Forgotten Golfing Greens Of Scotland
 Forgotten Golfing Greens Of Scotland

 Auchtermuchty from the clubhouse

 Auchtermuchty

Proposed Golf Club For Auchtermuchty

 

 “A meeting of those in favour of inaugurating a golf club in Auchtermuchty was held in the Peoples Institute on Friday night. The Rev. W. Affleck presided, and there was a large attendance, which included a number of ladies. The chairman, after referring to the many advantages pertaining to a golf club, said he believed a suitable golf course could be obtained on that part of the lands of Rossie adjoining Rossie Den, and that the tenant of the land ( Mr Brown ) was in sympathy with the proposal. A large and influential committee, which included Provost Bonthrone, Rev. W. Affleck, Rev. J. Bell, Dr Shearer, Mr J. White, Mr J. Dempster, Mr D. McHardy, Mr W.A. Donaldson, and Mr James Lowe, was appointed to inquire into the matter and report to a future meeting.”                               (Dundee Courier 29.10.1902) 

Auspicious Opening. “To the zeal and untiring energy of the Rev. William Affleck, Auchtermuchty has had added to it’s attractions as a summer resort a charming nine-hole golf course, which was formally opened for play on Saturday.

Charming Surroundings. The course is laid out on a couple of extensive and finely undulating fields of old pasture, on the farm of Rossie, distant about a mile North of the town. It is situated among charming scenery, and as the visitor enters, either by way of the whin-covered Whitefields Common or from the East through Rossie Den, the prospect is quite enchanting, and one would almost imagine they were in the very heart of the Highlands. From the clubhouse the view is magnificent, commanding, as it does, the entire stretch of the picturesque Howe Of Fife from Wemysshall Hill in the East right along to near Kinross in the West, with Benarty Hill standing sentinel over the far-famed Loch Leven. The Lomond Hills stand out prominently in the landscape, while other hills that can be seen are the Ochils in Perthshire, Largo Law, and away stretching over the broad waters of the Forth, the Lammermoors, which yesterday were covered with snow. The villages of Ladybank, Freuchie, Springfield, Falkland, Kettle, Auchtermuchty, Strathmiglo, and Gateside lie snugly in the Howe, and all can be picked out from various coigns of vantage on the course.

Comparatively Easy Course. The course has been nicely laid out by the committee, and with abundance of room, there is no crossing. Owing to the configuration of the ground, only two of the holes are visible from the tee, namely, the Third and the Fourth, the others being hid by hillocks, which, however, are not sufficient to make even the most obese of the players puff and blow when following their ball. It is a comparatively easy course, though hazards are plentiful to those who go of the straight, for there is a plentiful growth of whin on either side. A couple of dykes have to be crossed, one going to the second hole, and the other going to the sixth. The second hole is the longest one on the course, being about five hundred yards, and the only short hole is no 5, which can be reached from the tee with a good cleek shot. All the others require a couple of good shots to reach the green. Perhaps the prettiest hole on the course is no 6. It is a hole of about 400 yards, and the way lies along a beautiful pastoral valley, whin studded at the sides, with a background of high hills. The green lies below the clubhouse. Altogether it is an excellent course, and, with the greens in good order, will rank as one of the finest inland courses in the county.

