This was the location of the clubhouse and first tee
TOMATIN GOLF COURSE
This ambitious venture began as six greens, situated on either side of General Wade’s road, between Smithfield, Mo Dhacaidh and the old A9, with the first green and Clubhouse nearest to the lay-by and approach road to what is now the lorry park. There is a venerable larch tree nearby, which could have many a tale to tell of close fought competitions and much enjoyment for many years, as well as voluntary labour on a challenging site.
A public meeting, chaired by Mr Junor, the Station Master, was held on 23rd September 1904 in the village hall (then tucked in on railway property between Bail an duin and the stone viaduct) to discuss the question of a golf course “for the place”. A letter was read from Mr Macbean of Tomatin, granting the use of Tomatin Aird during his lifetime for the purpose in view. Mr MacGregor, tenant, who was present, expressed his approval of the project and stated that he would have no objection as long as his lease lasted. The thanks of the meeting were conveyed to Messrs Macbean and MacGregor, and it was agreed that a general meeting be held at an early date to elect officers and a committee.
Thus the germ of an idea for a golf course at Tomatin took root, and there swiftly followed several meetings, held in the waiting room at the station-much cosy than the words suggest, with a fine coal fire in the grate. Mr Ludovie Macbean Esq of Tomatin and E Cox Esq, Balnespick were elected Hon. Presidents; J Macdougall Esq, Tomatin, President; The Rev A J Morrison, Manse of Moy and John Mackintosh Esq, Ard Kyllachy, Vice Presidents, The Secretary to be A J Macdougall, Tomatin; Treasurer Mr A Noble, Woodville. The Committee Mr J B Leonard convenor, Migvie; Mr J W MacGregor, Heights; Mr J Junor, Station House and Mr F Macleod, the Hotel.
Two names are a puzzle to me, ‘Ard Kyllachy’ and’Migvie’- ‘Dal’ as now. The Macdougalls lived in a fine house at Hazelbank, burnt down latterly. ‘Woodville’ was later Strathview, then Cottage of Free; and Heights is now Smithfield, though in his great enthusiasm for the enterprise, Mr MacGregor at one stage named it ‘Golf View’! He agreed to accept a rent of £2 for the course and made a present of that due for the first year as a donation to the Club.
Fund raising went on apace, and a Mrs Sefton arranged concerts. All members paid an annual subscription of 5/-, with an entrance fee of 2/6, ladies 1/-, visitors or non-members 6d a day or 1/- per week.
The successful tender for the golf course work was from Mr S Macdonald, at £14. Turf was offered by Miss Shaw, Miss Ross, Mr Macbean and Mr Noble, Free. The conveying of it to the greens was given to Mr Sharp, carter.
After many discussions and several readjustments to the course, it was finally declared ready for play on 13th July 1905 and, at the opening ceremony, Mrs Macbean of Tomatin drove off from the first tee with a specially donated silver mounted club, suitably engraved. Play followed by foursomes- “the sporting nature of the ground affords scope for a great variety of play and, being situated about 1100ft above sea level, is probably the highest golf ground in Scotland to date”. Lady members of the Club provided tea afterwards. (How I wish there had been a photograph of record the occasion.)
By 1908 it was suggested that 3 further greens be added, and the need for a shelter or Clubhouse emphasised. There are now 34 Club members on the roll. A special meeting of the Club was held in February 1910 to decide about the Clubhouse- hither to there had been insufficient funds for a building. The Hon President, Mr Macbean of Tomatin, came forward to offer a free side, as well as £5 towards the erection of the Clubhouse. He was heartedly thanked for his generosity, as well as his kindly attitude towards the Club since its commencement.
It was agreed that “the Clubhouse is to be built on the small knoll to the North, not far from the first green, constructed of wood, 14’ long, 9’ wide and 7 ½ high with a corrugated iron roof to jut out horizontally on one side to form an overhead projection 3’ broad, supported by 4 wooden pillars. It would have 3 windows, 16 lockers, and be lined and varnished within, and painted without. The work all to be done by Mr William Dunbar, carpenter, Dalnahoin, Corrybrough,Tomatin.” There were accounts for various fittings indoors and out- including one from Messrs Howdens & Co for 18 rhododendrons @ 9/-, plus 1/- for carriage!
