Forgotten Golfing Greens Of Scotland
 Forgotten Golfing Greens Of Scotland

The Western section of the course as it looks today

Uisguintuie, Isle Of Islay.

Uisguintuie Golf Course ( Islay ) 1896.

 

Uisguintuie Golf Club. Instititrd 1896. An 18-hole course at Uisguintuie, on the western shore of Loch Indaal between Bridgend and Bruichladdich.

 

   "A meeting of those favourable to the formation of a golf course in the neighbourhood was held in the public hall on Saturday, 14th inst, Mr Forbes presiding. The chairman stated that a suitable site was available for the course at Gortan and Uisguintuie, the tenants having kindly agreed to grant the necessary land. A strong committee was appointed with Mr Forbes as convenor. Mr Cullen, National Bank, agreed to act as treasurer, and Mr Robert Cullen and Mr Hector McFadyen as joint secretaries. About thirty members were enrolled. The proposal is creating much enthusiasm, and it is expected that the committee will feel justified soon in procuring the services of a professional to lay off the course." (OT 28.12.1895)

The Eastern section of the course looking over towards Bowmore. This section had the first four and the last five holes with the clubhouse.

   “ Tom Morris of St Andrews has just visited Islay, and laid out a full course of eighteen holes at Uisguintuie on the shore of Loch Indaal, in the presence of an enthusiastic gathering of golfers. The course is beautifully situated, and naturally adapted for the pursuit of the game.  The soil is of a light, sandy nature, and dries very rapidly, so that play will never be hindered by wet ground.  The turf is all that can be desired.  It is close and velvety in growth, so that in a few months the putting greens will be in excellent condition, smooth and soft, preserving their natural contour, and making putting an interesting and skilful part of the game. Hazards such as every true golfer loves abound.  Sand bunkers are ready to trap the unwary golfer, whilst the close proximity of the turn-pike road and the shore will be a source of trouble to those who reluctantly follow a zigzag route whilst aiming at the "far and sure." The distances between the holes vary from 144 to 440 yards, affording scope for all kinds of play, and the full round is two miles and three-quarters.  Steamers call at Islay daily.  The nearest ports are Bruichladdich (a mile and a half) and Port Askaig (ten miles).  Bowmore is only twenty minutes sail across the loch.  By road the distance is five miles while to Bridgend it is three miles.  At all these places there is good hotel accommodation.

 

Length of Course,  4646 yards

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

Length                         176      236     270      220     225     301    233     324     420

in yards                       

               Hole No.       10         11         12       13        14         15        16       17        18

Length

in yards                       407      335      240    313     258      154      159     231     144

(EED 2.4.1896)

Course laid out in a beaytiful location along the shore. Ground is still intact.

    "Tom Morris speaks in terms of the highest praise of the course and predicts for it a growing popularity.

   A club has been formed briefly through the energy and enthusiasm of Mr J.Forbes, factor Ballacus House; fully 60 members nearly all in the district have already been enrolled and Mr Charles Morrison of Islay by a handsome subscription and promises of more support if required has shown his appreciation of the club’s formation and his desire for its success.  It is expected that era long the community will feel the benefit of this new course in the increase number of visitors to this the  prettiest part of the “Queen of the Hebrides”.  The course is distant from Bridgend about 3 miles Bruichladdich, about 1 ½   miles, Bowmore the capital of the island 5 ½ miles by road or 20minutes sail by boat across the loch, Port Askaig about 10 miles at all of which good hotel accommodation is to be found.  The most convenient ports for this side of the island are Port Askaig and Bruaichladdich; at the former the day steamer calls on Mondays and Thursdays and the night steamer on Fridays and at the latter the night steamer calls every Tuesday.