The Opening Ceremony. Though the weather was bitterly cold, with occasional snowflakes falling, there was a large attendance at the formal opening which took place at the clubhouse. Among those present were – Rev. Mr Affleck, Captain of the club ; Misses Affleck ; Rev. James Bell and Mrs Bell ;Mr Grant, Wellfield ; Mr and Mrs Walker, Bank Of Scotland ; Mrs Rae Arnot, Lochieheads ; Provost and Mrs Bonthrone ; Mr and Mrs Wm. Lambert, The Hollies ; Miss Lambert, Dundee ; Mrs Lyall, Bellvue ; Dr and Mrs Shearer ; Mr Robert Arnot, Greenfield ; Mr John Stenhouse, Edinburgh ; Mrs and Misses Hogg, The Manse ; Bailie and Mrs Pratt ; Miss Horn ; Mr and Mrs Baker, White House ; Bailie Stark ; Mr Henry Skinner, Mrs and Misses Skinner, Mayfield ; Mr and Mrs Keir ; Misses Bonthrone, Cross ; Mrs Aitken, Greenfield ; Mr Henry White and Miss White, Nethergreens ; Mr Low and Miss Low, Bleachfield House ; Miss Thom, The Cottage ; Mr Chas. G. Simpson ; Mr W.E. Bett, Royal Hotel ; Mr John Robertson, Commercial Hotel ; Miss Clark, Mr T.H. Hawkins, Mr A. Miller, Mr Steumann, Mr J.M. Low, Secretary Of The Club ; &c.

       Rev. Mr Affleck, in opening the proceedings, said that this was a great day for their town and community, for they introduced the game of golf to the people of Auchtermuchty, he supposed, for the first time since the beginning of the world. It was not needful that he should say anything in praise of golf. It was one of the most admirable and healthful and innocent games that existed, and he was sure it was fitted to do everyone good that took part in it. It was the worst players that got more exercise, and he had never played the game without feeling the better of it. (Applause.)

       They owed great thanks to the landlord, Mr Maitland Makgill Chrichton of Lathrisk for his kind consent that the course should be established upon his property, and to Mr Brown, the tenant of Rossie, for his great kindness, for his liberal treatment, and for the most friendly position he had taken up towards them. Mr Brown had permitted them to have the course for a merely nominal rent, and he was sure he had earned not only the gratitude of the club but of the whole community. (Applause.)

       Mr Affleck then presented a handsome medal to the club to be competed for time to time as the committee decreed – (Applause) – and concluded by declaring the course open for play ( Loud Applause)

       Mr Wm. Lambert, in the course of a few remarks, called for a cordial vote of thanks to Mr Affleck for the enthusiasm he had displayed in the establishment of the club and for the handsome medal he had presented to the club (Applause.)

     Proceeding to the first teeing ground the Captain drove off the first ball – a good, straight drive – amid cheers, and thereafter a number of foursomes were played, the fair sex being well represented in the games. The club has a membership of about sixty. A meeting of the members was afterwards held in the clubhouse, and it was agreed to play for the medal presented by Rev. Mr Affleck twice each year – in the months of April and October – but this year the April competition will be held a month later.”                                               (Dundee Courier 20,4.1903)

  "The course was opened in April 1903. It is situated to the north-east of the town, occupying two  of the high  fields of Rossie Farm, and is approached from the commonry on the north side of the wooded height called Craigowerhouse (pronounced ‘Craigoorus’) which overlooks the town. Though not more than three quarters of a mile from the town as the crow flies, what with the climb and the detour of the road, it takes twenty-five minutes to reach the golf course, which is over 400 feet above sea level, or t00 feet  above the town.  The eye is pleased with the panorama spread out before it, and at the same times the lungs are filled with a pure air, which is felt to be exhilarating.

      The course – a nine-hole one - is undulating, and, though there no natural hazards to speak of, requires some care to void the whins which some holes such as the first, second and sixth are beset. The longest hole is the second, 380 yards, which is played over the drystone  dyke and down the long slope of the hill to the hollow at the foot, called the den.  The first hole from the home tee is somewhat tricky, as a good ball landing on the hill in the straight line may easily bound down among the whins to the right, but rightly played, is an easy 5. The second should go for the same. The third is level, but with the green somewhat on a slope, it requires 4. With the fourth one mounts the hill again, and reaching the lower edge of the green in 2, requires a careful 2 more to hole out, since the slope is very treacherous. He short hole is a very easy 4, being only a cleek or iron shot, but, with a knoll in front and a bit of a slope on the green, is sometimes done in 2 and often in 3, 4 is allowed here to bogey. The sixth hole up the valley is well done in 5, as the lies are somewhat messy. From the seventh tee one faces up a hill with somewhat steep slope, and wisely goes off the line and up the hollow to the left,  though with a following wind a good ball will spin over the first height and may run down over to the hollow beyond. The mossy ground near the green makes approach difficult, and one finishes, if he can, in 5. Six is uphill, but coming near the shoulder of the hill to the right,  a player may get to the edge of the green in 2, and finish in 4. From the last teeing ground, if the drive cannot surmount the hill, the golfer lies at the foot of a steep slope. And has to loft, and as the greens hangs worst of all the nine, he is fortunate in getting down in 4. The total length of the course is about one mile and two fifths.

