning by one hole. A four-ball exhibition game was afterwards played by the same gentlemen, the scores being as follows:- J.H. Irons, first round, 38, second round 39  -77 ; R Forrest 37 and 40 – 77 ; J Buchanan 39 and 38 – 77 ; F Kennedy 43 and 36 – 79. The course, which is situated at Gameshill, quite close to the town, is of a thoroughly sporting nature, the ground being somewhat hilly and burns and hedges forming natural hazards that call for the exercise of considerable judgment. The outstanding feature of the course is the necessity of accurate play from the tees, in most of the holes a badly placed drive being severely punished. It was laid off under the direction of Hugh McMillan, Gailes. The club already has a membership of over 200.” (AA 6.6.1912)

            It was not until 1912 that a nine-hole course was laid out - if that is the right word - at Gameshill, Robertland, which is now a housing area. The course was officially opened on June 1st of that year when Provost Sim drove the first ball. The terms for members were, according to the original membership card : Gentlemen 12/6, Ladies 7/6 and Visitors 6d per round of 18 holes. Since that happy day, the fortunes of Stewarton Golf Club have fluctuated over the years, and sad to report, more downwards than upwards. From the very beginning, the Club seems to have been plagued with ground leasing troubles, and due to squabbles with various landowners, certain holes and eventually the whole course had to be shifted. At one stage the very clubhouse had to be moved at short notice which caused much expense to the Club and a great deal of bitterness among the members.

The Clubhouse

For a short time, the town could even boast of an 18-hole course, but by the 'thirties' the Club course again only had nine holes and was situated between the Cutstraw and Fenwick roads. This is the course that many Stewartonians will recall with nostalgia. It was " a nice wee course" to play on and local "gowfers" of that period will recall with affection such holes as "Blaw Wearie", "the Punch Bowl", "Village", "Dug's Leg", "Cutstraw", "Tipperary", and "Draffen", and "The Kilns". This was, undoubtedly the most prosperous period in the Club's history when the membership was at its largest.

      Those were the days when the men played in plus-fours and "scone bunnets" and the ladies wore longish skirts (the words "midi" or "maxi" hadn't been invented then) fair isle jumpers, and flower pot hats or berets. Although golf was considered by some to be a rich man's game, the golfers then didn't require all the elaborate gear that is practically a must for today's 24 handicap novice. Steel shafts were few and far between and a pencil bag and a few wooden-shafted clubs were all that were necessary, not forgetting a ball of course. Instead of numbers, the clubs bore traditional names like mashie, niblie, spoon, baffle, brassie, jigger and "magic" cleek. Just imagine Arnie Palmer  saying to his caddie “Gimme that magic cleek, boy.”

     

 There were many prominent golfers in the town at that time and special mention must be made of the Hannahs, all of whom were keen club members and office bearers over a long period.

      WW2 saw the end of golf in the town for over five years, and by the time all the local golfers got back into civvies, their beloved course was a thing of the past. Efforts were made to secure land for a new course and for a short time, permission was granted to form a rough nine hole course - and "rough" is the right word - at Lochridge, but this did not last long and since 1948, no golf has been played in Stewarton, a sad state of affairs indeed. (BGFG)

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