   On Saturday the course was formally opened by Mrs Cullen Bridgend.  Close on a hundred ladies and gentlemen were present among whom were Dr MacLachlan, Mr Thomson, Mr. Henney,Bruichladdich, Mr. Barrett, Mr Cockburn, Mr Tighe Port Charlotte, Mr Cullen, Mr Mitchell,Mr McGeachy, Bridgend, Mr Ball, Port Askaig, Mr Bryce, Mr McTaggart, Mr Cann, Bowmore,Mr McCormich, Sanaig, Messrs Clark, Sunderland, Mr Campbell, Coull,Mr Campbell, Grainal, Mr Cowan Blue House, Mr McTaggqart, Kilchearan, Messrs Gillespie, Craigens, Mr Forbes factor, who is an enthusiastic golfer, remarked on the beautiful situation of the course and its natural adaptability to the game.  Tom Morris he said spoke of it in the most glowing terms. The fact that nearly 80 members had already been enrolled would give an idea of the enthusiasm evoked in the district.  Mrs Forbes then presented Mrs Cullen with a driver requesting her to drive the first ball,which she did with an easy and graceful swing amid the applause of the onlookers. The usual voices of thanks having been cordially given a friendly game was engaged in after which refreshments were served out to the visitors." ( OT 11.4.1896)

   "The first competition for the monthly medal took place over the new course on Saturday last, when the medal was won by Mr Bryce, Bowmore, with a score of 103; Mr Forbes,Ellabus House, being second with 108 and Mr Robert MacGeachy, Skerros, third with 118.  About two dozen members took part in the competition." (OT 23.5.1896)

 

   "Last Saturday,favoured by glorious weather, which exhibited the beautiful surroundings of this newly-formed course under their most attractive aspect, the members of the club held their second competition for the club medal.  Since the formation of this club, the indefatigable captain (Mr M.Forbes Ellabus) and the managing committee have not been idle and have placed the members under a debt of gratitude for their exertions on behalf of the club.  Squads of workmen, under the judicious superintendence of Mr Cowan, Bluehouse,have rapidly got the course and greens into capital order; and although the want of a clubhouse is much felt at present it is understood that the committee have already taken steps to make this provision for the wants and comfort of the members,.A great many visitors have played over the course during the last few weeks, and have expressed the greatest satisfaction; and golfers, pleasure and health seekers, cannot do better than seek a holiday on the invigorating shores of Lochindaul, and test their powers on the new course.  With hotel accommodation of the very best kind close to the course at Bruichladdich, and Bridgend Hotel within three miles, both establishments, offering excellent hiring facilities, the club in every way offers unique inducements to visitors, and when better known the Usquintuie course must become widely popular. 

   Amongst those taking part in the game last Saturday were M.J.Forbes, Ellabus, captain; Messrs Cowan,Bluehouse;J.Cowan,EllabusMill;R.MacGeachy,Serrols; H.MacFadyen, joint secretary; J.Thompson and  W.P.Owaton, Bruichladdich; J.Stirling,Bridgend; R.MacCann, Bowmore; D.F.MacFadyen, Port Charlotte; M.Bell, Port Askaig; and others.  Some very creditable play was shown, and at the conclusion the best scores were found to be J.Forbes, 100; and A.Cowan,120-20, resulting in a tie.  It will be remembered that the former club medal competed for was won by Mr Brice, Bowmore, with a score of 103. All the arrangements for the match were in the hands of Mr MacFadyen, joint secretary, and were carried out in a way which, it is needless to say, gave the greatest satisfaction.  The fixtures for coming competitions of this club are- June 27th for prize of golf clubs and balls presented by Mr James Robertson; and on July 11, the third club medal." (OT 20.6.1896)

 

The tie resulting from the last competition for the club medal was played off on the 22nd ult., when the following scores were made:- J.Forbes, 110; A.Cowan, 131-30=111; the medal  thus falling to Mr Forbes.  On Saturday last a very large muster of members assembled to compete for the five prizes of golf clubs, bag, and balls, kindly presented by Mr James Robertson. Glasgow. Although the prevailing high wind was unfavourable to the players, good scores were made and the course presented a very animated appearance.  The winning scores were found to be:-

A.Cowan,Bluehouse 103-20=89

D.F.MacFadyen,Port Charlotte124-30=94

J.MacTaggert,Kilhearan 114-20=94

J.Cowan,Ellabus Mill 124-30=94

Mr.MacDougall, Bridgend 114-20-94

   The first prize of driver, iron, and putter, was awarded to A. Cowan; and the four players scoring 94 are to decide the order in which the four remaining prizes are to be allotted by a trial game on Monday.  The golf course continues to excite keen local interest, and vigorous practice is kept up." (OT 4.7.1896) 