Mention is made of Mrs Campbell, ‘Sawmill Cottage’, who was appointed caretaker for a salary of 10/- per annum, for which she offered to open and shut the building during the golfing season and keep same thoroughly clean. (I am not sure where her cottage was – there was a sawmill near where Fred Kelly now has his lorry park, but Mo Dhacaidh was a ruin,known as ‘the burnt house’ as far back as I can recall, 1930s. I well remember ‘Herchers’ funfair that came to the site each summer, great fun).
Subscriptions raised locally amounted to £32 19/- and previous expenditure was £29/9/8d, so the Clubhouse was not only free of debt but a surplus of 7/9d handed to the Treasurer! Members could now enjoy a copy of the Daily Graphic at ½ d to peruse in the Clubhouse during the season, and a mower was purchased in 1912. There were 40 members on the roll in 1910.
I will not weary readers with details of minutes of meetings, changes of membership and expenditure – mostly maintenance of the greens and keeping rushes and heather at bay, not to mention rabbit and cattle incursions, also Mr MacGregor said that players looking for lost balls were damaging his crops!
Many more lady members joined the Club and in 1915 it was noted that “competitions were greatly enlivened and the comfort of members kindly considered by the Matrons who provided an excellent tea on each occasion”. There were numerous generous prizes donated, with several impressive sounding cups, including the Noble/Macpherson Ladies challenge one, and the Callingham Cup- he was one of the Tomatin Distillery directors.
From 1916 it was decided not to compete for cups as, owing to the War, there were fewer players taking part- these recommenced in 1919. In 1920-21 there was an exchange of letters to John MacDonald, timber merchants, of the Sawmill, from the Golf Club members over damage to the course by their carts, but there seemed to be no satisfactory result from their requests for recompense,lasting several months. By 1922 competitions were being held with neighbouring clubs including Carrbridge and Rothiemurchus, and players were transported by ‘motor’, hired by Mr Farquhar-Distillery manager and a staunch supporter. Mr Mann took over the Heights in 1923, following the sadly regretted death of Mr MacGregor, who had been in high regard and had done so much for the Golf Club ever since its inception in 1904.
I do not know when the final games were played probably up until after World War 11, with a dwindling number of players, but the Golf Course had given great enjoyment and competition for seniors and juniors alike, and a sincere debt was due to those who helped voluntarily to maintain it, despite Nature’s efforts otherwise. One visiting sportsman in 1923, Sir Perry Robinson commented that he had played in various parts of the world, including Trinidad, the Canaries and China, but Tomatin Course had “features of its own”. He and his wife had come to play with 10 balls - had lost 17, but sill possessed 8! The Clubhouse went into dignified retirement as a henhouse-the lockers ideal nest boxes!
Local resident - April 2002
Proposed Golf Course
"A strong effort is at present being made to prove this popular summer resort with a suitable golf course. Few places in the Highlands, it is not too much to say, could be made more attractive to the tourist and holiday seeker than Tomatin. The scenery is of the finest, while its bracing atmosphere is second to none. The great draw back is, and has always been, the lack of facilities for out-door recreation. But steps are at length being taken to remedy this long felt want.
At a large and representative meeting held lately in the district, it was resolved to proceed immediately with the laying out of an excellent golf course on Tomatin ard, an elevated stretch of ground overlooking the village. With this view, the following office-bearers were appointed; Patrons, Lord Kyllachy and Mr Dewar, M.P. honorary presidents, Mr L. Macbean of Tomatin and Mr E. Cox, Balnespick; president, Mr J. Macdougall, Tomatin; vice-presidents, Rev. Angus Morrison, Moy, and Mr J. Mackintosh, Ard-Kyllachie, Tomatin; secretary, Mr Alex Macdougall; treasurer, Mr A. Noble, Woodville. Committee, Mr. W.J.B. Leonard, Megvie (convener); Mr J. Junor, Station; Mr F. Macleod, and Mr J. Macgregor.
