Forgotten Greens of Scotland
Forgotten Greens of Scotland

 Gartloch Asylum from above

Glasgow's Private Courses.

The following Private courses have been identified:


Gartloch Lunatic Asylum


Gartnavel Hospital


Golfhill House


Poloc Cricket and Golf Club

Gartloch Lunatic Asylum


Gartloch Lunatic Asylum. First recorded 1919. A nine-hole course in the grouds for primarily for the benefit of the staff but, no doubt, available to selected patients.

Golf course shown to the right of the map
Gartloch Staff at Golf

"Bobby, Buchanan, Wilson and Williamson, in 1919. 

Gartnavel Hospital golf course

Gartnavel Hospital Golf Club. Established 1895. Monthly Competitions were played, the winners’ names being inscribed on a Gold Plate, which contains all the winners from 1895 to 1908. The names of the monthly winners radiate from the centrepiece, which shows the club’s name and date of founding.



  Centrepiece, showing date of foundation.


Photographs reproduced by the kind permission of the Greater Glasgow Hospital Board Archives, where the plate is held.


left; names of Monthly Winners



   “The monthly handicap trophy was competed for in December and won by Mr Denholm (Scratch). The trophy is now covered with names and has served its purpose well by maintaining interest in the game for some years back. It belongs to the house and can never be won outright.

   Doubtless it will be carefully preserved and will be an interesting curio a hundred years hence.” (April 1903)

   “A ladies course of five holes is now open in the West field. Provided that a sufficient number of entries are forthcoming, a tournament will be promoted about the middle of April.” (April 1903)

It is difficult to gain an impression of the course as no layouts have been found. Although a round was originally 15 holes, and then 18 holes, in each case several of the holes were played twice and several of the greens also, although from different directions.

   "Golf, National and now world famed, is chiefly and heartily played here in autumn, winter, and spring, when cricket does not in any way interfere.

   Its devotees are numerous and interesting “ foursomes” predominate. There was wont to be monthly contests for the plate (Instituted 1896) and now permanently held in No 4 M.W. A new register prize is needed. It would stimulate, also indicate the progress and prowess of individual players. The athletic spirit of the Age is surely denoted by the fast extending love for sport, and the now almost universal indulgence in games previously circumscribed by locality." (July 1905)

   "Although we have a suitable little golf course here, indeed, during the autumn,winter and spring months, quite a sporting course, providing a better test of golf than many an inland green, it is somewhat poorly patronised, owing partly, perhaps, to a scarcity of players in the house at present and the easy access to other and larger courses in the neighbourhood. Probably something in the nature of a competition, similar to the monthly plate which used to be played for, would stimulate interest and infuse some enthusiasm into those who do play, as it does seem a pity not to take advantage of such golfing opportunities as we have. We have, then, no account to render of matches or tournaments played, but trust in our next issue to be able to announce that something definite has been arranged." (July 1910)


   "Notwithstanding the continuous wet weather, golf enthusiasts have been “ Going the round.” We notice a number of new faces on the green, and we note with pleasure that a good few of the ladies are taking lessons under the able instructions of Mr Murray. The brand new silver cup should encourage them to perservere." (October 1910)

   "With the cessation of cricket, lawn tennis, bowls and similar games about September, more attention has been given to golf. This has been aided by the mild weather and by the alteration in the order of playing the holes, which are now more sporting.

   A much greater interest, however, has been given to the game by the generosity of Mr Francis Henderson, who has presented a handsome silver cup to be played for monthly, on the handicap system, the cup being won outright by the player who wins it three times in which event Mr Henderson has promised that he will present another.

   The cup is called the St Vincent Cup, and was presented by Dr Oswald at the concert on 7th December to attendant Cameron, the winner for the previous month.

It was first played for in October, when an entry of 22 was received. It was won easily by attendant Hey with a score of 53, the runner-up being attendant Kinninmonth whose score was 64. In November a splendid entry of 42 was received, and after some excellent play attendant Cameron won with a score of 53, attendant Mortimer taking 54. A regrettable feature has been the small number of ladies who take part ; in the two months that the competition has been running, only two ladies have returned scores.

   In order to save the putting greens, no competition will be held in Dec. or Jan., but a large entry of lady and gentlemen patients and members of nursing staff is expected for the February handicap. As no similar competition has been held for some time the work of the handicapping committee has been more of the nature of a guess than otherwise, but as the competition proceeds handicaps will be adjusted so as to give each player an equal chance of winning the prize.

   A list of local bye-laws and penalties is in preparation, and will be posted up on the various notice boards in due course. In the meantime the notice of players is directed to the following :-

   That the roads and avenues of the course are to be regarded as bunkers, and the rules       regarding bunkers to be observed, i.e., that if a player’s ball is lying on the road in avenue ( not the grass borders ), no stick, stone, or other object may be moved while addressing the ball, and the club must not be grounded.

