Early Years of Galashiels Golf Clubs
Elizabeth M C Sanderson
4 October 1972
The origins of the game of golf are lost in antiquity, although historians now admit that it probably originated in Scotland and that, without a doubt, the Scots developed it into the game as it is played today.
The name derives from the Dutch word “Kolf” meaning a club but the Dutch people played their club and ball game on ice, aiming a stake. The French too had a similar game “Pall Mall” which they played on turf, driving the ball through an iron hoop as in croquet. The Scots can, therefore, with confidence, claim to have invented the holes and have been avidly playing them ever since. Emigrant Scots took the game first to England in the reign of their King James VI and I (himself an ardent player like all the Stewart Kings) and thereafter throughout the British Empire and the entire world.
Golf clubs began to be formed in the 18th century of which the Royal and Ancient of St Andrews is the oldest surviving and, because of its long traditions and many famous and royal members, is acknowledged as the governing club of the game in all countries except for the USA.
Despite ever increasing sums of prize money won by professional golfers nowadays golf has remained the people’s game in Scotland and by the end of the 19th century most Scottish towns were forming their own amateur golf clubs.
The first “Galashiels Golf Club” at Ladhope
The first golf club in Galashiels was founded in 1885 when Mr Brunton, the then proprietor of Ladhope estate, offered some of his fields rent free for a nine hole course to be laid out. The originator of this scheme was Mr William Dunlop, sometime headmaster of Glendinning Terrace School and later of Roxburgh Street School. He remained Captain, Secretary and Treasurer of the club for several years. The course was close to the town, round Appletreeleaves House and up the side of the Ladhope Burn. Mr Brunton allowed the club to use one of his outhouses as a club room and an entrance by one of his private gates. He also allowed the players to take their caddies with them.
A maximum of 148 players joined the club each paying 5s entry money and 5s per annum subscription. The following list of Captains may be of interest:-
1885-88 Mr Wm Dunlop
1888-89 Mr John Wm Brown
1889-90 Mr James Brown (Ashwood)
1891-92 Mr J M Barclay
1892-93 Dr Wm Doig MD
1893-94 Mr A T Dalgleish
1894-95 Mr Walter Shaw
1895-96 Mr John Kerr
1896-97 Mr A D Robson
1885-91 Mr William Dunlop
1891-97 Mr A D Robson
Unfortunately the course, being grassland, became so overgrown in summer , due to the tenant farmers requirements for grazing, that it became unplayable and this greatly hampered the club’s prosperity.
Torwoodlee Golf Club
Towards the end of the summer of 1895 Captain Pringle of Torwoodlee therefore offered the Galashiels Golf Club Torwoodlee Haugh extending over 37 acres of his property to be converted into a nine hole golf course along with the use of a cottage as a club house and timber sufficient to erect a footbridge over the Gala. Moreover he agreed to allow the club to let the ground to any farmer for grazing in order to keep it playable so far as possible. Inevitably there would, however, be periods when play would be difficult as at Ladhope. Unfortunately, also, this offer was for only two years as Captain Pringle would not commit himself to promising the lease of the land at the end of that period. Galashiels Golf Club therefore declined the offer but a dissenting minority of members then decided to approach Captain Pringle and agree to his offer if it were renewed to them. They further persuaded Captain Pringle to grant them a lease of the land on most favourable terms and so Torwoodlee Golf Club was founded on 16 September 1895.
A sub-committee consisting of Dr Doig, D McLagan and Robert Thripland were appointed to carry out the preliminary arrangements including the laying out of the course. Mr Gibson, farmer at Torwoodlee (and brother of Mr George Gibson of Lintmailing) very kindly offered to cut the grass gratuitously. On 2 October 1895 the first office bearers were appointed :
Hon President – Captain Pringle of Torwoodlee
President – Provost James Dickson
Vice President – Dr W H Murray M D
Captain – Dr Wm Doig M D
Hon Secretary and Treasurer – Mr John H Peebles
Committee – Messrs W Sorley brown, D McLagan, Henry Riddle, Robert D Somerville and Robert Thripland
Lady President – Mrs H S Murray
The number of the members at that date was 130. Subscriptions were fixed at £1 1s for gentlemen and 7s 6d for ladies and boys under 17.
