Forgotten Golfing Greens Of Scotland
 Forgotten Golfing Greens Of Scotland

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Armadale's Golf Courses

 

Over the last century, golfers within the Armadale community have tried on four occasions to create a local golf course.  The members, with their own endeavour and funding, found it very difficult and, because of various circumstances, they all fell by the wayside.  The courses were:

1907 - 1915  Tarrareoch                 9 holes

  1917-1919   temporarily housed by Bathgate Golf Club

1919 - 1920  Cowdenhead              9 holes

1921 - 1927  Muirhall                     9 holes

1976 - 1977  Bridgecastle Masonic 4 holes

The fifth, 'Bridgecastle Golf Club', opened in 1998 and has been running for five seasons; it is a difficult and testing nine holes.  The layout and the design were created by Kevin Keane, a well-known player within the local golfing community.

 First Course

 

Proposed Golf Club for Armadale.   

 

   "For some considerable time a feeling has been growing among several of the townspeople that a golf course should be secured for the benefit of the people in the town.

   The result of a series of private meetings among those who had the project at heart has at last borne fruit. To-night a meeting called by postcard, and signed by provost Smith and Dr Anderson, will be held, when the feasibility of forming a golf club will be considered. If it is agreed that a club should be formed, it is expected that a small sub  -committee will be appointed to consider the question of securing a suitable fen. So far, we are informed , no site has been suggested.

   A number of Armadalians are presently members of Bathgate club, and it would appear that their enthusiasm in the game is gradually becoming infectious. No doubt if a good response is made to the invitation of issued by provost Smith and Dr Anderson the future of golf in the town is assured."   (WLC 24.5.1907) 

    “On the invitation of provost Smith and Dr Anderson a large meeting was held in Forsyth’s hall on the evening of Friday last to consider the advisability of forming a golf club in Armadale. The idea of Armadale having a golf course of it’s own has been in the air these last two years or so, but no definite shape was assumed until last Friday night, when ladies and gentlemen interested in golf met to consider the practicability of the idea.

   Provost Smith was appointed chairman, and he explained what they had met for, and invited discussion. It was eventually decided to start a club, as they had about 30 names to commence with, and had hopes of a larger number who could not attend the meeting.

   Dr Anderson was elected President, Mr Farquhar, Vice President, and Mr J.P. McCallum the secretary of the club. The election of further office bearers was left over until a further date. A sub committee was formed, composed of Dr Anderson, Provost Smith, Mesrs Farquhar, E Calder and J.P.McCallum to inspect the surrounding fields as to a suitable site, and also to interview the greenkeeper of Bathgate course as to the laying out of the ground selected, and the initial cost, etc. This being all the business to be transacted the meeting was adjourned until to-night ( Friday ) to consider the sub committee’s report.      

    On Saturday Provost Smith, Dr Anderson , Messrs McCallum and E Calder visited several possible sites for a course, and they ultimately decided to get particulars with regard to two which were thought the most suitable. One commences at the east main st, owned by Mr Drake, Middlerigg, and the other at Harthill feu, belonging to the Armadale co-operative society. It is understood that either of these two sites could easily be made into a nine hole golf course.”   (WLC 31.5.1907)

New course

 

   “On Friday evening a meeting of all those interested in the Armadale golf club was held in Forsyth’s hall. Dr Anderson presided over about twenty members, the inclement weather no doubt keeping many away.

   Dr Anderson explained that the sub committee appointed to consider sites had visited several likely fields. They had narrowed their choice down to two – one owned by Mr Drake and the other by the Armadale co-operative society. On further investigation however both these site were found unsuitable and so they were forced to look for more suitable ground. They had been very fortunate in finding a most suitable course quite near to the station. The ground was owned by Mr Smith, and was known as Tarrareoch. Mr Smith, after being consulted, agreed to impose a nominal rental, special rolling to be paid for extra. The meeting unanimously agreed to homologate the action of the sub committee and it was agreed to close with Mr Smith’s offer. The sub committee were thanked for their work.

   Mr John Shearer was deputed to see Mr Martin, Bathgate greenkeeper, and get him to come out and lay out the course. It was intimated that the membership stood at about fifty. It was decided that the course be opened on Wednesday first, 12th June with an exhibition game between the bros. Martin, Bathgate.

 

Description of the course.