The new order of playing the holes is as follows :-


  1. Home to Crossroads
  2. Crossroads to Farm
  3. Farm to Railway
  4. Railway to Gate
  5. Gate to Avenue
  6. Avenue to Home
  7. Home to Gate
  8. Gate to Farm
  9. Farm to Railway
  10. Railway to Crossroads
  11. Crossroads to Avenue
  12. Avenue to Home
  13. Home to Crossroads
  14. Crossroads to Avenue
  15. Avenue to Home

(January 1912)

  "Additional prizes are now being given in our golf competition for the winner of the St Vincent cup, the runner up, and the lady who returns the lowest score.

   The greens have been generously treated with a “ Top Dressing” and will be in splendid condition for the summer. For the benefit of those who find the new tennis court a temptation to “ Hook” their drive at the first hole, we repeat the conversation of two errand boys nurtured apparently on the one game Glasgow urchins know. “Whit’s it fur, Tommy ? is it fur bowls ?” “ naw” (with great scorn), “ Dae ye no ken thi’t that’s a golf pitch !” (April 1912)


Playing the course


   "Few among the private golf courses in Scotland can boast of their natural advantages and beauty when compared to Gartnavel. Once you grant that it is not of great extent, your would be-be critic has nothing to object to, and on playing over it he finds that though it lacks artificial hazards it does not lack sporting qualities. On approaching the first tee from the West house, the Campsie Fells can be seen to the North and a little Westward Ben Lomond shoulders its way into view past Dumgoyne. From the tee itself the well wooded grounds are seen to an advantage that a trpped ball detracts from, later, and looking abroad over the residential suburb of Kelvinside, we see Ruchill as it stands out against the vapours of the town.

But it is not the view we are to speak of here, so will come at once to more pertinent matter.

   The first hole looks a drive and a pitch from our elevation, but the drive must be straight, a sliced stroke causing the ball to drop a few yards off from the inviting arms of some trees, while the natural lie of the ground assists the pulled shot to trickle through the fence on to the avenue where the arching boughs makes our second an ugly one. But a Mashie pitch should see us down in four here if our drive is good and give us courage to tackle the awkward shot. The first shot has to carry the avenue trees  ( which are fifty feet high and sixty yards away ), and yet be well forward to enable us to lay our iron dead. There are those who play for safety and use their iron at this tee but the man who can slice a rather high drive comes off best. Our anxiety is not yet overhere, for the green is so cunningly set in a low toungue of the course amid heavy grass and near a thick hedge that we will do well to get a four at the Farm.

   The next is the short hole, and like most short holes a source of much misgiving. The green is rather heavy and is surrounded by tough tall grass so that a three here is good, and a two possible, and we have seen it done in one, a very creditable performance. The fourth presents nothing unusual and is followed by another awkward tee shot at the fifth. A good drive carries the hazard but a little ( at times a very little ) ill luck has cost a player many a stroke in the bunker.

   The next is good uphill going with the green on a plateau and uncomfortably near a wall. We regret not being witnesses of a novel but not-to-be-recommended way of taking this hole. The player sliced his drive over the avenue into a grass plot, took his mashie, cannoned off the church roof on to the green, and holed in four.

   Next comes the long hole whose 450 yards are beset with the combined difficulties of the first and fifth. The trees are usually carried at the third stroke with an iron but a few brave spirits have managed it with their brassy second, and on one occasion our local crack put his second ( an iron ) shot on the green.

   The eighth means two good shots with a wooden club down to the farm hole with its tricky green and a four is very good play indeed.

   The short hole is played again only to take us to a very sporting tee shot. A full iron shot will find the hole not far off but it calls for some courage to let out here as the green is well surrounded by trees which hide it completely.

   The next is of the drive-and-a-pitch variety with a nasty shot to follow if we pitch too far.

   Then comes a repetition of the sixth and the end of our individual descriptions, for to make up the necessary eighteen we replay six of the holes already mentioned. The lack of sand hills, etc., to form bunkers is hardly felt with its abounding natural difficulties and though the bogey stands at 72 few get anywhere near this score, especially among visitors, who, if they don’t exactly care to scoff, go away with respect for the player who went round in 70.

   Such is the Gartnavel Golf Course, a typical inland course, but rejoicing in the fact that after the first tee our view of the city is obscured and we might be “ miles from anywhere” but for the occasional rumble of a train. This latter feature, its feeling of isolation and sense of calm is one that is much appreciated by players as it conduces to enjoyment and holed putts, and last, but not least, an opportunity of getting in touch with the beauty of the surroundings.


(July 1912)

   "The golf competition has been in abeyance during the period the other games are persued but practice has been going on steadily, and in one case very brilliantly, for the gentleman did the first round of six holes in 22. The competition will be started again this month." *)ctober 1912)


   "Games are at present at a standstill owing to the condition of the ground. The golf-greens have had a “ top dressing” and the winter greens are being used by the enthusiasts who are playing just now. In October the St Vincent Cup was won by attendant Sinclair. Attendant John Wood being runner-up." (January 1913)


   "Golf still has its devotees, who persue the rubber-core with as much vigour as ever. We have to thank one of the gentlemen for presenting a cup to be competed for by our lady friends. The first round of the competition has been played ; but we cannot venture a guess as to side-board the trophy will ultimately adorn." 

