Forgotten Greens of Scotland
Forgotten Greens of Scotland

Old Niddry Castle, Winchburgh


Winchburgh Golf Club.  Founded 1907.  A 9-hole course at Tippet Knowes, Glendevon, 10 minutes from the station.

   “A public meeting was held in the Public School for the purpose of forming a Golf Club for the district.  In the absence of A. Agnew Ralston,Esq; through indisposition, Harry Armour. Esq; of Niddry Mains, occupied the chair, and there was a good attendance of ladies and gentlemen.  Letters of apology for absence were read from the following gentlemen;  A.Agnew Ralston, Esq; P.A. Somerville, Esq; A.D.McLagan, Esq.

   The Chairman remarked upon the  long-felt want of some form of active recreation for the neighbourhood, and indicated that the movement to form a local Golf Club had been approached on the subject, and the present meeting had been convened to give an opportunity to those interested to form themselves into a club.  He had much pleasure in formally moving that they institute the Winchburgh Golf Club, The Rev. W.T.Wishart, Abercorn U.F.Church, in an enthusiastic speech, supported the Chairman’s motion, which was carried by acclamation. 

   The chairman intimated that a very suitable ground for the Golf Course had been found at Tippet Knowes, on the farm of Mr Somerville of Glendevon, who had readily agreed to submit terms for the consideration of the Golf Club.  The course, which will extend to some 42 acres, is in many ways an admirable piece of ground for the purpose, and contains several natural hazards dear to the hearts of the sporting golfer. 

   An estimate of the annual expenditure showed that an annual members’ subscription of 10s for gentlemen and 7s6p for ladies would be sufficient, and it was agreed that youths under 21 years of age be admitted to membership on the same terms as ladies. 

   The following office-bearers were appointed;  Hon. President, S. Agnew Ralston, Esq; Hon. Vice-Presidents, H. Armour, Esq; P.A.Somerville, Esq. and A.D.Maclagan, Esq; Hon. Joint Secretary and Treasurer, Messrs Cassels and Fowler; Committee, Rev.W.T.Wishart, Dr Bartholomew, Messrs J.Black, W.Scott, H.Angus, W.Allison, J.Brown Peacock, T.M.Woodcock, and Mrs fowler, Miss Robb, and Miss Bartholomew. 

   It was agreed that the Committee be empowered to draw up the necessary rules, to arrange for a lease with Mr Somerville,to obtain professional advice in laying out the course and to procure the services of a greenkeeper; but the proposal that a club house be erected was delayed for further consideration.  On the motion of Mr W. Scott, a hearty vote of thanks was recorded to Mr Armour for the able manner in which he had carried out the institution of the club.”   (WLC 8.2.1907)


  “In our last week’s issue it was stated in error that the gentlemen’s annual subscription was to be 10s, the proper amount should be 15s, with no entry fee. 

   We understand that the Committee appointed Mr Anderson of the Braid Hills Golf Course to lay out the course at Winchburgh and that an early start is to be made with the necessary work.”   (WLC 15.2.1907)


   “The golf course on the Tippet Knowes has been laid out to the satisfaction of the club, and the office-bearers are now receiving the congratulations of friends on their success.  Although the date of the formal opening has not been fixed yet, numbers are using the greens. 

   The committee’s expectation of a large succession of membership from the neighbouring towns and districts is already been justified.  But the Edinburgh and Kirkeaston contingents are still waiting on their members.  We hope the energetic secretary of the club will get the members to move in proper fashion, as it promised in March to do.”   (WLC 3.5.1907)

Formal opening of course


   “Since it was announced in these columns some three months ago that a golf club had been formed at Winchburgh and ground secured for a course on the Tippet Knowes of Glendevon, no time has been lost in laying out the ground. Play has been going on for the past few weeks, and the course was formally opened on Saturday afternoon.

   The function was made a social one.  Mr Ralston the Hon.Vice president, being abroad,was unable to be present, and several letters and messages of apology for absence were received from others, but members and friends to the number of present when Mr. Somerville of Glendevon in a few chosen words declared the course opened, and called on Mrs Armour of Niddry Mains to drive off the first ball.  Mrs Armour was presented with a handsome cleek by Dr. Bartholomew, on behalf of the club,and with it the gracefully struck off the teed ball.

   Photos of the group having been taken, an excellent tea was then provided by the lady members of whom there are quite a number.  After a very agreeable time spent in this way, sides were chosen by the two hon. Vice presidents present. viz. Messrs Somerville and Armour.  A double round of the course was made, and on the scores being counted it was found that Mr Armour’s side had a majority of two matches.

   The weather was delightfully bright-if a little cool and a most enjoyable and  exhilarating afternoon was spent, the varied beauty of the landscape as seen from this new vantage ground being much admired.