   "On Saturday, the 11th, the members assembled on the links to compete for the third medal offered by the Club.  The weather being all that the most enthusiastic golfer could wish, and course and greens in the perfection of order, a most enjoyable meeting took place.  Since the last competition the difficulties of the course have been increased by the addition of several new and formidable holes; and a commodious club house in the centre of the links has just been completed.  The match arrangements were in charge of Mr. H. MacFadyen, joint secretary; and Mr Jas. Forbes; captain, was present during the afternoon.  The best score was found to have been made by Mr D. Gillespie, Corsapol,110-18=92, his nearest rival being Mr John McTaggart, Kilcheran,105.  Amongst welcome visitors to the course we noted Mr J.H.Dickson, commissioner, Islay Estate; Mr A.J.Higganbotham,captain of the Machrie Golf club; Mr P Reid, factor, Port Ellen; and others." (OT 18.11.1896)

   "On Saturday the first competition took place for the silver cup presented by Mrs Walker of Newholme, Pitlochrie.  The conditions are the cup to be won twice, the two successful players then competing together for its possession.  The weather was wet and unfavourable, but fourteen members took part in the match and played steadily, despite the wet condition of the links.  The best scorers were :- H. Gillespie,102, less 20-82: J. Thompson, 112, less 18-94: J Forbes (scratch) 102: J.Cowan, jr, 122, less 20 –102 and R. McGeachy, 125, less 20 – 105." (S 27.8.1896)

   "On the 15th  inst, the final competition took place for the club gold medal, with a large turnout of members. On cards being handed in result was found as follows;- J.Cowan senr.133-25=108; M.Bell, 128-20=108; J.Thompson, 132-18=114; with many other good scores. The tie resulting from this match was played off on the 22nd inst. With the following result:- J. Cowan snr; 144-25=119; M.Bell, 157-20=137; Mr Cowan thus becoming the possessor of the gold medal. Most of the members are now no longer in the novitiate stage, and creditable play is shown.  With the condition of the links gradually improving, and with some attention during the winter, the  new Uisguintuie course must next season be classed amongst the leading courses in Scotland."

(OT 29.8.1896)

   "A meeting of the club was held in the hall, Bridgend, on Monday the 8th inst; when a large number of members attended.  Mr Thompson, Bruichladdich presided,and explained that the business to be considered consisted of two proposals,  the successful inauguration of this club may be held as due to the enterprise and encouragement of Mr Forbes, captain who, unfortunately for the members, is shortly to leave Islay.  As a very small tribute of the esteem in which its captain is held by the club, it was agreed that the members subscribe for a testimonial to be offered to Mr. Forbes.  Afterwards, the club's decision, postponed from January 29th, came up for consideration, and a committee was appointed to make immediate arrangements. It has now been arranged that a grand ball will be held in Bridgend Hotel about the end of the present month, with the presentation to the captain on the same occasion." (OT 20.2.1897)

   "The members of the Uisguintuie Golf Club, Islay, at a ball held in Bridgend Hotel on Friday presented the Captain of the Club, Mr J.Forbes, J.P. Queen.s Commissioner, with a valuable inkstand.  Arrangements were made for a friendly game next day. Sixteen members turned up and agreed to play for sweepstakes, the prize-money to be handed to the secretary for transmission to the Rev. John S. MacCallum as a contribution to the bazaar fund for the new Mission Church to be built at Portbaan.  The scores of the prize-winners were;- 1, Mr J. Forbes(scratch), 112; 2, Mr J. Thomson(scratch), 113; 3, Mr N. MacDougall, 125 less 9-116.  

   The good things provided through the kindness of Mr Forbes having been done ample justice to, Mr Forbes in a short valedictory speech expressed his regret that this was his last game as their Captain.  Though the distance between Balmoral and Islay was considerable, he hoped to play many a game over their good course whenever he could spare a holiday. He advised the members to keep well together.If they did so he felt confident that the course would be well patronised in the future. A detailed report will appear in next issue." (OT 13.3.1897)

   "On Friday evening, 26th February, the members of the Uisguintuie Golf Club had a supper and ball in the Bridgend Hotel. The gathering was fully up to expectations, the dancing hall being comfortably filled. In the course of the evening Mr James Clark. Rockside, who fulfilled the duties of M.C.in a masterly manner, called upon captain Forbes to present the cup, so kindly given to the club for competition by Mrs Waller, to the winner,Mr Hugh Gillespie, Craigens.  Captain Forbes having done so in his own happy style, and Mr Gillespie having expressed his thanks, he called for three hearty cheers for Mrs Waller, which was given with right good will.  Mr James Clark then rising, said he had now the pleasure to call upon Mr Robert Cullen, Bridgend, to present to Captain Forbes a token of the good wishes and good will the club had towards him, and which he, as their captain, justly deserved at their hands. 