Willie Park Jr of Musselburgh was engaged to examine the course and report. Mr Parks report was most favourable. Among other comments he wrote “even if the club were to relay the greens with the best imported turf, they could not make better greens than may be made from the turn existing…. The lie of the land is admirable and the natural hazards exceedingly good. Any golf club situated in a populous town is exceedingly fortunate in having presented to them the opportunity of acquiring a course which, in a short time and at comparatively small cost, may be made one of the best inland courses in Scotland”. He also said that it was very suitable for ladies.
The course was formally opened on 30 October 1895 by Mrs Pringle who had been presented with a cleek with which she drove the first ball. Provost Dickson, President of the Club, welcomed “a large and representative company in spite of the inclemency of the weather” as the newspaper reported noted.
From the long list of those present may be quoted, Captain Pringle, Mr Pringle Jr, Mr John Scott of Gala, Mr Ramsay of Bowland, Bailies Dun and Lindsay, Councillor Riddle, The Rev Dr David Hunter, Parish Minister and other ministers such as the Rev W Matheson of St John’s United Free Church, Mr McIntosh, Sheriff Clerk of Selkirkshire, Mr Hugh Roberts (of whom more later), Mrs H S Murray, Lady President, Mrs A Fairgrieve, Mrs Archibald Cochrane of Abbotshill and the Misses Cochrane, Mrs Brown of Galahill and the Misses brown. All well-known names to many of you I am sure.
A new footbridge had been placed over the river above Buckholm Tunnel and a footway laid from the bridge up the Edinburgh Road.
On 15 May 1896 an exhibition game was played over the new course by Willie Park Jr, Musselburgh and Ben Sayers, North Berwick, the weather on that occasion being “warm and slightly debilitating”. The scores were then Sayers 36 and 40, Park 3 and 36, but it must be remembered that the course was not then as it is now and the ball was the old “guttie” (gutta percha) ball. In the evening of that day a foursome was played over nine holes by Mrs H S Murray and Ben Sayers against Mrs George Gibson of Lintmailing and W Park. Mrs Gibson and Mr Park won by one hole although the scores were equal, both 42. Both the visitors said the ladies had played excellently.
In 1897 the club acquired the Dumfermline Golf Club’s club house for the sum of £70. It was of corrugated iron and wood, painted red and yellow and when, after a long debate over the siting, it was erected on a high piece of ground in a frame of trees, it looked most attractive. There was no water supply at the site so permission was obtained from the Captain to have water piped under the railway from a pond in front of Torwoodlee House. Drinking water had to be carried from a well at the ruins of the old mill in the middle of the course.
The next important step was the appointment of a green keeper. There were two applications for the job but as Mr R P Adam pertinently remarked “why go the Himalayas when you have one on your doorstep” and so Mr Alexander Crombie, golf club maker with a shop in Bank Street, was appointed at £40 per year and a free house. This remark of Mr Adam’s showed how Mr Crombie had already gained the respect and confidence of his fellow townsmen and his ability to fill the post as professional and green keeper alike never in doubt.
Mr Crombie had his club making training with Messrs Anderson and Sons, Princes Street, Edinburgh and with J & D Clark, wholesale export golf club makers, Musselburgh. He then went to Hoylake where he made a set of clubs which won quite a big competition at an exhibition in London. He married and had three children and he remained at Torwoodlee to the great benefit of its members for 41 years.