      After two years’ practice the greens are much improved. The club has a membership of close on eighty. Visitors are welcomed to the amenities of the course for a modest tariff. The present captain is Mr John White, and the secretary is Dr Shearer."

 (Edinburgh Evening Dispatch 20.5.1905)

Location of the course overlooking the town

Length of Course,  2469 yards - Bogey  39

             Hole No.          1          2           3          4           5          6           7           8             9

Length in yards         217      255      110      348      340      256      228      320        395

                Bogey            4          4           3          5           5          4           4           5             5

 

The course is on the upland hills, the highest point being 250 feet higher than the highway to Cupar.  It is well diversified in level. The only hazards are whins or furze on both sides of several holes, and long grass on others.  (WWG-1909)

"The Club was formed in December 1902, largely due to the exertions of the Rev W Affleck, the first Captain, Mr Lambert and several others.  The initial membership of 36 has steadily increased until it is now well over a hundred.  From 1907 to 1922, under the secretaryship of the Rev James Bell, the Club made substantial progress.  Revisions were made to the course in 1910 by Willie Auchterlonie, particularly the placing of a number of new bunkers."                       (Golf Illustrated 18.11.1910).

Auchtermuchty Golf Club – The First Twenty Years

 

The following interesting history of Auchtermuchty Golf Club  was read by the Rev. James Bell on his retirement from the secretaryship of the club after 15 years service.

 

         On 24th October 1902, there was held in the hall of the peoples institute a meeting of those favourable to the formation of a golf club. Thirty-six people were present. It had been called by the Rev. W.M. Affleck and Mr W.M. Lambert. At that meeting a provisional committee of fifteen members was appointed to ascertain where possible ground could be found, to communicate with landlord and tenant, and, if arrangements were favourable, to draw up a constitution of the proposed club.

         Some weeks later, on December 11th, a meeting was held in the Lower Town Hall, with Provost Bonthrone in the chair, when the provisional committee reported that they had got the consent of Mr Makgill Crichton of Lathrisk, Landlord, and of Mr Andrew Brown, the Tenant, for the use of the two higher fields of Rossie Farm, during the current lease, on favourable terms. A form of constitution was read, adjusted and adopted. The office bearers were chosen as follows:- Rev. W.M. Affleck, Captain; Wm. Lambert, Vice Captain; Jas. M. Low, Secretary and Treasurer; with seven additional members of committee; Messrs D. Shearer, W.A. Donaldson, John White, Rev. Jas. Bell, Mrs Lyall, Mrs Affleck, and Mrs Lambert.

         The committee at once set about the preparation of the ground for the course, clearing it of whins, while a sub-committee went over the fields and chose the teeing grounds and the situation of the greens. The site of the club-house was fixed in the North West Corner, almost the highest point, and near the entrance from the commonty behind Craigoorus.

         A simple house, after the pattern of that at Ladybank, was erected by Messrs Maxwell at a cost of about £20. In the course of a few months the work was completed, and the course was formally opened on 18th April 1903 by the Captain, the Rev. Wm. Affleck, driving off the first ball in a mixed foursomes competition.

