Forgotten Greens of Scotland
Forgotten Greens of Scotland

Tugnet, Spey Bay.

Spey Bay Golf Course.


A proposal had been put forward to construct a new, 18 hole, golf course between Tugnet and Portgordon (Now called Spey Bay.) It was suggested that the railway authorities might be approached to making a railway halt near Auchenreath for golfers.


20th October 1905 Scotsman


Proposed Spey Bay Course



Last night a meeting of the Spey Bay Golf Committee was held at Fochabers Mr John smith presiding.  The plan of the ground and accompanying lease for twenty-five years at a nominal rent by the Duke of Richmond and Gordon ( In Picture ) were considered and approved, and steps were taken for the formation of a club.  The extent of ground included in the lease comprises 140 acres, abutting on Spey Bay on the right hand side of the river.

27th May 1907 The Scotsman


Opening Of Spey Bay Course


The newly constructed course of the Spey Bay Club, planned by Ben Sayers, was opened for play.  After an expenditure of over £1000 on the conversion of 160 acres of natural ground abutting on the sea beach at the east side of the mouth of the river. Spey, every one of the eighteen greens has been made and laid with very fine sea turf.  They vary in size from sixty to eighty feet square.  All the tees have been laid with turf, and the other equipment of the course is in keeping with its status.  The course and greens met with cordial approval by players and reflected credit on the skill of the greenkeeper, Mr Robert Marr of North Berwick.  The names of the holes and the lengths are as follows:-  Witch, 400yards: Target, 339; Port, 315; Spires;193; Torbreck; 369; Scaur, 279; Bin, 400; Valley, 243;Burn 511; Wardie; 300; Lighthouse, 287; Bridge, 374; Norrie, 288; Tower, 371; Table, 253; Lennox, 312; Tugnet, 304; Home, 364. Total length of the course, 5902 yards.   A large crowd assembled at the first tee in the afternoon, and watched a match between teams drawn by the captain, Mr Alexander Muir, and the secretary, Mr J. Anderson.  There were seventeen couples and the result was a win for the captain’s team by 9 matches to 6 for the secretary’s team.

Opening Of Spey Bay

  Arnaud Massy

Aberdeen Journal September 11th, 1907


The Spey Bay Golf Course.

Opened By The Duke Of Richmond And Gordon


The Massy – Herd Match


The new Spey Bay golf course, which is beautifully situated along the shore of the Moray Firth between Tugnet and Portgordon, was formally opened the Duke of Richmond and Gordon yesterday. The weather was excellent, the brilliant rays of the sun being tempered by a cool breeze off the sea. The visit of Massy, the open champion, and Herd, of Huddersfield, the ex-champion, created much interest, it being estimated that the opening ceremony was witnessed by over 2000 persons—including many ladies —who came from the towns and villages along the seaboard of the Moray Firth. The ceremony took place close to the first, tee. Among those in the company who accompanied the Duke of Richmond and Gordon were Lord and Lady Walter Gordon- Lennox, Lady Helen Gordon-Lennox. Provost Archibald. Buckie; Messrs John Reid, teacher, Portgordon; Alexander Muir, Buckie; Captain N. F. Nichol, Enzie;' John Smith, banker, Garmouth; Captain Ritchie, Garmouth; Donald Falconer. Garmouth; Thomas Rae. Tugnet; J. Adams, Bogmuir; David Reid, Portgordon ; Captain Malcolm, Buckie; W. F. Johnston, Buckie: and Charles Webster, Fochabers.