These have already drawn up specifications, and now invite tenders for the work. Mr Macbean, the proprietor, has in more ways than one shown very hearty and practical sympathy with the scheme. So have visitors and others, whose subscriptions are here gratefully acknowledged. Mr. J. Dewar, M.P. £2 2s; Mr E. Cox, Balnespick, £2; Mr A. Noble, Woodville, Tomatin, £2; Mr L. Macbean of Tomatin, £1; Rev. A. Morrison, £1; Mr J. Mackintosh, solicitor, Ard-Kyllachie, £1; Mr J.B. Leonard, I.R. £1 Mr J. Macdougall, Tomatin, £1; Mr T.S. Macallister, Inverness, £1; Mr J. Junor, Station,10s; Mr D.P. Macgillivray, Cairo, 10s; proceeds of concert (organised by Mrs Sefton, Inverness) £3. 10s. further subscriptions from ladies and gentlemen interested in the district will be received and acknowledged by any of the above office-bearers" (NC 19.10.1904).
"On Saturday the pretty little new golf course which has been provided for this district was formally opened in presence of a good attendance of visitors and residents. The ceremony was favoured with excellent weather. It opened with a short speech by Mr Macdougall, merchant, Tomatin, who referred to the growing reputation of the place as a health resort, and to the necessity of providing a golf course, the need of which had hitherto been much felt.
In introducing Mrs Macbean, of Tomatin, who had kindly consented to open the course he handed her a presentation golf club and ball, the former bearing a silver inscription engraved on a silver band. The President then called on Mrs Macbean to drive off the first tee which was successfully accomplished amid the cheers of the numerous spectators. Mrs Macbean was heartily thanked for her services.
Mr Macbean in responding on her behalf, expressed the pleasure it afforded them both in being present at the inauguration of the Tomatin golf course. He described the beauties of the course, the splendid view from the top, the bracing air, course, the splendid view from the top, the bracing air, the varied flower and bird life of the place, and finished by wishing the club every success in its new venture.
Mr A. Noble, Woodville, on behalf of the committee, proposed a vote of thanks to the president, the visitors and all who had contributed to the success of the occasion, particularly to Mr McHardy of Inverness, whose advice in the selection of the site and the placing of the greens had been of the greatest assistance. Play then commenced by foursomes, visitors against residents, and a very pleasant afternoon was enjoyed. The ladies connected with the club provided tea and light refreshments, which were much appreciated. At present the course consists of only six holes, but it is intended to extend it as soon as the necessary funds are provided, there being ample space for enlargement. The sporting nature of the ground affords scope for great variety of play, and, being situated about eleven hundred feet above sea level, it is probably the highest golf ground in Scotland." (NC 19.7.1905)
"A meeting of the Golf Club was held in the Public Hall, Tomatin on Thursday evening Rev. Mr Morrison presiding. There were present Messrs A.Noble (Woodville), J.D. Macgregor, F. Macleod, John Macgillivray, Alick Macdougall, Finlay Macgillivray, Kenneth Macgillivray, James Noble, A. Cruickshank, George Mangall, Miss Macdougall, Miss Maclean, Miss Bessie Maclean, and Miss Macgruther.
The chairman remarked that is gave him great pleasure to see the increased interest taken in the course of late, more especially by their young people. He could not imagine a more delightful way of spending a summer evening. The wonder to him was that so many held aloof, not from golf only, but from every other form of recreation. He only hoped strangers coming to the place would not judge it by these do-nothings. They were certainly differently built to some of them. The Club had a grievance that they were not better supported by householders who advertised the course as one of the attractions of Tomatin, yet never contributed a cent towards its up-keep. Let these distinctly understand that something was expected of them. They wished to extend the course; they wished to provide a club-house, and all this required money.
The ladies were their best friends. They had now come forward and offered to organise a concert in September of each year in aid of the club funds. Let them have their whole-hearted support in that undertaking.
Mr Noble, treasurer, made a statement as to the income and expenditure for the year. It was considered satisfactory, showing, as it did, a balance of £6 12s 2d in their favour.
