4th May 1897
Following a preliminary meeting to test opinion locally, the Club was formally inaugurated on the 4th May 1897. President, Captain and Office Bearers were appointed and a deputation was formed to visit the ground deemed suitable for the course.
Willie Auchterlonie, who in 1893 was the last home-based Scot to have won the Open Championship, had another claim to fame in designing the course at Campsie by laying out the nine holes, remarking, as he pocketed his 5 guinea fee, that the ground was excellent, and had the makings of one of the very best inland 9-hole courses in Scotland!
Map of "OLD 9 HOLE" Course 1899 - Courtesy of K Stoddart
26th June 1897
On Saturday 26th June 1897 the course was officially opened, in beautiful weather and as one of the local highlights of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. A Large gathering of those interested, from all walks of life, watched Miss Ina King of Antermony, daughter of the President, drive off the first ball successfully. The visitors were treated to refreshments in the temporary clubhouse.
24th May 1914
Like all other clubs established prior to 1900, Campsie was affected by the advent of the Haskell ball, which effectively made the old course too short for the technology of the day. Additional ground was obtained the wisdom of having the major local landowners as President and Vice –President paid off. On the 24th May 1914 the 9-hole layout familiar to many of the more mature golfers in the district was duly opened. On this occasion the first ball was driven by W G Peareth Kincaid Lennox of Lennox Castle. Thomas Hodge was lauded as “Father of the Course” having been prime mover of the alterations. It was mentioned that the Alpine climbing had now been done away with. A comment sounding strange to those who complain about the access to the 3rd and 12th tees nowadays. Representatives from Glasgow GC, Balfron GC and Drymen GC were present.
Effects of The Great War
The Great War of 1914-18 created the same degree of havoc in Campsie as elsewhere, and by 1917 the course was largely left to look after itself. However, by 1920 the Club had been revitalised, to such a degree that the number of Lady Members was restricted to 60 in 1921. In that same year, the Club joined the Scottish Golf Union, Fee £1, and the Captain was convenor of the Stirlingshire division of the SGU. In 1936, when the SGU fees increased to £3, the Club withdrew from that organisation, on the grounds of expense.
During the 20's progress was slow, though the purchase of a 5 cwt of Worm Destroyer tells us that nothing much changes. The income from visitors green fees in 1921 was £35.70, and it took a Committee decision to agree to buy a Golfers Handbook for 37p. Horse-trading figured largely in the Club at this time, the practice being to buy in the spring, use the animal during the season and sell in the autumn. In 1928 the sale price was £12, by 1934 all that could be realised was One guinea. In 1928 the first proposal for expansion of the course was mooted, by going back on to Glorat ground which had been abandoned in the changes in 1914. The farmer wouldn’t agree, so the matter was shelved.
In 1932 entry to Medals was 3d, winner getting a ball. Teams for away matches were hard to arrange, and 2 tons of sand was purchased for 25p per to, delivered. In 1934 an attempt was made to buy a second-hand tractor from Balmore, but it was sold by the time an agreement could be reached to make an offer. (Committees don’t change).
In June 1936 the clubhouse and tool-shed were totally destroyed by fire. A new site was gifted by Lennox Estate, and a new clubhouse was opened on the 10th October 1936 and served the Members and visitors nobly until Stirling County Council forced its closure in 1970, when we moved to Balgrochan Farm and steading.
Sunday golf was tried out in 1937, but opinion was against the move. Juniors were reported as being impertinent, not for the first or last time ! In 1939 a bay was engaged to cut the fairways for 50p per week, but by the end of the season we were at war again, and competitions were suspended. During the War the course staggered from one crisis to the next, including the use of 2.5 acres ploughed up for agricultural use. The compensation of £15 for this came in handy in 1950.
In 1946 a similar scenario to 1919 developed, and the continuance of the Club was in doubt. Survival was achieved, by hard effort and financial prudence, against a background of Annual Subs of £2.10, and a policy of taking legal action against fee defaulters. In the early 1950’s a succession of Green-keepers came and went, since it was still a seasonal job, with no guarantee it was a difficult post to fill. By 1954 it was agreed to keep the Green-keeper on during the winter with his wage of £6 per week being offset by the grazing fees of £25 per annum.