Gift Of Medals

         In opening the clubhouse he announced his gift of a silver medal to be played for twice a year. Three other medals were shortly after announced ; the Bellvue medal for ladies by Mrs Lyall, the Broombrae medal for youths under eighteen by Provost Bonthrone, and the Walker scratch medal for ladies by Mr A. Walker. The membership of the club quickly rose to respectable dimensions, 69 members having joined during the first year.

         At the end of the year Dr Shearer became secretary, and at a special meeting in December it was resolved to have a sale of work to clear off expenses connected with the starting of the club. The preparations were energetically taken up by the ladies, and it was opened by Mr Makgill Crichton in the Victoria Hall on September 4th 1904.

         It realised a net gain of £124, which set the finances of the club on a solid foundation, and provided for some improvements on the course during the next year or two. There is still a balance of this fund remaining invested in War loan.

The Club-House

         In April 1905 a notice of the course, with an illustration, appeared in the Edinburgh Evening Dispatch, which doubtless helped to make the course better known. The club had been greatly indebted to Mr Andrew Brown of Rossie for the favourable terms – a merely nominal sum of £2 a year – on which it had the use of these fields. In 1906 a new agreement was entered upon by which £20 was paid annually for rent. In the same year an improvement was made in the access to the golf course. In its original situation it took twenty-five minutes and no inconsiderable exertion to reach the club-house, the starting point of the course. The new access from the Cupar road was less toilsome and much shorter, requiring only fifteen minutes. We are indebted to the late Provost Bonthrone for this path alongside his fields at the cost only of a “ Good Golf Ball,” annually.

         The house was removed to the new site, and some addition was made to it, for the better accommodation of greenkeepers tools. The clubhouse remained unchanged for many years, but at length it was felt that it was too small, and wanting in convenience, especially for ladies. Accordingly, in 1920, it was resolved if possible, to effect some improvement. The matter was gone into, and funds were got up, with the result that a ladies room was added, with conveniences for both divisions, and the handsome verandah along the front of both, which has added so much to the amenity of the house for the members.

        When in 1906 the new arrangement was made with Mr Brown to pay £20 rental, it was found necessary to raise the members subscriptions by one half, so that gentlemen paid 15/- and ladies 7/6d. When the war came in 1914, it told on the course of time on the membership, so that it was with difficulty that the club was kept going.

In the closing years prices and wages had risen so much that it was at last resolved to raise the subscriptions for 1918-19 to £1 and 10/- respectively. Meantime there had been a change in the ownership and tenancy of Rossie. The new owner and occupier, Mr David Dow of Rossie, was a golfer, and during the last two years of stress, generously remitted £5 of the rental. Since the strain had passed away, however, the rent has been adjusted to £30 a year.

Seven Medals

In course of time the number of medals to be played for by the club has increased. In 1906 Mr W.A. Donaldson presented a fine silver medal to be played for monthly, and in 1911 Dr and Mrs Shearer presented two medals, one as monthly medal for ladies, and the other as a match medal to be played for twice a year by gentlemen. This makes seven medals in all, three for ladies, three for gentlemen, and one for youths under 18. It has been stated that in the first year the membership was 69. It gradually rose to about 90. At the present time it stands at 103. Many changes have taken place among the members of the club during the well nigh 20 years of its existence. Of the original members six ladies still maintain connection and six gentlemen also survive membership. But many who took the liveliest interest in the affairs of the club have either passed away or have removed from the neighbourhood. Of those who have passed away, and on whose graves the club has laid memorial wreaths, we recall the names of Mrs Lyall, who was warmly interested and indefatigable in the sale of work for the club’s funds, Young Harry White, a very promising player, who was cut off early; Wm. Brown, a good sportsman in medal and in match play, and Wm. A. Donaldson, a regular frequenter of the course, a good player, and a pleasant comrade.

Of those who have left the neighbourhood, we may mention the Rev. Wm. Affleck, one of the prime movers and the first Captain of the club. Mr John Grant, one of our scratch players, who during his residence in Wellfield took a deep interest in the prosperity of the club; and Dr Shearer, who was a keen golfer – keen as he was in all sports – and till he left towards the close of the war, a well known figure on the course.