In the days when Mr Crombie was trained club making was a fine art and required a very fine degree of skilled craftsmanship. The maximum number of clubs allowed is 14 (usually 4 wooden headed clubs and 10 irons) but ordinary players seldom carry anything like that number. In Mr Crombie’s time each club had still its own distinctive name such as driver, brassie, baffie or spoon, cleek, iron, jigger, mashie, niblic and putter. How romantic and nostalgic they sound compared to the prosaic numbering of todays 1 to 4 woods and irons 1 to putter in descending order.
At one time the shafts were all made of hickory wood from North America. Now they are made of steel, hollow and tapered. The wooden heads were all mostly of beech but occasionally of dog wood or persimmon and all these North American woods were bought by the manufacturers as standing timber. The wooden heads were completely fashioned by hand. A flat piece of wood about 4 inches wide and 2 inches deep to shape the heads of the clubs that were to be spliced to the shafts. Another type of head was roughly shaped when it was delivered to him and these, of course, took much less time to complete. When they heads and the shaft splices fitted perfectly they were stuck together with glue and later tightly bound with pitch thread. Then the heads had to be sand-papered to a beautiful smooth surface and varnished to a lovely finish. The craftsman had also to ensure the perfect balance of shaft and club. Now that the shafts are of steel, all is done by machinery so that all this fine workmanship of an old and skilled craft is no more. Except that I fancy there must still be some well-hoarded Crombie clubs which have descended in Border families to this day.
Another very important and happy event of 1897 was that on the 3rd the Galashiels Golf Club at Ladhope held a Special General Meeting at which it was decided that the club should hand over its assets (money, medals etc) to Towrwoodlee Golf Club so that all the golfers in Galashiels were happily reunited. On 11 May 1898 the new club house was formally opened by Mr Pringle, the Hon. Lady President, who was presented with a silver key as a momento of the occasion.
Aerated waters were now available at the club house. Members helped themselves and paid by putting the coins through a slot in the side of a locker. These dropped into a locked money box inside the locker. The house ranger was responsible for the checking of this money and for all arrangements connected with the club house.
It was arranged to have caddies available but the next mention of the caddies in the Minutes is in relation to the theft of the aerated waters to which the boys admitted. They had their caddie badges confiscated. New badges were issued in 1914 the caddies being charged 1s 6d each, to be refunded when the badges were given up. Pilfering of golf balls from lockers was reported in the Minutes of 1899 but it was agreed that nothing could be done about it.
Golf balls too have changed over the years. Originally of wood they developed into leather, stuffed with feathers, and finally into the gutta percha (guttie) balls already mentioned and now rubber-cored. American balls are slightly larger than our standard size but are allowed increasingly on certain occasions.
Despite all that had been achieved by the Torwoodlee Club in only a few years, the raising of money remained a perpetual source of worry to the Committee and various loans had to be arranged. Letting the course for grazing sheep was one source of revenue, however, and the rents fluctuated between £30 and £40 per annum. The farmers concerned were Mr Lees (later Mr Barr) of Buckholm and Mr Kidd of Lowood.
On 26th December 1898 a heavy flood carried away the access bridge over the Gala and after a long discussion it was decided to build a girder bridge considerably further up the river. This bridge remained in use, with only minor repairs, for fully 50 years.
A new bicycle shed with stances for 50 bicycles was also erected at a cost of £37. This stood at the top of the pathway to the new bridge just off the Edinburgh Road but it was not until 1914 that a motor enclosure was made at the back of the bicycle shed. This was indeed progress into the 20th century.
Also in 1899 it was agreed to purchase from the Galashiels Cricket Club a set of lawn boots for the horse which pulled the cutting machine used on the fairways. Such things are unheard of in this mechanical age but were then in common use. They were made of very heavy leather, rounded to fit over the horse’s hooves and prevent them from making deep impressions in the grass.
It is interesting to note, again in the club Minutes, that in 1900 the course was rolled for 1s per hour and that the quotation by a local contractor for cutting the course was 10d per hour for 10 hours a day for a man and a horse. Some of you may recall how, much later, it was Dave Neil, a well-known local character, who performed this service and with great devotion looked after the white horse, “Peter”, which was blind in one eye and was stabled in the Torwoodlee stables, though it may have belonged to the club.