The Opening Proceedings


Mr John Reid. chairman of the directors the golf course, in opening the proceedings, thanked all for having turned out in such numbers assist the promoters with the object in view. They (the promoters) hoped that in the interests and enjoyment of the day their troubles would be repaid. He was not to say at present a word in favour of this golf course as a course, because most of them were amply qualified to form their own opinion on the subject. He might say, however, that only those who knew this place year ago were able to realise the change that had been accomplished on it. The directors did not claim that their work was done that day. They were far from taking that position, because the improvement of the greens and the fairways were matters that inquired time and attention. They claimed, however, if not to have made the crooked places straight. which was not an advantage in golf at least, have made the rough places plain (Applause.) With regard to the making of the course, and speaking directly on behalf of the promoters of the scheme, it gave him very great pleasure to acknowledge the burden of obligation under which they lay to the nobleman with whose presence they were honoured that day. (Cheers.) He trusted they would realise, what was implied in that remark, but for the kindness and the material help and assistance which they received at the hands of the Duke of Richmond and Gordon— (applause ) —he believed he was within the mark in saying that there would have been no golf course at Spey Bay that day. (Cheers.) Adding to the previous marks of his kindness, his Grace consented to come and take part in the proceedings of that day. Standing at the the door he might say, of his ancestral home, his Grace did not need any introduction from him, he believed they all knew the admirable manner in which he had met and fulfilled the traditions of his house since he succeeded to his inheritance. (Cheers.) It was not necessary to tell them what they knew already but he felt he met their wishes if he stood no longer between them and the rest of the ceremony. Therefore, had the utmost Pleasure in calling the Duke of Richmond and Gordon to make the formal announcement of the opening of the Spey Bay golf course. (Loud cheers.)





Speech By The Duke Of Richmond And Gordon.


The Duke Richmond and Gordon, who was loudly cheered, said was glad to be there that, and help give the new golf course good send-off. (Applause.) confessed that when walked over the course last, autumn, he never for moment contemplated that would be in good playable condition as they found it that day, nor did he ever in his wildest dreams consider the possibility of so many people being gathered together on such barren land. It showed that the game of golf had taken firm and lasting hold on the affections of the people. He was aware that their neighbours across the Tweed had become formidable competitors with them in so far as they in Scotland looked upon golf as their national game. But when he saw the number of people who surrounded him, they feared no competition in numbers or in appreciation of the game from their friends south of the Tweed. (Applause.) They must not forget that they could not stand still. They must keep pegging on, as they had to hold the supremacy the game of golf north of Tweed. (Applause.) None them had come there that day to listen to speeches, and he best consulted their wishes if he simply declared the course opened, and gave his hearty wishes for its speedy and ultimate success. (Applause.) He now declared the course open. (Cheers.) . John Smith, banker, Garmouth moved a hearty vote of thanks to the Duke of Richmond and Gordon for the genial and happy way in which he had performed the opening ceremony. ( Applause )


Provost Archilbald’s Remarks


 Provost Archibald, Buckie, said that his remarks were applicable to Lord Walter Gordon- Lennox. He had been asked to thank Lord Walter Gordon-Lennox very warmly for having come there that day to perform what, under the circumstances, he (Provost Archibald) might call a perilous act. (Laughter.) Recognising the position that Lord Walter Gordon-Lennox was in—he knew he had nerves—(laughter)—he was not going make long speech, He, however, would like to say one or two words of comfort.' (Laughter.) If Lord Walter Gordon- Lennox would strike the first ball straight and true and drive it.—in the golfing phrase —far and Sure, they would regard that as a very happy omen. (Laughter, and applause.) But there were other possibilities. (Laughter.) They must look all sides of the matter. Lord Walter might even drive a lost ball. (Laughter.)' Well, supposing he did that there was a mystery about a lost ball—(laughter)—and most of them knew there was always a fascination about a mystery. (Renewed laughter.) More than that, Lord Walter Gordon-Lennox might foozle the drive (Laughter.) Perish the thought' (Hear, hear.) But should that happen they could draw comfort from the schoolboy's philosophy, which said that a bad beginning made a good ending. ( Laughter and applause.) But there was a still further possibility, ( Laughter.) Lord Walter might make a miss. (Laughter.) There were worse things in the world than a golf miss. (Laughter.) That was perhaps dangerous ground ,but again philosophy came to the rescue and gave them comfort, they were told that a miss was as good as a mile." (Laughter.) Therefore, if Lord Walter Gordon-Lennox made a miss, it should be reckoned as the best drive on the course. (Laughter, and applause.) On behalf of the promoters, he heartily thanked Lord Walter for his presence, and asked him to accept a driver, with which to perform the historic act. He hoped the driver would serve as a memento of what might prove a very pleasant ceremony. (Applause.)