The Popularity Of The Course

         The club has always been on friendly terms with other clubs in the neighbourhood, and has met in friendly conflict, at home and away, teams from Kinross, Milnathort, Glenfarg, Falkland, Leslie, Markinch, Ladybank, and Cupar, maintaining at all times a bold front, and holding well its own. Of 46 recorded matches, 22 have been won, 19 lost, and 5 drawn.

         The Professional record for the course was made by Wm. Binnie of Burntisland, who on 3rd October 1910 went round with a score of 70. The Amateur record is held by one of our members, Mr James M. Low, a fine player, now seldom seen on the course, who on 25th September 1909 went round in 76, Dr Shearer having twice before in the same year gone round in 77.

         After Mr Low’s one year’s tenure of office Dr Shearer was secretary for four years. He was followed in 1907 by the present holder of the office, Rev. James Bell, who has held it for fifteen years, including the years of its worst stress, and who now rejoices in its recovered and increasing prosperity.

         The golf club has been a source of pleasure and also of profit to the people of Auchtermuchty. It has afforded healthful exercise to young, old, and middle aged, and has helped to make the town an attractive place for summer holiday-makers. The fame of the golf course has been gradually increasing, and most strangers who come to visit it are ready to give it high praise as one of the finest inland courses in Fife. Its popularity is evidenced by the increasing amount of visitors fees. It is far from being a wealthy club, but its members are thankful that it is in a sound financial condition, and with a creditable record behind it of paying its way.                 

(St Andrews Citizen October 28th 1922)

      "The 9-hole course has often been termed a "miniature Gleneagles" and not without cause.  The splendid sport it affords and the picturesque character of its ground rank it as one of the finest of inland courses.  The situation is excellent — 15 minutes walk from the town in a north-easterly direction and topping the high ground above Rossie den.  There is little bunkering; the fairways are fine hill turf as dry in winter as in summer and the greens are well kept and putt truly.  At one time whin bushes gave rise to lost balls but these have now been well thinned.  The 4th and 8th holes show that superlative golf does not require artificial hazards.

      To vary play, different tees are in use for the holes in the first and second groups of 9 holes, lending character to the course and giving the effect of an 18 hole round.  Total length of course 5343 yards (2689 out and 2654 home.).

Membership Fees — Gentlemen 25/- per annum; Ladies 15/- per annum; Youths 7/6, no entrance.  Visitors' Fees — 1/- per day; 4/- per week; 7/- per fortnight.  Annual playing membership open to persons resident 3 miles and over, 10/-."                                                                                                                              (Golfing in Fife 1929)

       "The year 1930 finds the prospects of golf as good as ever at the Royal & Ancient Burgh of Auchtermuchty. The natural situation of the course is unsurpassed, and it has often been called a nine hole Gleneagles, with its prospects over the Howe o’ Fife to the Lomond Hills. There are no outstanding changes to report this year, but before the last snowfall the greens and fairways were in really excellent condition and promised well. The usual club activities will soon be all to the fore – Monthly Medals, Weekly Summer Evening competitions, an all summer best scores competition, A mid summer Saturday 36 hole competition for the Bell Cup and Rossie Medal, and the usual club league matches with the clubs in the Central Fife Golf Union.

       A bid is being made for an increased membership, and the entry fees are in abeyance.

The subscriptions are: - 25s gentlemen and 15s ladies. There is a strong ladies section, with plenty competitions and mixed foursomes between the sections. Country members outside a three mile limit are welcome at 10s per anum, and visitors also, at the following tarrifs:- Day 1s , Week 4s, fortnight 7s, and Month 10s. Most visitors return to us the following year and are most enthusiastic."

 (Dundee Evening Telegraph  28.3.1930)

 

Major trophies: Donaldson, Affleck, Broombrae, Bellevue, and Walker Medals. 

Membership peaked at 110. 

 

Last mentioned 1950.

 

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