 

   On Tuesday Mr James Martin, Bathgate visited the Tarrareoch course and staked out the ground, making it suitable for a nine hole course. Mr Martin says that the course, when properly laid out, should prove one of the best nine-hole courses in Linlithgowshire. The ground is clayey, and the grass in consequence short, and being well grazed, will not require much manual labour to keep it playable. The greens should also be easily kept in good order by rolling. The course possesses a large number of natural hazards, which will obviate the necessity for artificial ones and will give further zest to the game. The total length of the course works out at 2210 yards, and should be done in 37 strokes. The course occupies about 35 acres of land. The following further details will be interesting to golfers.

No 1. A private road and two rows of hedges require a good drive to negotiate another row of hedges with a treacherous ditch will prove the undoing of the unwary, while broken ground and a ditch a little bit further on will require steady play to get past, length 270 yards - well done in 4.

No 2. Though a short hole, will require careful manoeuvring. Broken ground, a hedge and a ditch all come in beautiful sequence, and the ball will have to be nicely played to get over the difficulties. A too strongly played ball will land on the railway. Length 150 yards - well done in 3.

No 3. A hedge has to be carried with the drive, and the player must keep well on for the green all the way, or he will find his ball among broken ground or on the railway. Both places are undesirable. Length 350 yards - well done in 5.

No 4. The player has to make headway between a large bing on the one hand and the railway on the other. With careful play this should be comparatively easy going Length 200 yards – well  done in 4.

No 5. A drive has to be made over a large hill, with broken ground to the right. When nearing the green, unless the shot is well taken, a row of trees will prove an unsatisfactory resting place for the badly played ball. Length 250 yards - well done in 5.

No 6. This is all plain sailing, and the easiest hole of the course. Length 180 yards - well done in 3.

No 7. This is the longest going. A couple of hedge rows have in turn to be negotiated, and will require careful playing to keep out of danger. Length 380 yards - well done in 5.

No 8. Here a good drive is secured off the top of a bing, which is well covered with grass. There will be no difficulty in getting over two rows of trees, but a pond may spell grief to a careless player. Length 250 yards - well done in 4.

No 9. This should prove comparatively easy. Unless, however, the ball is kept in a straight course, a hay field will be found to be a bad place for lost balls. Length 180 yards - well done in 4.

It must be understood that strokes stated are only approximate estimates as the course has not yet been played over.”   (WLC 7.7.1907)

Opening of course

 

   “On Wednesday afternoon, in delightful weather, the members of Armadale golf club opened their new nine hole course, under delightful weather auspices, bright sunshine being experienced all through the ceremony. Unfortunately the heavy rains in the early hours of Wednesday morning, made the course rather sodden in parts and while the state of the ground did not prove annoying to sightseers it made it very difficult for those giving an exhibition game. At parts the balls ran rather too easily, while at others they stopped almost dead. This was especially found to be the case on the greens where the putting was particularly difficult. This will be prevented in the near future by a plentiful dressing of the greens with sand. These difficulties however, only added further zest to the golfers, and were only additions to the natural hazards on the course. Indeed it is safe to say, that no other nine-hole course could prove so interesting. It is picturesquely situated and every hole is beset with peculiar difficulties, which will in time, make Armadale club very difficult to beat on their own heath.

Rows of trees, ditches, burns, hills all in turn have to be negotiated, and woe betide the unthinking golfer. Every drive and putt require most careful judgment, and once the local golfers have completely mastered the intricacies of the game on their own course, they will be capable in going further a field with assured success.

   On Wednesday there was a large gathering at the opening ceremony. Among those present were: - Provost Smith and Mrs Smith, Dr Anderson and Mrs Anderson, Dr Paton, Councillor Graham, Mr and Mrs Grieg, Crown Hotel, Mr and Mrs John Love, Mr Culbert, Mr and Mrs Smith, Tarrareoch, Mr and Mrs D.H.Young, Mr and Mrs Farquhar, Mrs H.Moffat, Mrs Gibb, Mr R.Blair, Misses McAra Cuthbert Shaw Simpson, and G Wilson, Mr and Mrs John Shearer.

   Provost Smith said – ladies and gentlemen, - I have a very pleasing duty to perform this afternoon, namely, to introduce to you the President of the new club to declare the green formally opened. (Applause). Dr Anderson has taken part in many public functions in Armadale. He has declared Bazaars open, Bowling greens open, to-day he is about to perform a unique ceremony for him. He has never yet declared a golf course open. Dr Anderson looks after the physical weakness of the people of Armadale. He is the enemy of fevers, and kindred ailments. But today his hope he believed, was that the people might take the fever of golf, and take it very badly. If they did it would not matter how they might lie they would not be helped by the doctor. (Great Laughter). I am sure to-day we are all proud to have a course and be in the running with our neighbours. It is, I am assured on good authority, the finest course of it’s kind in Linlithgowshire, and after the exhibitions by our friends from Bathgate, I am sure the people will have become so interested in the game that soon our membership will be at the maximum for the course. ( Applause ).