Cattle were never officially grazed on the course but sometimes strayed from the field further up the river or from the field below known as the Rye Haugh. They came up the river itself, despite barbed fencing and when this happened all available golfers rushed to chase them away as they, of course, had not lawn boots!
In 1906 a telephone was installed for the use of the members, in the greenkeepers house and in 1908 the house was enlarged by adding a porch and stairway and two more rooms built over the existing two.
In 1901 the Torwoodlee club had expressed considerable dis-satisfaction with the Borders Golfers Association’s system of handicapping and the Association accepted the Torwoodlee suggestions for amendment. Handicapping for men is now the responsibility of the Scottish Golf Union and the ladies the Ladies Golf Union.
On 25th September 1901 an exhibition match by James Braid and Harry Vardon was arranged at a fee of £7.10s each and expenses. Gate money for visitors was fixed at 1s.
The club applied for registration under the Licensing (Scotland) Act in 1903. Members kept supplies of whiskey in their own lockers but it was not sold on the premises.
As a meeting on 18th October 1911 the question of extending the course to 18 holes was raised. As, however, the tenant of the fields requited was not disposed to give them up, there was no immediate prospect of this extension, nor has it been possible to extend it since.
In March 1915, after the outbreak of the Great War, the courtesy of the course and club house was offered to the officers of the 2/4 Reserve Battalion of the K.O.S.B then quartered in the town. On 21st October that same year it was intimated that 30 members of the club had joined H.M. Forces, 3 of whom had fallen in battle and 2 were reported missing.
In March 1916 it was agreed that no competitions should be held that season.
In 1919, when the war had ended, a very handsome panel was presented to the club which recorded the names of all the Captains and Winners up to date. This panel was donated by Mr C F Sanderson at a special meeting and was accepted on behalf of the club by the then Captain Mr W Rae brown, Ex Bailie Lindsay on behalf of the former Captains and Mr W Addison on behalf of the Cup Winners all of whose names were inscribed on the panel, also thanked Mr C P Sanderson for this very generous gift, which was hung in the general room of the club house and was much appreciated.
The following is a list of the trophies which were then played for at Torwoodlee :-
The James Dickson Cup – presented by James Dickson, Provost of Galashiels in 1895 and still played for.
The Pringle Medal – presented by Mrs Pringle of Torwoodlee
The Barclay Medal – presented by J M Barclay during his Captaincy , 1891-1892
The Scratch Cup – presented by Adam Brown in 1902
The Pringle Cup – presented by Mr Pringle in 1907
The Pringle Cup – presented by Captain J L Pringle of Torwoodlee in 1908
The first winner of this last named cup was Mr C P Sanderson donor of the inscribed panel. When, after tying with Mr John Given in the final, he won the re-played tie by only one hole.
In 1931 the original Torwoodlee club house was judged to be hopelessly out of date and was therefore replaced. The new house stood on a slightly lower level but still commanded an excellent view of the course, with Meigle Hill as its background. The house had rough cast walls and a very attractive brown tiled roof. It was much larger than its predecessor and in comparison was fitted with a luxurious assortment of “modern conveniences” such as hot rails inside the lockers for drying purposes, as well as hot and cold running water in the changing rooms. The wonderful inexhaustible well still supplied this initially, though it was not pumped by a petrol engine in a storage tank in the roof, which also supplied the needs of Mr Crombie and his family in the adjoining green-keepers house. It too was enlarged by the addition of a bathroom and scullery also with chromium taps, the latest touch of modernity.
In addition to a general room the club house had a show room which contained all manner of golfing requisites and a workshop adjoining. The architects were Messrs J & J Hall and the contractors were Messrs Robert Hall & Co (builders and joiners), Messrs J G Lindsay (painters), Messrs John Park & Son (plumbers) and Messrs L McLaren & Sons (slaters).