Description of course


      “As the name “Tippet Knowes” implies, the ground is on a series of ‘Knowes’ (or hills), four of which are tipped with trees, hence the name.  The ground extends to some 42 acres of meadowland.  D Anderson, of Braid Hills course, who laid out the course, has made excellent use of the many natural hazards which the clumps of trees, the grassy ridges and banks, the small quarry, the general undulating nature of the ground, and the Glendevon Burn, which bounds the course on the north side for its entire length, provide.

      The tee for the 1st hole of 230 yards, is near the eastern entrance gate which is within twelve minutes walk of Winchburgh Railway Station.  In this hole no difficulties encountered until the player approaches the green, which is placed on a saddle between two of the patches of trees, and near the highest point of the course.

   No 2. The short hole of 167 yards to the foot of the brae at the east end of the course is most deceptive in appearance.  Most players fancy itis an easy cleek shot, but find it requires a bit of doing with the iron club.

   No 3. The long hole of 526 yards starts with a drive up a fairly steep and rounded hill, and a carelessly placed drive suffers badly, the first taste of the burn being occasionally obtained.  Good brassy play may now be had, but the sloping nature of this ground - when the burn which introduces a dog-leg variety to this hole is too closely approached - lands many a sliced shot in trouble.

   No 4. 292 yards long, is over a fine open stretch to the saddle, where a double green is formed  with No 1, and involves a careful approach owing to the sudden drop of the ground just over the green.

   No 5. 372 yards, is teed in a clearing amongst the trees on the second knowe; the first fifty yards though quite open is boulder-strewn, and a foozled or topped ball is usually severely penalised. More brassy play brings the player to the first of the made greens near Glendevon House.

   No 6.  313 yards, is over more knowes, and in this instance the green is protected by an outstanding tree of the western clump and a small quarry hole.

  No 7. 220 yards, the drive which is through a sufficient clearing amongs the trees, which are here growing on a high grassy bank, also requires to be well taken.

      No 8. 242 yards, is played at an angle through a glade and over another grassy ridge between two of the clumps of trees forms another testing line and is also an interesting hole.  By a short walk of about seventy yards up to the side of the wood, the nicely placed teeing ground for the ninth hole is reached.

   No 9.  306 yards, in this hole the boundary introduces itself at a point where a long drive slightly sliced is penalised.  The approach to the home green—which like other five is hided from the teeing ground—is somewhat difficult on account of the rounded knowe in front, many shots rolling right or left on that account, but the green, which is one of the made-up bowling-green order, is easily negotiated.”  (WLC 24/5/1907)

   “The Winchburgh Club is to be congratulated on having secured so interesting a course, and in having it so well laid out.  They are also fortunate in having been early presented with a handsome medal for competition, the donor, D.F.Mackenzie, Esq; one of the originators of the now famous Morton Hall course, being greatly interested in the new course.

   Other prizes are promised, and a start is being made this week with a competition for a monthly medal.

   With a membership of some sixty ladies and gentlemen, success is already assured, and with the terms 15s for gents, and 7s6d for ladies and youths, the course only requires to be known to be taken advantage of.”  

(MG 24.5.1907)

The first annual general meeting of Winchburgh Golf Club was held on Wednesday, November 20th.  There was a large attendance of members, and Harry Armour, Esq., president, occupied the chair.  The treasurer submitted a financial statement, which showed a slight balance against the Club, and which was considered satisfactory by the meeting.  It was agreed to have the balance paid by the members pre-paying their subscriptions,

   Mr Wright, Bridgend, and Mr Walter Scott. Glendevon, were appointed captain and vice-captain respectively, while all the old office-bearers were re-elected. Mr Mulvenna was appointed joint match secretary. 

   Several prizes were announced for next season, and competitions were fixed to begin in Spring.  A “foursome” match was arranged to be played on the 8th December commencing at one o’clock.  A vote of thanks to Mr Armour brought the meeting to a close.”   (WLC 6.12.1907)

 “The golf season of Winchburgh Club was formally opened by the Marquis of Linlithgow on Saturday last.  A fourball match was then played by the Marquis and Mr Gordon Lockhart, Prestwick, and Mr H. Kingsley Brown, Mortonhall, and Mr Walter Scott,Jun; Winchburgh. At the close the former couple were two up.  The game was followed by an interested crowd.  At the close, the Marquis presented the club with two beautiful silver cups with plinths, to be played for under handicap foursomes.”  

 (MG 16.4.1912)


 “A further meeting of the golf club was held in the Bowling House on Wednesday night, with Mr Robt. Thomson as chairman.  In opening the meeting Mr Thomson said that a reduction of £5 had been made by Mr Anderson in the rent of the proposed new course, which the deputation had accepted.  The conditions of the lease being submitted and found satisfactory, were accepted on the motion of Mr J. Johnston and Mr. I. Long. 