   Dr Anderson in formally declaring the green opened, referred to the great benefits that were to be derived from golf, especially, by those who were closely confined at work during the day. Golf was one of the most health giving pursuits that could be followed. They had at present a membership of nearly fifty, and there was still room for more. He hoped the course would prove a great attraction. He had pleasure in declaring the course open. ( Applause ).

   Mrs Anderson then drove off the first ball and her stroke was greeted with cheering. A foursome was then engaged in between Messrs James Martin and E Nichol and Messrs John Martin and A.S.Waddell. It was originally arranged that that the Bros. Martin of Bathgate, would give a game themselves, but it was thought that a foursome would prove more interesting. A large crowd followed the game.

   Starting for the first hole, all the players made sure of getting over the ditch, a row of trees and a private road. A.S.Waddell topped his ball, but managed with a slice of luck, to get through among the trees without striking any obstacle. The others cleared beautifully. Nichol took 4 but the others, through missing their putt took 5. The second hole was done by all in 4, though with better conditions, at the greens, they would all have been done in 3. In driving off for the third green, James Martin was the first to come a “cropper” to one of the natural hazards. His driving proved short, the ball landed among a bed of nettles, which cost him two strokes before he got out . The others managed the drive better, and finished creditably in 5.

   The fourth green was played in grand style by James Martin, who got home in 3, though Nichol took 5. The others had 4 each. For the fifth green a hill had to be negotiated, while there was a lot of broken ground within easy reach of a badly pulled ball. James Martin holed out in 4. It is safe to say that the sixth hole, which Nichol had in 2, was a record not likely to be beaten. He got on to the green with his drive, and holed out with his second. James Martin and A.S.Waddell took 4, while John Martin, through a miscalculation of the ground took 5. Driving to the seventh green, Nichol had a fine 5, but John Martin lost his ball just at the farm house, through going into a field. The others reached the hole in 6. James Martin had a fine 3 at the eighth hole, the others taking 4. All the players reached the last hole in 4, though it should be done in 3. Details of individual scores : -

 

James Martin ----- 5 4 6 3 5 4 6 3 4 – 40

E Nichol -----------4 4 5 5 4 2 5 4 4 – 37

John Martin -------5 4 6 4 5 5 7 4 4 ---44

A.S.Waddell ------5 4 5 4 6 4 6 4 4 ---42

 

The best scores made were thus :-

Martin and Nichol  ---- 4 4 5 3 4 2 5 3 4 – 34

Martin and Waddell --- 5 4 5 4 5 4 6 4 4 – 41

 

All things considered the scores registered were very satisfactory, and the game was evidently keenly watched by the spectators, who followed in the wake of the players.

   At the close of the game the players and spectators adjourned to Tarrareoch Farm, kindly laid at the disposal of the ladies of the golf club by Mr and Mrs Smith, where they were regaled to tea and cake, the lady members of the golf club being assiduous in their attentions to the friends present.”   (WLC 14.6.1907)

   "On Monday Mr James McNicoll and Mr James Morrison played off in the final for the Lady Ballie Trophy. The tie was stoutly contested, and was one of the best witnessed in the competition. In the first round Morrison finished 2 up. In the second round his lead was reduced to all square, and McNicoll finally with 2 up and one to go. In the competition for the prize given by Mr W.C.Syson, Bridge of Allan, Miss Forsyth was the winner, she defeating Miss McAra after a good fight."   (WLC 9.7.1909)

  "The golfing season is now in full swing, and under ideal weather conditions the members are putting in a great deal of practice in view of the various competitions.

A total of 50 gentlemen and 17 ladies have joined the club this season, which should prove to be the most successful since the opening of the Tarrareoch course."  

(LG 3.5.1912)

 

   "Golf is now in full swing, and some exciting and enjoyable rounds are made these fine afternoons and even early in the morning. The first round for the Lady Ballie trophy has been played and the draw for the second round has been drawn.

   A match Between Armadale and Whitburn took place on Saturday at Whitburn and resulted in a win for Armadale by 4 to 2"   (LG 24.5.1912) 

Golf Club temporarily Wound Up.

 

   "The members of Armadale Golf Club having come to the end of the lease of the course on Tarrareoch Farm, and being unable to renew it on satisfactory terms, have wound up the club for the time being, and appointed trustees to look after it’s interests.