The formal opening took place the following spring at a social meeting which was largely attended. The old club house was eventually sold to a small holder for £10 as a shelter for hens and animals.
On 27th September 1938 a large gathering of members and ex-members of the club met to honour Mr Crombie on the occasion of his retirement after 41 years as professional and green-keeper. Besides the current Captain, Councillor J MacPherson Brown, there were 16 ex-Captains present but unfortunately Provost Mercer and Captain Pringle were among the few who were obliged to send their apologies for absence.
Paying tribute to Mr Crombie, the Captain recalled how in all those 41 years he had devoted himself wholly to the keeping and improving of the course so that they now had one of the best courses in the Borders and also one of the most beautifully situated. He also recalled how Mrs Crombie had assisted her husband in attending to the wants of all who visited the clubhouse and how both Mr and Mrs Crombie were held in high esteem by all. Today there are still ex-caddies who recall with relish the “pieces” of bread and home -made jam with which Mrs Crombie refreshed them at the end of their round.
Mrs Murray of Glenmayne, President of the Ladies Club, also spoke amusingly and reminiscently of the clubs early years and expressed the regret of all members of the retirement of Mr and Mrs Crombie and wished them long life and happiness in their retirement.
Then amid loud applause the Captain presented Mr Crombie with a cheque for the amount subscribed by members. Mr Crombie replied in delightfully characteristic little speech of thanks to which he added “that a though the cheque might not last forever, the kinds words and appreciation would never be forgotten”.
It is good to know that Mr Crombie had ten happy years of retirement at “Torwood”, the house he built within sight of Torwoodlee. As he had been unanimously elected a life member of the club, he enjoyed a round of golf almost every day with his daughter or an old friend. We are very glad to have Miss Crombie with us here tonight.
Today the club has a membership of 200 gentlemen, 65 ladies, 40 boys and girls and 22 country members. Club trophies now competed for are as follows :-
Scratch Cup – 36 hole qualifying 8 best scores go into knockout Club Champion
Dickson Cup – Best 2 scores from spring, summer and autumn competitions
Pringle Medal – Runner up in the Dickson Cup
Reiver Trophy – Winner Handicap Knockout Competition played throughout the season
J C Hall Memorial Trophy – Stroke Competition
Monthly Medal Shield – Medal finalists only, compete at the end of the season
Pringle Cleek – Club Champion
Victory Trophy – Handicap Knockout Competition played throughout the season
Murray Rose Bowl – Best two scores from three Rose Bowl Competitions
Mixed Foursomes – Two ball handicap played throughout the season
The second Galashiels Golf Club at Ladhope
Turning now to the formation of another golf club at Ladhope, this time a municipal one, we must go back to 1912, in which year the matter was first raised in the Town Council.
At the Council meeting on 8 November 1912 it was intimated that Mr Hugh Roberts, the then proprietor of Ladhope estate, was prepared to grant a lease in favour of the Council for a term of 999 years from Whitsunday term, at a nominal rent of 5s per annum, for certain portions of land at Ladhope, extending in all to about 451/2 acres. The Council unanimously agreed to accept Mr Roberts’ generous offer and convey their thanks to him for his generosity.
The prime movers of this project and the first to approach Mr Roberts were two very enthusiastic golfers in the town, Mr Harry Kemp and Mr Ernest Cameron. Mr Cameron was a textile designer in Botany Mill who emigrated to Australia the following year but returned to fight with the Australian Forces in the 1914 war. He fell in battle in France in 1917 and his name is inscribed on the Galashiels War Memorial.
The Town Council did not take over the land at Ladhope until Whitsunday 1913. On 12 March 1912 a public meeting was held when a Committee of seven was appointed to ascertain whether the people of Galashiels really wanted another golf course. On 27 June the Committee submitted their report to another public meeting and this was received with such cordial approval and support that it was decided to proceed with the formation of another golf club. The same Committee was empowered to secure the five fields at Ladhope, arrange with the tenants and appoint a green-keeper. At first only three fields nearest the mansion house were laid out in nine short holes (remains of the old trees there can still be seen). These were the days of the old “guttie” ball which could only be driven a short distance. Indeed, many of these early holes could be reached now with a number 7 or 8 iron.
