- Top 100
- Dan Soutar
Dan Soutar was the second eldest in a large family of eleven so he was more or less forced to leave school early at the age of 12 to earn a wage and support his siblings. He caddied at Carnoustie then apprenticed at 14 as a cabinet-maker.
Soutar decided to emigrate to South Africa with his golfing chum Jas Scott but whilst en route to their new life they received a cable from another pal, Carnegie Clark, which read: “do not stop in Cape Colony proceed on to Port Jackson, employment arranged.”
Clark had turned professional and was working with Holdsworth McPherson in one of Sydney’s large department stores, promoting the game and selling golf products, so he arranged for his Angus compatriots to join him in Australia.
Soutar would work in a different department, while Scott became the professional, manager and green keeper at Blue Mountains Golf Club, which was Clark’s first course design in 1902.
Three months after stepping onto Australian soil, Dan won the 1903 Australian Amateur Championship, beating another Scotsman, Jim Howden, 3 and 1 in the final. He also won the NSW Amateur that year then repeated the feat twelve months later.
He played in the very first Australian Open in 1904, finishing a commendable third, but he ran away with the event twelve months later at Royal Melbourne, beating his nearest rival by ten strokes. He never won the competition again, finishing runner up in seven of the following nine editions.
Carnegie Clark and Dan Soutar moved to Royal Sydney Golf Club when Clark’s store contract ended in 1905 so he effectively turned professional that year, writing a book on golf entitled The Australian Golfer during the time they were together at the club.
Starting in 1905, Soutar also participated in the first three editions of the Australian PGA Championship, winning each of those match play finals by a convincing margin. He then claimed his fourth and final title at Glenelg in 1910 with a two-round stroke play total of 150.
He left in 1907 to become the professional first at Marrickvale Golf Club (now known as Bonnie Doon) then at the Blue Mountains Golf Club before settling at Manly Golf Club in 1911. Whilst there, he had Joe Kirkwood as his assistant and also taught Jim Ferrier and Ossie Pickworth, playing a significant role in the development of these future champions.
Soutar moved a decade later to Moore Park Golf Club, remaining there for another ten years before becoming involved with F J Palmer and Sons, a downtown Sydney sports store, where he taught lessons. In 1937, he was hospitalized with appendicitis but contracted an infection and never recovered.
He was survived by his wife, daughter, and two sons.
The Golf Course by Geoff Cornish and Ron Whitten: “Soutar learned golf on the links of Carnoustie, where he watched and mimicked the swings of Freddie Tait, Archie Simpson and Willie Smith. He apprenticed as a carpenter at age 14, but decided early on that he wanted to be a golf professional. Soutar moved to Australia at the urging of his boyhood friend and golf rival Carnegie Clark (who would eventually also design many courses in that country). The two formed a club-making and teaching partnership and they soon were hired by Royal Sydney GC.”
Darius Oliver Planet Golf: “An expatriated Scottish golf professional, Dan Soutar made quite an impression during golf’s glory days in Australia, by routing and designing the wonderful Kingston Heath golf course in Melbourne. Although Dr MacKenzie finished the course by planning the bunkering, it was Soutar’s layout that elevated Kingston Heath beyond its flattish surrounds to the gem we admire today. He also designed the Elanora Country Club in Sydney among other credits.”
Golfclubatlas interview with Kingston Heath member Richard Macafee: “Dan Soutar is one of the most significant early father figures of Australian golf (and he) was a course designer of note. Aside from designing Kingston Heath, he submitted an impressive plan for Royal Adelaide which, while not embraced, included many green sites that are identified in the routing that we see there today.
Soutar also designed Marrickvale, Concord, Indooroopilly, Armidale, Pymble, Christchurch and several 9-hole layouts, as well as others no longer in existence. He consulted Elanora, Wagga Wagga, Bankstown and others.
Dan Soutar was an influential administrator – playing an integral role in the formation of the Australian PGA, and filling several executive roles over a 12-year period. Soutar also penned the first Australian text on our game – his 1906 The Australian Golfer – which provides a fascinating insight into his philosophies on golf.”
Obituary in The Referee newspaper on 2nd December 1937: “Soutar was a product of the famous Carnoustie course, and his charming manner and knowledge of the etiquette of the game soon made him a warm favourite in golf circles of Australia. He arrived in this country at the top of his form and was for many years a difficult man to beat in the best company.
The passing of Dan Soutar is a distinct personal loss to those who knew him well. To them he was more than a noted golfer – one of the greatest figures in Australian golf –he was a man of high principles, with nothing mean in his make-up, one who did much to place the golf professional on the plane he enjoys to-day.
One talk with him would bring home the fact that he was not a ‘glorified caddie boy,’ as professionals were once described and treated in Great Britain. A strong personality, he did not demand respect. It went out to him naturally. In his job he did not obtrude his views, giving them only when they were asked for. Then he stuck to them.
Retained by one club as an adviser to the green committee, he clashed with the captain of the club. Neither would give way. The job meant bread and butter to Soutar at the time, but he did not hesitate. The prospect of getting another job was not bright – there were not so many golfers as there are to-day – and he resigned, to the amazement and regret of the man with whom he differed. The captain tried to get him back. Soutar remained adamant.”
The Australian Golfer (1908)