   The lease having expired, the members of the club entered into negotiations with the farmer for a renewal of the lease, and this he agreed to do on the condition that a higher rent was paid. The members however, refused to increase the rent, and at a meeting last Thursday evening it was agreed to wind up the club and appoint trustees.

   The trustees have the power to arrange for another course and it is understood they have their eye on a more central position, and will set about at once to try and fix up a lease of it."   (LG 1.12.1916)

  "A special meeting of the members of Armadale Golf Club was held on Friday evening.

   An offer by Bathgate Golf Club to grant members of Armadale Golf Club equality of membership for ordinary play and with privileges of holding their own club competitions, was read. 

   It was unanimously agreed to accept the offer made by the Bathgate Club.  It was arranged to forward list of members agreeing to proposal to Bathgate Club."  

(WLC 30.3.1917)

 

   "On Saturday, on Bathgate Golf Course members of Armadale Club met and defeated Fauldhouse Golfers.  There has always been keen rivalry between Armadale and Fauldhouse Clubs and naturally Armadale men are proud of their fine victory." 

 (WLC 22.6.1917)

Second Course

 

   "On Wednesday evening the members of Armadale Golf Club, who have been without a golf course of their own since May, 1916, opened a new course at Cowdenhead.  The weather was good and there was a muster of some 40 ladies and gentlemen.  Rev. W.G. Kirk performed the opening ceremony.  Thereafter a mixed four-some match was engaged in president v. vice-president.

   The officials this year are President Rev. W.G. Kirk, vice-president, Mr D. Macfarlane, secretary, Mr A. Wallace, Academy Street, treasurer, Miss McGarrity"   (WLC 25.4.1919).

   " The club sweepstake was won by Mr G. Scott and Mr A. McLean with an equal score.  At present the members are on the look out for a new course, but so far they have not yet got anything quite suitable."   (MA 13.8.1920)

Third Course

 

   "The members of Armadale Golf Club have decided to lease a portion of the farm of Muirhall, situated on the left side of Linlithgow road opposite Colinshields as a golf course. A nine hole course will be laid out, and it is hoped to have it ready for play during the spring. The course is prettily situated and is sure to attract many new members."   (WLC 28.1.1921)

 

   "Armadale golfers are forging ahead and they hope to have the Muirhall course ready for play by the middle of April. Mr Neil Young, a North Berwick professional, has been engaged as greenkeeper, and he will superintend the laying out of the course, which is a nine hole one. In order to secure the necessary finances to meet expenses, a whist drive has been arranged to be held in March.

   In the same month a concert will be arranged for. Other means whereby money can be raised will be fixed up in due course. Meantime, members are helping and have agreed to meet a double subscription. Everything points to Armadale Golf Club being in the near future launched on quite a solid financial basis."   (WLC 4 2 1921)

Opening of the Muirhall Course

 

   “On Wednesday evening, under delightful weather auspices, Armadale's new golf course, situated about a mile to the north-east of Armadale, was officially opened.  The course was pleasantly situated, being surrounded by hill and fresh scenery, while the course itself, a nine-hole one, was one that called out a great variety of play.  In all the total ground covered ere the round was completed ran to 2139 yards, made up thus: No.1 hole, 218 yards; No.2, 114; No.3, 275; No.4, 172; No.5, 356; No.6, 270; No.7, 218; No.8, 183; No.9, 303.

   At the opening ceremony there were nearly 100 ladies and gentlemen present.

Mr G. Scott, President, said that it was a great pleasure to see such a large attendance at their opening function.  Thanks to the work of their professional, Mr Neil Young, and his assistants, and also to splendid help given by individual members, the course was in good condition.  They already had a good membership and he believed that before many weeks were over the most sanguine expectation of their most optimistic member would be more than realised.  He had pleasure in asking Provost Greig to perform the opening function.

   Provost Greig said, 'I need hardly assure you that it gives one great pleasure indeed to be here and to perform the opening ceremony.  I am sure that we are all pleased that we have, in this our third course, at last secured one which is as pleasantly situated and which is one that will attract players and help them to be good golfers.' He said that thanks to their professional, Mr Young, in an especial degree, and also to his assistants, to the members of the Committee and those other members who, true sportsmen, had given such excellent help, the course, in the short time at their disposal, had been splendidly laid out.  Every week would see further improvements, and very soon they would have a course that would be worthy of the best traditions of Armadale.  Applause greeted this. .' (Applause)

On the call of Mr Scott, Provost Greig was awarded a hearty vote of thanks.  Rev J. Drew said they were delighted that at last they had a course so admirably situated, and one which would bring out good play.  They were indebted to Provost Greig for having been able to get a lease of the ground.  It was Provost Greig who first suggested this site, and it was through his assiduity and tactfulness that they secured it. '

   Mr Scott intimated that the new clubhouse, situated near the old ruins, would be erected in the course of the next week or two.  A start would be made with the erection on the following Monday.