   The following sub-committee was appointed:-  Green Committee- Messrs D.Rankin, T.Kerr, I.Long, and R.Thomson, the work to be commenced at once to allow play to begin on Saturday, 27th April,Messrs D. Rutherford, T. Kerr,and Robt. Thomson were elected to draw up rules and submit same at a further  meeting.”   (MG 26.4.1912)

The club became defunct during WW1 - see article below

Revival of club and proposed new course


   “A general meeting of the members of the late Golf Club was held in the Public School on Thursday night of last week to discuss the project of a new golf course.

   The chairman that the meeting had been called for the purpose of considering a new course in the grounds of Niddry Castle which had been offered by Mr James Anderson at a rental of £30 per annum.  In his opinion the rent was far too dear, and a deputation should be sent to try negotiations with Lord Linlithgow with a view to having a better course for the village. 

   At this stage a member asked for a financial statement of the golf club that became defunct during the war.  Mr H.C.Weir, who was secretary at that period, said that to date a balance of £23 was in the bank to the credit of the club. 

   After a general discussion Mr W Rutherford moved that a deputation be appointed to interview Lord Linlithgow with a view to having a better course, or to try and get a renewal of lease of the old course at Feucheldean, which was seconded. 

   An amendment was moved by Mr T. Kerr that the ground which had been offered by Mr Anderson be accepted even at the rental he stated, but an effort be made to have it reduced, which was seconded by Mr Robert Thomson, Threemiletown. On the vote being taken, 15 voted for acceptance of the new site, 5 voting for the motion. 

   Mr Pentherer and Mr Thomson were appointed to approach Mr Anderson to try and get a reduction of the rent if possible. 

   The question of laying out the course was discussed, when it was suggested to have an expert.  Eventually it was agreed to leave the matter in the hands of Mr Walter Scott, who is well known in the county as a golfer of repute, to lay out the course. 

   The following is a list of fees, which were drawn up-  Gentlemen. £1; ladies, 12s 6d; from 16 to 18 years 10s and from 14 to 16 years, 5s other charges to be left with the committee.  The appointment of officials and committee resulted- President Mr J Pentherer; vice-president, Dr Fraser Orr; secretary, Mr T. Rutherford; treasurer, Mr R. Thomson; captain, Mr R. Rhomson, Threemiletown; vice-captain, |Mr J. Johnston. Committee- Messrs T. Kerr, P. West. W.Rutherford, A. Hogg, W.Neil, J.Long and D. Rankine.  The appointing of a greenkeeper was left with the committee.”

(WLC 18.4.1924).


   “A further meeting of the golf club was held in the Bowling House on Wednesday night with Mr Robt. Thomson as chairman.  In opening the meeting Mr Thomson said that a reduction of £5 had been made by Mr Anderson in the rent of the proposed new course, which the deputation had accepted. The conditions of the lease being submitted and found satisfactory, were accepted on the motion of Mr J. Johnston and Mr I. Long.

   The following sub-committee was appointed – Green Committee- Messrs D.Rankin, T. Kerr, I. Long, and R. Thomson the work to be commenced at once to allow play to begin on Saturday 27th April, Messrs D. Rutherford, T. Kerr, and Robt. Thomson were elected to draw up rules and submit same at a further meeting.”   (WLC 18.4.1924)



      “The new golf course at Winchburgh was officially opened on Saturday afternoon, Mrs Fraser Orr driving the first ball.”  (WLC 20/6/1924)

Opening of new Golf Course


   “The new golf course at Winchburgh was officially opened on Saturday afternoon in splendid weather.  The attendance which was the largest ever seen at a function in the village, would reach between six and seven hundred.  The brass band was in attendance, and played prior to the opening. Dr Fraser Orr, who presided over the large gathering, said it gave him great pleasure to be present on such an occasion, and it also gave him an opportunity of meeting the village people.  The doctor then described the benefits to be derived from golf as a recreation also giving some of his experiences as a golfer at Carnoustie which were greatly enjoyed.

   He then declared the course open, and called on Mrs Fraser Orr to drive the first ball, for which she received a rousing cheer for her effort. 

   The company was then entertained to tea provided by Mr Haig, the band supplying the music.  The Rev. J.N.Balfour, Mr Wright, Bridgend, and Mr Pentherer also addressed the company.  A two-ball match was then engaged in, a large number of players taking part.”   (WLC 20.6.1924)

   W G F Scott won the Menzies Trophy, the County Championship, for 1925.


  Winchburgh GC beat Bathgate GC in the final of the “West Lothian Courier” Challenge Trophy, 1925


Trophy: D F McKenzie Medal

Membership 60. 


The course closed in 1961 when it reverted to grazing land for the Earl of Hopetoun..                     


A new club, Niddry Castle G C, was formed in 1984.

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