The familiar background of burglaries, complaints about divots not replaced, juniors playing irons from greens etc continued. By 1958 fees were £3 with 60 Ordinary members, 8 Ladies and 10 Boys and it was agreed not to close the course for the winter. £30 was paid for a new tractor, and an assistant green-keeper was engaged at £1 per week. The membership stood at 44 Ordinary, 4 Ladies and 13 juniors.
By 1963 the numbers had jumped to a total of 93, though there was still difficulty in getting the Subs in on time, and a Professional, A Robertson, made his appearance, however, briefly. There was a great problem in getting suitable green-keepers, though Sunday Competitions were now included in the calendar. Electricity was laid on to the Clubhouse in 1965, and enquiries were made about getting a Drinks Licence. By 1967, with a membership of 176, overtures were made to acquire Balgrochan Farm and to extend the course to 18 hole, the proposal being turned down by Stirling County Council.
Entry to Balgrochan, the present Clubhouse etc was effected in 1971 with alterations to cost £1400 were put in hand, rapidly stopping for lack of funds.
The course record in 1972 was 67 by I Stirling, still a member to day. He was out in 30, back in 37 and was playing with WR Marshall at the time. Inter Club matches were played with Aberfoyle, Knightswood, Drymen and Calderbraes.
Complaints of the course being congested with visitors at weekends and non-payment of green fees came up regularly, and Members were allowed 10% of fees they personally collected. Extra land was acquired in 1973, allowing the layout of the present 9th 10th and 11th holes, though the Treasurer, J Hay, reported that things were going to be tight. This year also saw the first complaint about J McBride’s language ! Not surprisingly, this item cropped up at regular intervals. In 1976 there was such congestion on Medal days that a starting time sheet was introduced. The course was in such condition that a formal suggestion came before the committee to erect an effigy of the Greens Convenor, so that the Members could throw stones at it.
Formal Opening of 18-Hole Course
A 25 year lease with the landlords, Caledonian Estates, having been arranged, the 1980s were entered in high hopes of extending to 18 holes, and despite the drawbacks of contractors going into liquidation, and the lowest tender having to be accepted, the 18 hole course formally opened in 1982. Since then, apart from an alteration in the order of play of the holes, a new first green and altered tee at the 12th the order of the day has been steady improvement of what we have. Stephen Bache, who arrived as head Green Keeper in 1988, has skilfully directed his staff in continual upgrading of the condition of the course, and we are poised to take the next step in extending the area in play into the ground above the 11th hole. A study is being carried out on the Club’s behalf, and a report is expected shortly.
We may yet fulfil Willie Auchterlonie’s prophesy, that, at Campsie, we may have one of the finest inland courses in Scotland. Not a bad game plan !
Scots author, radio and TV personality Cliff Hanley cut the tape to perform the official opening ceremony of Campsie Golf Club's newly extended 18-hole course.
Looking on were members of the club committee and players.
It was a big day for the Club and they celebrated it in a big way too by playing host to the Annual Stars for Spastics Golf Tournament.
This event is always contested by a long string of sporting and show business celebrities.
Jim Stevenson : David MacRae : Alex McNaughton : George Marshall : Alistair Weir : Johnny Robertson : John Murray : Danny Wilmoth : Cliff Hanley : Donny Stirling : John Tolman & Willie Skilling.
Campsie trophy winners
Every winner of a trophy pictured together in 1985.
Trophy Winners 1985 - Courtesy of James Cowan
I McAffer : H Coyle : A Campbell : J Coyle : J Cowan : G Whiteside : T McCann : G Cruickshank : "UNKNOWN"
A Allen : N McCulloch : Diane MacRae : Mrs Neill McCulloch : Janet Fairweather : G Kerr & J Hope.
Thompson McCrone winners
Thompson McCrone trophy winners pictured together in 1987.
Thompson McCrone Winners 1987 - Courtesy of James Cowan
A Campbell : N Darroch : J Cowan : J Fergus : "UNKNOWN" : J Donaldson : G Cruickshank : E Rose : G Kerr : W McNab
B Hunter : A Gallacher : M Hill : D Barbour : D MacRae : S McNab : A Harrison & J Stevenson.
History in the making
David Barbour provided an extensive piece on the history of Campsie Golf Club, with the very same content being used on this page.
David Barbour on the 3rd Fairway in 1997
David Barbour on the 3rd Green in 1997