   The golf house would consist of two rooms, one for the ladies and one for the gentlemen.  Each would be well lighted.  There would also be an ornamental veranda.  The cost is estimated at £360.

   A foursome match, President v. Vice-president was then engaged in, and it resulted in a draw - all square. Miss Gladys Murray proved the most successful among the pairs, and she was presented with a little token to mark the fact.

   After the match, the members adjourned to the Town Hall where, after tea, a dance was held. The evening was voted a great success.”   (WLC 13.5.1921)

   "A warning notice is published in another column by the members of Armadale Golf Club against any unauthorised party or parties using the course. It is well that the general public should understand that the course is private property. Much damage has been done recently owing to unauthorised persons wandering over the course, and so perforce, the members of the club have been compelled to assert their legal rights. We are sure that to the respectable people the drawing of the attention to the matter will be sufficient. Other parties will be dealt with in a legal manner."   (WLC 10.6.1921)

Opening of a Handsome Club House

 

   “On Wednesday evening at Armadale Golf Course, a handsome Clubhouse was formally opened. The clubhouse is situated on the western apex of the course. The Verandah frontage extends to 45 feet, and there is a ladies room 20 by 18 feet, and a gents room 25 by 18 feet, each with modern conveniences.

   The weather was ideal for the function, and there was a large attendance of members and friends. Mr James Scott, President, introduced the Rev. J. Drew, who performed the opening ceremony. Rev. J. Drew said, it was with great pleasure that he agreed to perform the happy ceremony of opening their club house.

   They had, he thought, been very fortunate in having such a President as Mr Scott and such a virile committee. It seemed just a matter of a few days ago since they were gathered there to declare the course open.

   Now they were met to declare open these very fine palatial apartments. It reflected great credit on the President and his committee for the expeditious way they had got things done. He was sure that they were all proud that in addition to a fine course, beautifully situated, they had now an excellent club house. He had very great pleasure in declaring the premises open"   (WLC 8.7.1921)

The club house, in North Street, was converted  into a private house and was later demolished to make way for the Armadale Rangers' supporters' club premises.  The photo was probably taken in the 1920s.   (WLLS)

   "Provost Greig, on behalf of Mr and Mrs Ezzi, intimated that they desired to present to the club, for annual competition among the gentlemen, an ornamental clock. They suggested that play for the trophy be by stroke play competition, but they left that to be finally settled by the committee. Mr and Mrs Ezzi were most enthusiastic members of the club, and at all times had shown a keen desire to encourage interest in the game in their midst. He was sure their trophy would be accepted and appreciated.

   They would observe that this trophy was for gentlemen only, but lest the ladies think they had been overlooked, he hastened to add that he had good reason to believe that in the course of the next few weeks a ladies trophy would be forthcoming from other two members of the club.

   Mr Scott, on behalf of the club, accepted the Ezzi trophy, and called for cheers to the donors. He mentioned that Mr and Mrs Ezzi desired it to be made known that any player winning the trophy three years would receive from them, not the trophy, they desired that should remain with the club, but the winner would receive a trophy of equivalent value. "   (WLC 8.7.1921)

Lease of Course to be Cancelled 

 

   "At the Annual General Meeting of the Armadale Golf Club, held in the Co-operative Hall on that Friday evening, with Mr John McNicoll, President in the chair, the principal item of business was a recommendation by the Committee that the lease of the Muirhall course be cancelled.  It was explained that for a considerable time the members had been inconvenienced by cattle grazing in the course, and that the greens had been damaged.  The Committee and the farmer from whom the ground was leased had been in negotiation in connection with this matter and the farmers had intimated that they could not see their way to discontinue the practice of allowing cattle to graze on the course, and also, the ground nearer Armadale could not be granted.  The farmers, it was stated, offered no objection to the cancellation of the lease.

   After consideration, the meeting agreed to give up the lease.

   It was agreed to carry on the Club and to take steps to secure suitable ground for a new course.

   The financial statement was submitted and adopted.  Office-bearers were appointed as follows: President, John McNicoll; Vice-president, James McGarrity; Secretary, James Smail; Treasurer, John Pringle; Committee, Misses M. Stein and E. Chalmers, Messrs A. McEwan, J. Thomson, W. Falconer, A. Mungall, D. Stein, D. Wilkinson, H. McNeil."   (WLC 4 11 1927)

 

      The club disbanded in 1928.

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