The following constitute the list of office-bearers for the season;- Honorary president, Mr L. Macbean, of Tomatin; president, Mr F. Macleod, Freeburn; vice-president, Mr John Macgilivray, Morile; captain, Mr J.D. Macgregor, Tomatinard; secretary, Rev. A.J.Morrison, the Manse; treasurer, Mr A. Noble, Woodville. The green committee consists of Mr T. Maclean, Station House; Mr James Noble, Dell; Mr F. Macgillivray,Barbole; Mr Kenneth Macgillivray, do.
Two medals fall to be competed for the ladies medal on Friday, and the gentlemen’s medal on Monday of each week." (NC 24.6.1908)
"Tomatin golf course, which was never better patronised than this season, was on Tuesday evening of last week the scene of an interesting competition, when the gentlemen’s medal, presented to the club by Mr A. Noble, Woodville, fell to be decided. A gratifying number of local players took part. Mr F. Macleod Freeburn Hotel, the popular President of the Club, followed close by Mr F. Macgillivray, Garbole, was declared the winner. Mr Macleod is a first-rate player, this being by no means the first golf medal that has come his way.
On the call of the Rev. Mr Morrison the medal was handed to the successful competitor by Miss Dollie Macdougall, Hazel Bank, the lady medallist for the year."
"The autumn meeting of the Golf Club was held in the Public Hall, Tomatin, on Thursday evening of last week Mr F. Macleod, Freeburn Hotel, president, in the chair. There were present Rev. A.J.Morrison (secretary), Messrs J.D. Macgregor (captain), John Macgillivray (vice-president), James Noble, Alick Macdougall, F. Macgillivray; Misses Macdougall and Misses Maclean. All ticket books in the hands of members and others were handed in, and payment made in every case.
Various accounts were submitted, passed, and ordered to be paid. The balance was on the right side, and amounted to the satisfactory sum of £10. 8s. thereafter the roll of members was revised, and found to be thirty-nine." (NC 14.10.1908)
"The spring general meeting of the Tomatin Golf Club was held in the Tomatin Public Hall on Friday evening of last week Mr John Macgillivray, president, in the chair. There was a good attendance of members.
The following office-bearers were elected; Hon. President, Mr L. Macbean of Tomatin; president, Mr John Macgillivray; vice-president, Miss Dollie Macdougall; captain, Mr F. Macleod; secretary, Rev. A.J. Morrison; green committee, Messrs Macgillivray, Macgregor, and Macleod.
The financial report, submitted by the secretary, showed a balance of £2. 11s in favour of the Club. Satisfaction was expressed that the new club-house would be opened free of debt in the course of a few days. Subscriptions towards the building fund were intimated from the following ladies and gentlemen, to whom the Club are deeply indebted;- Mr L. Macbean of Tomatin, £5 Mr Evelyn Heseltine, Kyllachy, £3. 3s Monsieur Foulds, Coingafearn, £2. 2s. New Tomatin Distilleries Co. Ltd. £2. 2s. Mrs Mackintosh of Balnespick, £2. Sir John Dewar M.P. £1. 1s Mr W.D. Ogilvy, Rumbling Bridge, £1. 1s. Mr A.J. Macdougall, Tomatin, £1. Rev. E.L. Browne, Glenkirk, £1. Rev. A.J. Morrison, Tomatin, £1 Mr John Macgillivray, Tomatin, 10s. Mr John Mackintosh, solicitor, Inverness, 10s. Captain Dalgety, Glenmazeran, Tomatin, 10s. other sums, £2. 3. 6d.: (NC 20.4.1910)
"On Monday evening a match was played between married men versus single, which resulted in a win for the single men by 5 matches to 1." (NC 20.7.1910)
The club had its half-yearly meeting in the Strathdearn Hall on Friday Miss Macbean, Tomatin House, president, in the chair. There was a good attendance of members among others, Messrs W.J. Browne, J. Hunter, Don. Noble, vice-president, J.Noble, J. Macgillivray, a. Junor, J.D. Macgregor, J. Cruickshank, f. Macgillivray, G. Manson, M.A. Miss Macdougall, Miss M. Macdougall, Miss M. Macdougall, Miss Bessie Maclean, and Rev. A.J. Morrison,secretary.