Lord Walter – Gordon Lennox


Lord Walter Gordon-Lennox thanked Provost Archibald for his kind remarks, and especially for the sympathy which he had offered to him in advance for all the terrible possibilities which loomed in the very ear future before him. (Laughter heers.) Ho could only say that he was very much pleased to take part in that ceremony,and would keep that driver as a memento of that occasion, and he hoped when the Spey Bay golf course came to be looked upon as the St Andrews of the north, he would be able to hand it down as the weapon that was presented to him on the opening occasion. (Cheers.) Lord Walter Gordon-Lennox then, amid loud cheers, drove an excellent long, straight ball from the first tee.  Mr Reid, Portgordon thanked Lord Walter Gordon-Lennox on behalf of the promoters and the audience for the graceful and distinguished manner in which he had driven off the first ball. (Cheers.) Shortly afterwards Massy and Herd started their game, which was followed by large and enthusiastic company.

The Luncheon.

 Interesting Speeches.


On the completion of the first round of the game, a public luncheon was held in a large marquee erected close to the Richmond-Gordon Hotel. Mr Alexander Muir, teacher, Buckie, and a large  attendance of ladies and gentlemen. Among those at the chairman's table were the Duke of Richmond Gordon, Lord Walter Gordon-Lennox, and Sheriff Reid, Banff. After the repast, a number of toasts were proposed. The Chairman gave "The King." And hoped that the Duke of Richmond and Gordon, who had done so much for the Spey Bay golf course, would do what he could to get His Majesty to come to the course during his visit at Gordon Castle. If that were done, it would be a red letter day in the annals the golf club. (Applause.) The toast was cordially pledged. THE DUKE OF RICHMOND AND GORDON." Mr Joseph Addison, Portknockie, proposed the Duke of Richmond and Gordon." On September 16. 1904. Mr Macdonald wrote to his Grace in connection with the possibility a golf course being formed Spey Bay, five days later Mr Macdonald received the gracious reply, saying that (the Duke) had always thought that the land along the shore from Tugnet to Portgordon ought to make a good golf course, and he would not put any  unreasonable obstacle in the way to establishing a course there. (Applause.) A course could not get formed without a great deal of expense being incurred. In that connection he must say that the Duke of Richmond and Gordon's generosity was like the native Spey— flowing very deep and strong. Had His Grace not taken 150 shares in the company, and that action had been the means of taking the promoters out of the preliminary difficulty. The next difficulty that had to be faced was the procuring of good turf. The Duke of Richmond and Gordon, in utter ignorance of the valuable asset of his property, permitted the promoters to take from an island, boat-loads of excellent turf which had been put on the greens. But that did not end the Duke's generosity. He did not care to mention the amount of rent which the Duke exacted from the club. It was only 2s 6d per annum—(just the amount he, (Mr Addison) had paid for day's golf at Lossiemouth. (Laughter.) it was certainly exceedingly generous of his Grace to have given the course on such terms—an action that was entirely in keeping with the tradition of the noble family. (Applause.) But the Duke of Richmond and Gordon had given them something else—he had given a lease of the grounds for 27 years at 2s 6d per annum. (Laughter and applause. He asked them to drink to long life and prosperity of his Grace. (Loud applause,) the toast was enthusiastically pledged, the company singing " For he's a jolly good fellow."  The Duke of Richmond and Gordon, acknowledging. confessed that it was with a feeling of relief that he had heard Mr Addison come to the end his vocabulary. (Laughter.) Old though he was, he was still capable of blushing, he had feared Mr Addison was to become so laudatory in his statements with regard to him that his (the Duke's) blushes might overcome him. (Laughter.) All the same, he was very grateful for the kind way Mr Addison had spoken of him. He hoped that in the future he would deserve all the encomiums that had been heaped on him with regard his past. He had no desire to detain the company, as they were all anxious to see a further exhibition of golf, such as they had not often the privilege of seeing in the northern counties. It was perfectly true that in years gone by he had often wondered that it had never struck some enterprising persons that there was excellent material for a golf course Spey Bay. The course was now an accomplished fact. Perhaps at the commencement he had helped spur on the course. The credit, however, was not due to what he had done, but to the characteristic enterprise of the promoters. Being a shareholder in the company which had promoted the course, it was natural that he was anxious for its success. The golf course would do enormous good to the vicinity. He looked forward to the not distant date when attractive-looking villas might be built in the immediate vicinity of the course, the occupiers of which would have the inestimable privilege of paying a feu-duty to him. (Laughter and applause.) so they would see that it was not altogether from disinterested point of view that he had given a little help to the promoters. He had not taken a prominent part in the proceedings associated with the opening ceremony for two reasons. The first reason was because he had a brother present who was a far more accomplished player than he was. and the second because he (the duke) had given up golf many years ago, although he had played it to a great extent at one time. He now found little stiffness, muscle, and the absence of that freedom and swing which were necessary to make one play what they -would like other people see. thought that if he had taken upon himself to drive off the first ball, people would have said, "Oh. why is the old man to do that? He's too good—(laughter)—he has no swing, look how he stands." (Laughter.) He felt he would not run the chance of having to face that situation, because in his brother he had an assistant who would do all that was necessary. (Applause.) Golf created and left behind a considerable amount of anecdotes. He did not say it would ever enter into competition with the anecdotal life of the fisherman, because to excel in that particular life one required a high order of Invention and imagination. (Laughter.) They could not but, marvel on hearing of the strokes that players had made—and had not made— (laughter)—and they could not but admire the with which these marvellous complacency with which these marvellous occurnces were put before their wondering ears as if they were common daily experiences. He had read in the newspapers about a player whose ball had been driven into the sea. That gentleman was not to be daunted' —no good golfer was daunted because his ball got into a hazard —and so he put off his clothes, went into the sea, and came back with the ball in his mouth. (Laughter.)

