Helensburgh Golf Club was founded in August 1893 and the original 9 hole layout was in use by October of the same year. One can only wonder about the quality of the greens at that time. The layout was approved by Old Tom Morris for a fee of £1 plus expenses for the day. By 1905, the course had been extended to 18 holes, largely due to the guidance of the club professional, Tom Turnbull, who served the club for 50 years.
From the beginning, Helensburgh has been a family club, with a predominantly town membership and the members are drawn from all walks of life. The original Tin hut clubhouse(above), which cost about £350 and had been relocated at least once, was sold to the Vale of Leven Golf Club for £35 in 1910.
The present clubhouse was opened in October 1909, by the Duke of Argyll. Major alterations took place in 1965, 1973 and 1997. A recent proposal to build a new clubhouse was shelved but new proposals are brewing .
The founding committee included Andrew Bonar Law, who became Prime Minister in 1922 and a local dignitary, Alexander Breingan, who was the first captain. The Breingan Medal, presented in 1894, is the club’s oldest trophy.
The 1920s were a memorable decade, with the visit to the course of James Braid, who devised many changes some of which are still in place today.
The Club Championship was inaugurated and the officers of HMS Hood presented a fine trophy.
Purchase of the course and additional ground took place in 1978. The extra ground remains unused, except for essential maintenance but hopes remain of an extended course one day.
The length of the course is 6104 yards, with a par of 69 and the Standard Scratch Score is 70. The course record of 62 was set by club Junior member Simon Barras (age 16), on 3rd July 2005, beating the previous 64 of member Alan Scott, 20 years earlier in June 1985.
The Helensburgh Boys’ Open Tournament, inaugurated in 1975 (not 1976 as stated in our centenary book), quickly became an important part of the Scottish Junior scene.
Many Scottish professionals under the age of 40 have played in this tournament.
Certain players must be singled out, having brought the name of Helensburgh to the fore. J Morton Dykes was a Walker Cup player, Scottish Amateur Champion and Internationalist, a career interrupted by World War Two.
Colin Dalgleish has matched these achievements and more, with individual successes in India (Amateur), Australia (Lake Macquarie International Open), Belgium (Youths) and the USA (East Aurora Junior Masters and Northern Intercollegiate). He has also represented Scotland and Great Britain & Ireland in Europe, won the Prince of Wales Trophy and the Tenant Cup twice.
From 1993 to 1996, Colin was the Captain of the Scottish Amateur Golf Team and between 2006 and 2009 he has been the Captain of the Walker Cup Team. He became the inaugural recipient of the Special Achievement Award presented by the Golf Tourism Golf Standards Awards in the Autumn of 2009.
Members are proud of the achievements of Gary Orr, who turned pro in 1988, as an assistant at Burhill in Surrey. He obtained his European Tour card in 1992, after failing in 1990 and 1991. Rookie of the Year in 1993, Gary struggled to fulfil that rich early promise until 1998 and 1999, when his name featured strongly on several leader boards. In 1998 Gary qualified for the Scottish Dunhill Cup Team and tied 2nd in the Volvo PGA at Wentworth behind Colin Montgomery. 1999 proved to be a very consistent season and he again qualified for the Dunhill Cup Team. He was just beaten into 2nd place in the Dutch Open by Lee Westwood who shot 63 in the last round. After an excellent start to 2000, tying 2nd in South Africa and 8th in Australia, he won his first event, the Portuguese Open, with an eagle at the 72nd hole.
To keep up-to-date with Gary’s career on the European Tour visit the tours web site. www.europeantour.com