   Mr Cullen, in making the presentation, said "Ladies and gentlemen, this is indeed to me, as I know it is to you all, a most pleasing item on the evening’s programme. viz. the presenting to Captain Forbes of these pieces of plate, subscribed for exclusively by the members of the Uisguintuie Golf Club.  As you are all aware, the club is little more than in its infancy, and that being the case, its supply of  pocket-money is not large, but yet this presentation is to me a striking proof of the truth of the proverb, that “history repeats itself”, and I shall show you where the connection comes in.  Even in our day, we have the rich who are represented in this neighbourhood by the tenant farmers and friends of Islay casting their gifts into the presentation treasury, and we also find the poor widow of whom the Uisguintuie Golf Club is a fit emblem, contributing her mite. It is a matter of regret to all of us that Captain Forbes should have to leave us, but our Queen has commanded him, and he is compelled to go. And now Captain Forbes, allow me in the name of the Uisguintuie Golf Club, to present you with these pieces of plate, with all good wishes for your health and happiness, and we all fondly hope that Mrs Forbes and you may be long spared to use them and when you do use them, we can only ask that you allow your thoughts to wander back to old Islay, to the Uisguintuie strand, and to the hearty hand-shakes which at all times awaited you there."

   Captain Forbes in replying said, "Ladies and Gentlemen- I, hardly know how to thank you all and the other members of the club, who do not happen to be present to-night, for the beautiful gifts you have been so good as to make to me and more especially for the expressions of your goodwill which Mr Cullen has conveyed in his remarks.  I am deeply touched by your consideration and kindness, and I can only say that I feel I have done little to merit such a presentation from the Golf Club.  I would say to you all that although I am going away, I hope to come back occasionally to enjoy a game over the Uisguintuie links, and it would be a cause of real grief to me if the club were allowed to go down.  I would ask you one and all to do your utmost to infuse life into it, and particularly you ladies. I would ask you to join the ladies club, and I feel certain that when you take an interest in, and put in an appearance at our links they will be extremely popular with all the young men of the district at any rate.  Islay and its golfing attractions only require to be known to become a popular resort of pleasure-seekers, and I again would impress upon you the necessity for keeping up all its attractions.  I will not take up your time further, but you will allow me to say, that I hope when I do return to Islay for a holiday, I may know where to look for my old friends on the Uisguintuie Golf Links. I would again, for my wife and myself thank you for your kind wishes and gifts, and believe me, I feel grateful from the very bottom of my heart."

    A most pleasant programme was thereafter gone through and reflected credit on the managing committee. The purveying was in excellent taste, and Miss MacArthur, the hostess, spared no pains to make everything  comfortable and go merrily."

(OT 20.3.1897)

   "On Saturday last, the 18th inst, the first of four competitions for the medal presented by Mr James Forbes, H.M. Commissioner at Balmoral, took place on these links. Five couples took part in the game, and the best carsd handed in at the close were:- M. Bell 121 – 24 =97; J. Thomson 106 – 7 = 99; and J. Cowan 128 – 27 = 101." 

(OT 25.6.1898)

   “By 1900 the course had been reduced to 9 holes, varying from 150 to 440 yards, "to enable the club to keep it in better condition.”  The distance from the daily steamer has been greatly against the prosperity of the club, which is thus dependent entirely on local residents for its membership.  Despite all these discouragements and drawbacks, one is glad to understand that the roll contains over one hundred members, showing that the Royal Game of Golf is a favourite on the charmingly situated shore of Lochindaal." (NGI  1900)

 

The last entry in the Landlord’s papers, Islay Estates, referring to the course was in 1926, which suggests it closed soon after. 

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