With reference to what the chairman had said, he might say that he bad no idea the King was to pay him a visit. His Majesty's engagements were usually so numerous that, in the event of his coming to Gordon Castle, they might not hold out any hope of the King  paying a visit to the Spey Bay course. However, if it was within the possibility of the arrangements, he was sure His Majesty, Who took such an interest in the welfare, pursuits, and amusements of his subjects, might pay a flying visit to the course. (Applause.) The course had got a splendid send-off that day, and he hoped that in the future it would be well patronised by golfers, both local and from a distance. They had got on the course what promised to be an excellent hotel, where everything would be done for the comfort and convenience of visitors. He trusted the course would more than realise the sanguine hopes of the promoters, and that during the autumn people would drawn to it from all parts of the country. The enterprise of the promoters deserved the utmost success. (Applause.)


The Spey Bay Golf Club.


Sheriff Reid, Banff, gave "The Spey Bay Golf Club." The community of golfers had to be congratulated on having provided for their use such an excellent course. They had a most excellent exhibition of golf that day by Messrs Massy and Herd. It was only short time ago that a proposal had been made to get golf a course in the locality. Had it not been for the extraordinary kindness and generosity of the Duke of Richmond and Gordon there would be no golf course at Spey Bay. (Applause.) His Grace not only gave the necessary grounds, but gave every assistance and encouragement in connection with the formation of the club. (Applause.) Golfers in the locality ought to congratulate themselves on having such an excellent course. They were greatly indebted to the energy and enterprise of the local committee for having in so short a time provided a course which, ought to become popular as it became better known. (Applause.) It was the desire of the local committee that golfers from the surrounding districts should take the opportunity of playing over the course. Everyone would receive a warm welcome, and he was sure that once they had played over the course they would soon come back again. (Applause.) Golf had many attractions. It was well known that if a person handled a club for the space of five minutes he, so to speak, became a golfer for the rest of his life. (Applause.) Having paid a high tribute the golfing qualities of both Massy and Herd, Sheriff Reid hoped that the golf course would not only be a source of profit to the promoters, but that it would prove a source of attraction and pleasure to those who came to the district in search of well-earned rest.  (Applause.) He coupled the toast with the name of Mr Sutherland M.P. (Applause.) Mr Sutherland, replying, associated himself with the other speakers in predicting that the course would become one of the foremost in the North East of Scotland. They had had a most auspicious opening. The Spey Bay course was beautifully situated. Few courses in Scotland would excel it. They owed it largely to the generosity of the Duke of Richmond and Gordon. They also owed much to the energy of Mr Macdonald, the secretary, and those who were associated with him. Chief Constable Mair proposed " Messrs Massy and Herd,'' and referred to the excellence of their play. Mr Herd in replying, said both Massy and he were pleased be on the Spey Bay course. They had enjoyed the game so far, and they were highly pleased with the course. (Applause.) Both he, and Massy wished it every success. Mr Thomas Rae, gave "The Strangers," and Colonel Johnston. Lesmurdie, replied. This part of the proceedings then concluded.


