Learn about the history,the people, past and present.
This feature will profile individuals, associations, clubs and other bodies who have been/are/will be connected with or involved in the Club in its proud history/present existence/future development. Where better to start than to turn our spotlight on those individuals who have applied their skills, their vision and their professional experience and expertise in creating, extending, improving, and developing our greatest single asset – our Golf Course? Where else to start but the beginning 120 years ago when the Club was no more than a conceptual vision by a small group of community minded and enterprising gentlemen which was the beginning of our great Club? And in the beginning there was Tom Morris (“Old Tom” to avoid confusion with his son who became one of the all great golfers before his tragic death at the age of 24) then one of the world’s top pioneers in Golf Club architecture who endorsed the suggested layout for a nine hole course. Tom’s design remained the basis and to meet an increased demand the course was extended slowly to one of eighteen holes by 1905. The original and extended design remained in play until 1923 when the Committee of the day turned for advice and assistance to James Braid, five times Open Champion, an outstanding Golfer who had gained a reputation as a top Architect in designing new courses and improving existing courses in light of new developing techniques. His brief was to inspect, report on the existing course and, recommend improvements thereto. His Report was comprehensive with much of it adopted by the Club, forming the basis of improvements in the subsequent years. By and large, that formed the foundation for the course as it is today. A Granddaughter of James Braid who still lives in Cardross kindly made available a photograph of her Grandfather for inclusion in the Club Centenary Book so brilliantly conceived and sympathetically created by its authors Jim Stark and the late, great Douglas B Lowe, the Golf Writer in the Herald who sadly passed away in 2010 (to be continued)
One further architect has to be included although, hitherto his contribution, although invaluable, has been conceptual only and no play has yet happened on the section of the course in which he was involved. At the time in 1977 when the same Jim Stark with two other members of the Committee were in talks under a veil of secrecy without which the successful outcome would not have been achieved, and which ultimately concluded in the purchase by the Club from Luss Estates of the existing course, the sellers had agreed to sell not only the 110 acres which then (and still does) contain the 18 holes to include for future development, but also an additional area of 60 acres adjoining the existing course and to be selected by the Club. Conscious of the involvement with the two top Golf Architects of their day in Tom Morris and James Braid the prospective purchasers sought and obtained the services of Donald Steel, a former English International Player and distinguished Golf Writer and then and for many years thereafter the pre-eminent Architect throughout Europe. His brief was to visit, report and recommend in terms of terrain and future layout the plot of additional ground which should be included in the total purchase. On a miserable, damp and slightly foggy day in the middle of December 1977 Donald paid a flying visit to the Club and in consultation with top Agronomist, Jim Arthur, retained by the Royal and Ancient Club and by Helensburgh Golf Club, advised the area to be purchased and which was included in the ground, acquired by the Club on 28th February 1978. Donald Steel at that time produced an indicative layout which is still held by the Club but has not yet been implemented. It remains an integral and important part of a major development plan for the future.