Two Scottish golf societies age by 100 years
Earlsferry Golf Society and Fortrose Golf Society are 100 years older than they thought
Last month, in the space of 40 minutes, two previously unknown newspaper notices for Earlsferry Golf Society in 1787 and Fortrose Golf Society in 1793 were discovered.
They were found in one search of the British Newspaper Archive at the National Library of Scotland in the Caledonian Mercury which published three times a week from 1720 to 1867. They bring to 18 the number of golf clubs which have a continuous or non-continuous history dating back to the 18th century.
However, not only are these two clubs now among the oldest, but their courses probably are as well. Virtually all the oldest golf clubs moved from their original golfing grounds because of congestion or to be able to create 18-hole courses in mid/late 19th century.
Earlsferry Golf Society
The announcement for Earlsferry Golf Society appeared on 26th April 1787 calling all the members to a dinner on Tuesday 1st May 1787.
Earlsferry is today better known as Elie and it is one of only three golf courses still played which goes back to 18th century or even the 16th century (the other two being the old courses at St Andrews and Musselburgh). The existence of the Earlsferry Golf Society means that formal golf club activity there also goes back to 1787 at least. This find has enabled a fuller history of the club to be written.
Fortrose Golf Society
The Fortrose Golf Society citation is a notice of the 'general annual meeting' to be held at Williamson's Tavern with dinner at 4pm on Wednesday 3rd July 1793. It is not new news that golf was played at Fortrose at this time but this date is 95 years before the Fortrose and Rosemarkie Golf Club was instituted.
More importantly it makes it more probable that the area of play on Chanonry Ness at Fortrose extended to where today’s golfers play, over the caravan park and possibly the 6th, 7th, 8th and part of 9th holes. If so that could put Fortrose in a select group of courses played before 1800.
The location of Williamson’s Tavern has yet to be established and any intelligence would be much appreciated.
It was always likely that there were more old golf clubs to be re-discovered and with newly digitised newspapers and other historical material, more finds were to be expected. What was totally unexpected was that two would be found in such a short space of time, both in the same search from one newspaper, the Caledonian Mercury.
More details of the other 18 x 18th century golf clubs are given here.http://www.scottishgolfhistory.org/news/eighteen-18th-golf-clubs/
11 September 2015 Respond to this article