The Match.


 A very large crowd—possibly the largest that has gathered in the locality in recent years— witnessed the start of the match between Massy and Alexander Herd. At the opening hole it seemed if the players were to inconvenienced by the too pressing curiosity of the crowd. Fortunately the police, under the instructions of the Chief Constable, B. Mair, augmented by members of the club, were equal to the occasion, and the greens were kept clear. Later on the heat was so intense that the spectators greatly diminished in number, and there was no trouble with the smaller number of people who went the whole length the round. The first game was by holes. The champion was the first to drive, and opened with a slightly sliced long shot. Herd's ball was straighter, but not far. Herd played a short approach, but almost holed in 4, and Massy just missed his putt, and the hole was a half in 5. At the second Massy pulled his ball to the whin belt, and his iron striking a stone, he took 3 to get out and 4 to reach the green, and Herd won the hole in 4 to 5, and was one up. Both drove well at the third, but Herd was short with his approach and lost the hole, the match being now square. At the fourth 'both carried the bunker and lay near the green. Massy's approach struck the edge of the green, and stopped, leaving him a long putt. He was too strong, and took 4 to get down. Herd, after playing a perfect approach, missed a  2-foot putt, and a half in 4 resulted. On the fifth green both missed short putts for a half in 4, and a half in 5 resulted. The sixth found both men on the green in 2, Massy’s approach lying almost dead. He lipped with his putt, and Herd, although short with his third, halved in 4. Massy had a nice brassey shot the seventh, and got the green in 3. Herd was short from a bad lie, and lay the like, a half  in 5 resulted, the putting being somewhat weak. The eighth was a fine half in 3, Massy holing a six-feet putt. At the ninth Massy had a perfect long approach to the green, and won the hole in 5: indeed, he almost had it in 4. Herd's approach was short, and he took one more to hole. The game therefore turned one up in favour of Masy.The tenth was halved in 4, and the eleventh was won Massy in 4 to 5. At the twelfth Massy holed from the bank above the green, and was now three up. The thirteenth was halved in 4. At the fourteenth tee Massy drove the longer ball. Both got to the mound on the left of the green with their seconds. Herd, with a beautiful putt, won the hole in 4 to 5, and reduced the lead against him to two holes. Herd played the fifteenth loosely. He was short with his second, and also with his approach. He ran past with his putt, and took 5. Massy was down in a perfect 4. and was again three up. and dormy. The players had sandy lies the sixteenth, Massy had a splendid second, while Herd was rather to the left. Herd, with a fine five-foot putt, won the hole in 4 to 5.  Massy ran past with his third, and then missed a three foot putt. Massy won the seventeenth 4 to 5, and was again three holes up, with one to play. Herd's short approach was weak, and he left himself too much to do with the putter. Both reached the last green in two, but Massy took five to hole out against Herd's four. The match thus ended in favour of Massy by two holes. The details of the round were—

Massy Out—5 5 4 4 5 4 5 3 5—40  In—4 4 3 4 5 4 5 4 5, 38 – 78

Herd . Out—5 4 5 4 5 4 5 3 6—41  In —4 5 4 4 4 5 4 5 4 — 39—80

The feature of the round was the wonderfully accurate pitching of Massy, who hardly miscalculated a single approach shot during the round. It was in this that the champion showed superiority. In driving the men were pretty much alike, both getting long bails. Both made mistakes on the green. The heat had dried up the turf, which in consequence was very bumpy, and nicety of play was a matter of very fine judgment.


The Afternoon Match.