The financial statement submitted showed a satisfactory balance on the credit side, and it was resolved to spend a part thereof in various improvements suggested by members.
Mr Browne made the pleasing intimation that Mr F.R. Callingham, Essex, one of the distillery directors, had presented the Club with a handsome silver cup, the competition to be either by mixed foursomes or mixed singles as the Handicapping Committee might decide. It was decided to have the competition in July, and that it should be open to visitors. The secretary was instructed to convey the hearty thanks of the Club to Mr Callingham for his gift.
Wednesday was fixed upon for the formal opening of the course for the season, when the lady members are to provide afternoon tea in the club-house. Mrs Campbell was appointed caretaker for the year.
On the call of Mr Hunter, Miss Macbeau was cordially thanked for presiding."
The competition for the silver sup presented by Mr F..R.Callingham,chairman of the New Tomatin Distillers Company, Ltd. and for the miniatures of the cup, presented by Mrs Callingham, took place on Wednesday. The results of the competition is as follows :- J. Wilson (plus 2) 52; D.Noble (8), 52; H.A..E. Mackenzie (5) (5) 53; J. Mackenzie, Bindle (8), 54; J. Hunter,(12), 55; W.J. Browne (plus 2) 56; Miss Bessie Maclean (20) 61; Miss Maclean (20), 67; Miss Macgruther (20) 67; Miss Macbean (20) 68 Messrs Wilson and Noble played off their tie on Thursday, and it ended in favour of D. Noble Mrs Macgregor, Tomatin, presented the cups to the respective winners; Miss B. Maclean (miniature), D. Noble (cup and miniature)."
A match of married men versus single men was played at Tomatin on 22nd July, with the former winning by 6 matches to 4." (NC 24.7.1912)
"The annual general meeting of the Tomatin Golf Club was held in the Strathdearn hall on Monday, 7th October Miss M. Macbean, Tomatin, president, in the chair and in the absence of the treasurer, Mr A. Noble, Strathview, the annual report was submitted by Rev. Mr Morrison secretary. It showed a membership of 60, and a credit balance of £7 11s.
The chief event of the season was the competition for the two Callingham silver cups, which, after a somewhat keen contest, went to Mr D. Noble, Balliemore, and Miss Bessie Maclean, Station House.
Several much-needed improvements on the course were decided upon, to raise funds for which the lady members present Miss Macbean, misses Macdougall, and Misses Maclean agreed to organise a concert for Wednesday evening, 16th curt.
The following are the office-bearers for the coming year; Hon. President, Mr L. Macbean of Tomatin; president, Mr W.J.Brown, Glendearn; treasurer, Mr A. Noble, Strathview; secretary, Rev. A.J. Morrison, Moy Manse; green committee, Messrs Browne, Macgregor, Hunter, Cruickshank, and Macgillivray." (NC 16.10.1912)
"On Wednesday evening the annual general meeting of the Tomatin Golf Club was held in the Club-house. Unfortunately, the weather was unfavourable, but there was a very good attendance.
Mr McGhee, Glendearn House, was elected president and Mrs Farquhar, Distillery House, vice-president, while Mr Saunders, London, managing director of the Tomatin Distillery, was re-appointed honorary president.
The following were appointed members of committee Mr A. Mackenzie, Miss Annie Fraser, Mr Mann, Mr D. Campbell, Miss Finlay, Miss L. Douglas, Mr Bob Munro, while Mr Leslie, Schoolhouse, was re-appointed secretary and treasurer.
As the evening proved too disagreeable for golf an impromptu whist drive was organised, the prize-winners being Ladies, Mrs Leslie, Schoolhouse; gentlemen, Mr Don. Fraser. Tea provided and prepared by a committee of ladies was served. A very enjoyable evening was spent." (NC 29.4.1925)
"The membership of the Club is this year larger than it has been since the Club was organised. Under the presidency of Mr J.W. McGhee, Glendearn House, the members exhibit keen enthusiasm in the game." (NC 17/6/1925)