(July 1913)


Ladies to the fore

   "Outdoor amusements are almost at a standstill these wet wintry days. Only golf, that perranial joy, remains with us. The summer greens have been carefully sanded, and are at present, forbidden ground ; but their winter substitutes are at least sporting, if at times rather trying. The St Vincent Cup was played for in September and October, and, place aux dames, was won won on each occasion by a lady, Miss D – (92 – 40 = 52). AND Nurse Whitecross (104 – 40 = 64). We congratulate the fair winners on their athletic prowess, but where are the men ? they must look to their laurels." (January 1914)


   "The golfers are beginning to take an interest in life again. The course is firming up after the winters rain, and soon the holes will be back to the summer greens. There is a scheme on foot, we hear, to lay down several bunkers in the East park, an improvement which, we are sure, would add to the excitement of what is already quite a sporting little course, and would be welcomed by all the devotees of the gutty.

The St Vincent Cup was played for in February, and was won by attendant Gardner, who returned a score of 75 -10 = 65. The sterner sex have re-asserted themselves." (April 1914)


   “Long driving is the order of the day. The new bunkers in the East field have added considerably to the hazards and the interest of the round, and are greatly appreciated by our many enthusiastic gowfers. The course was carefully measured recently and was found to be almost two miles long.”

(Evening Times, 17.7.1914)

   "This has surely been one of the finest golfing seasons on record. Since early spring there has been an almost unbroken succession of bright, dry weather. And golfers accordingly have reaped a glorious benefit. The St Vincent Cup Competition has been running since February and never within our knowledge have the entrants been so numerous, or the game so keenly practised as during the present season. A pleasing feature is the number of lady enthusiasts, and they also have been “pot-hunting,” as at least five names of the fair sex are to be found on the trophy. Beginning with August, the full medal course of 18 holes has been played; a better and more exacting test than the old round of 15 holes, enjoyable as it was. Mr W H ------- holds the record for the 15 hole course, 60 scratch; Mr A L -------, with 74, possesses the record for 18 holes, both compiled, it is to be noted, in the Trophy Competition. Mr Barr and staff are to be congratulated on the results of their careful treatment of the fairway, which shoes great improvement from previous seasons.

         Appended are the Cup winners, June to October inclusive, with scores:


June       Mr A L------             62       scratch                       (15 holes)

July        Attendant O”Hare    68       (15)           53            

Aug         Dr Ross                     83       (6)            77           (18 holes)

Sep          Nurse Kerr               114     (40)            74          

Oct          Mr D M------            95       (10)           85

(January 1915)

 Publication of the Gartnaval Gazette, which provided all the information on the activities of the club,  ceased during WW 1, and did not resume until 1921


 After The War


   "In addition to football, the golf-course is more or less in trim, and daily is being made use of. Rumour says that many perfectly good golf balls have been lost on the railway lines." (January 1921)


  "Golf is naturally in full swing; only some swing more fully than others. That dust-storm over there is merely Mr P. driving off. Note the far seeing look in his eye as he keeps it on the ball which should be sailing off towards the next green ; observe his pleased expression as, curling to the right, it easily negotiates the iron fence and takes cover in the long grass. And he has played since he was ten. Great are the mysteries of sport !. It is splendid exercise, though it is not always “ Gowf.” We hope more will take advantage of the course." (July 1921)


   "The weather has suppressed golfing activities to a slight extent, but we are glad to see an increasing number taking advantage of the course. Of course, we don’t imply for a moment that anything – even a volcanic eruption – could stop a real “ gowfer.” (January 1922)


   "Football has continued throughout the season, and our team has put up many hard battles. Golf is very much on the “ go” these days ; and the course is seldom without a patron, addressing the ball with much solemnity, or else hewing large divots out of the turf – and probably not replacing them." (April 1922)


   "There are still naturally those who swear fidelity to golf and can be turned aside to other gods only with difficulty. In fact, our standard has risen considerably lately. Have you seen Dr Baird doing mysterious things with a mashie ? He tells us it is all done by kindness." (July 1923)


   "Until summer time ended, golf was going strong. We are pleased to note the considerable number of ladies who are devotees. Even yet the golf course is rarely without some one engaged in beating the elusive rubber-core." (October 1923)


  "Golf is having its strenuous advocates. Ladies are forging ahead in this pastime, cult or sect. As it perhaps more than any other, the watchword is “ full swing,” But remember to keep your eye on the ball." (July 1924)


   "Even the keen golfer has had his ardour damped a good deal, but, of course, not suppressed. We do not yet expect the impossible. The advent of winter time has caused a certain amount of re-adjustment of the hours of play ; there are no longer the evening games ; but during the autumn there are usually periods when a bright period can be snatched and a healthful game indulged in." (October 1924)

This was the last available issue of the Gartnavel Gazette, and  no more information on the club has been found.

Golfhill House


Golfhill House. A course in the grounds, owned by Mr Dennistoun.

      “In former days the game was well known here (Glasgow), as may be guessed from the name of Mr Dennistoun’s property, Golf Hill, where, and also on Glasgow Green, it was formerly played.” (GH 30.9.1875)

Poloc cricket and Golf Club

In progress

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