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17 October 2014

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Golf

Foundation of world's first golf club 1744

Mary, Queen of Scots with Lord Darnley

© SCRAN

The exact origins of golf have long been argued over, with dispute as to where the game began and what form it took in the early days. A version of the game is thought to have been played as far back as Roman times and there is evidence to show that the game was outlawed by James II, who was concerned that it interfered with archery practice. In later years Mary Queen of Scots is known to have been a keen exponent of the game.

A form of golf was also played in Holland in the 1600s. Therefore it is perhaps not unnatural that Leith, then the main trading port with the Low Countries, should become one of the most popular places for the game to be played.

In the first half of the eighteenth century golf was still an unregulated pastime with no universal rules and local variances around the country. That was soon to change.

Despite the many claims as to golf's origins, it is generally accepted that the first properly organised Golf Club was founded in Scotland in 1744, when the”Gentlemen Golfers of Edinburgh” was formed in Edinburgh.

Even that is not without some controversy as another Edinburgh club, The Royal Burgess Golfing Society, claims to have been in existence in 1735.

Leith Links

© SCRAN

However, in the absence of any documentary evidence, and with the RBGS records only dating from 1773, the honour of being the oldest club is given to the Gentlemen Golfers of Edinburgh .The name was later changed for legal reasons and in 1800 they became “The Honourable the Edinburgh Company of Golfers” later abbreviated to the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers.

The original home was in Leith, where the club played over the five hole course on Leith Links that remained their base for nearly a century.

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