 In the afternoon the match was stroke play. Herd took the honour, and had a shortish drive. Massy was better, and his pitch brought him to the rough bank to the right of the green. His approach was rather short, and he missed the putt. A half in 5 resulted. At the second Massy drove hard to the right, and his ball found the heather. Scores of willing spectators helped in the search. Massy was in the act of walking to the tee to drive afresh when the bail was found, badly whinned. He played back to get out and hooked the ball over the heads of the spectators who had come too near. His clever recovery was hailed with applause. Herd's second was short of the green, which each gained in 3. Herd had the hardest of lines in not winning the hole in 4, his ball lipping and running round. The hole was halved 5. The third was also a half in 5, the putting of both being weak. The short fourth hole was a half in 4, while better putting might have resulted in a half in 3. At the fifth hole Massy had a fine pitch to the green. He lost his advantage by taking 3 on the green and a half in 5 resulted. The sixth was a half with a perfect 4. Herd's ball, after ringing the hole, dropped in. Massy came away with a fine approach at the seventh, and won the hole in 4 to 5, Herd making a plucky bid for a half. Through an approach which struck the edge of the green and stopped, Herd lost the eighth, which Massy had in a perfect 3. The Frenchman increased his lead at the ninth, where Herd, as in the morning, took 6.


Massy 5 5 5 4 5 4 4 3 5—40  Herd 5 5 5 4 5 4 5 4 6 -43


The tenth was an uneventful half in 4. Massy increased his lead by two strokes the eleventh, which he had in a fine 3, holing a long putt following a long and accurate approach. Herd was again unlucky on the green. Failing to hole a two-foot putt at the thirteenth, Herd lost another stroke. Massy had the fourteenth in a superb 3, holing from the edge of the green, quite 20 feet. Herd might have had the hole in 4, but again it was his fate to fail with his putt, his ball stopping on the edge of the hole, which thus cost him 5. The fifteenth was a half in 4. Herd had his usual slice of misfortune, for his putt for 3 stopped within two inches of the hole. He played the sixteenth badly, and it cost him 6, while Massy had beautiful three, following an approach which he laid dead. The Scotsman snatched half at the seventeenth, and won the last hole —though he did not play out—in 4 to 5. Massy had come home in 34—2 under an average of 4—and his score, as the captain of the club afterwards said, was a record likely to stand for many a day. He absolutely made no blunder on the homeward journey, save that the last green cost him 5 while he had a chance of holing in 4.

Details: —

Massy 4 3 4 4 3 4 3 4 5-  34

Herd    4 5 5 5 5 4 6 4 4—42

Massy therefore had gone round in 74 and Herd in 85. The latter all through had the hardest luck on the greens, losing hole after hole with putts which just lipped but refused to go down. At the opening holes, of which six were halved, Herd failed to get his putts. This apparently affected him, and for a good many holes after that failed give the ball a chance, and over and over again was short. When he did get up the ball lipped the hole and the ball lay dead. On the other hand, Massy did give his ball a chance, and got down, notwithstanding the undulating nature of the greens. This inspired confidence, and many times he got the hole in par. The driving on the part of both players was exceedingly good. Indeed, there was little to choose between them, except that Massy kept his balls much lower than Herd did. The neat and exact approaching of both was one of the features of the game. The greens are built up, rather difficult to approach, and the edges are somewhat rough, so that a ball may be caught up before getting on. This happened more than once But, taking the greens all in all, they are certainly in a wonderfully good state. They are made of the best turf, and are carefully attended to. Misfortune dogged Herd's steps, and he did not get full value for the shots he played outside the green. Looking at the two scores, it may appear that-one man was greatly the better of the other, but in such a game, where so much luck is sometimes obtained, something must be allowed in favour of the man who has the misfortune to receive bad lies, especially on links which are in a crude state. There was no deterioration in Herd's play, he drove with dash, approached with his usual confidence, but his putting was at fault for one day. At the close of the game Mr Muir, Buckie, the captain of the club, made a few remarks at the home green. He said he thought every golfer would admit that over the last nine holes the play had been marvellous. (Applause.)  The driving throughout the had been of the very highest order, and the game, to those who thought they could play golf, would have two results—they would recognise that either they must practice more or consign their clubs to oblivion. (Laughter and applause.) The approach work of both men had been exceptionally good. As for putting, one of the great quartette of golfers—he should say quintette—had said that putting was an inspiration, and everybody experienced that at one time or another. But anyone would admit that the display of golf had surpassed ail expectations. (Applause.) Muir then moved votes of thanks to Lord Walter Gordon-Lennox, who had taken so much interest in the club, and also to Chief Constable Muir and his men for their work in regulating the crowd. To-day a handicap competition will be played —two rounds—for eight prizes. About 50 amateurs have entered.

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