The first green-keeper was Mr Jimmy Robertson who had served his apprenticeship on the Braid Hills Course. He occupied the house at Appletreeleaves which had previously been rented to a Mr MacKenzie who had carried on a nursery garden there. The grazing rights of the other tenants had also to be arranged. Among these tenants was Mr Wilkie who, though he lived in Gattonside, had a bakers business in Island Street (Now Dalgetty’s) and also owned a number of horses and ponies which he grazed at Ladhope. In consequence, his son must have been the only pupil in the long history of Galashiels Academy who came to school on horseback. Other tenants were Andrew Hislop who had a dairy herd with byres at 1 Ladhope Bank and also, as some of you may recall, sold milk from a cart round the town; also Mr Wood, the farmer at Langlee Mains and Mr Barr of Buckholm Farm. The highest stretch of the present golf course consisted of rough hill pasture from which a succession of people who rented it cannot have received much in return.
A further point which the Committee had to consider was whether members of the club might be permitted to walk across the course on Sundays. This was allowed but all agreed that no golf might be played on that day.
Just before the signing of the lease, Mr Roberts suggested that instead of the club erecting a pavilion which could also permanently house the green-keeper, Appletreeleaves House might also be included in the least for use as a club house. The Committee accordingly inspected the house but decided it unsuitable for that purpose. They therefore proceeded with their plan to build a pavilion. This was a very simple building with a corrugated iron roof, very different from the present up to date club house.
With a membership of 133 already and all the necessary plant bought, the Committee was hopeful of having all completed within a very short time when, without any warning, Mr Roberts most generously announced that he wished to donate to the Burgh of Galashiels all the ground occupied by the golf course as well as the two others field (in all 50 acres) and also Appletreeleaves House.
This magnificent gift was, of course, accepted by the Town Council with public expressions of appreciation. All responsibility for the golf course was therefore transferred from the Committee to the Corporation and Galashiels Golf Club finished its first year, it was proudly announced, “with all its undertakings completed and owning no man anything”.
Mr Hugh Roberts who had thus aligned himself with the ranks of public benefactors to whom Galashiels owes so much, was the grandson of William Roberts who, in 1853, built Victoria Mill on the south bank of the river Gala near the railway station. He had given the mill that name because he had procured the site in the year when Queen Victoria ascended the throne. In 1857 William Roberts died and was succeeded by his four sons, John, Hugh, William and Henry. Later Henry became the sole proprietor. After his death in 1891, the works were acquired by his two nephews, William H and Hugh, sones of Hugh senior. They carried on at Victoria, Waulkmillhead and Bristol Spinning mills under the name of William Roberts & Co. In June 1905, Victoria Mill was burnt down and the old technical college was built on the site. At this point both William H and Hugh Roberts retired from business. It was probably soon after this that Hugh Roberts bought Ladhope estate. The original Roberts home was in Sime Place where Dr Adam now lives.
On 12 January 1914 the Council Minutes refer to a strong desire throughout the town that an 18 hole course should be laid out and that Mr Roberts was disposed to let the additional fields for a period of 20 years at a rental of £90 per annum. The offer was accepted subject to the adjustment of details and it was resolved that a temporary course of 18 holes be formed pending the making of a permanent course.
In the Minutes of meeting held on 9 March 1914 it is stated that the temporary 18 hole course was opened for play on 21 February but there is unfortunately no reference in the Minutes as to when the permanent course was completed. Provost Sutherland was still Provost in the Burgh in 1914.
In the Clubs own Minutes for 1912 and 1913 the resolutions are noted that the club be named Galashiels Golf Club and that the membership fee be fixed at one shilling and that the Annual General Meeting should be held on the third Friday of September.
On 17 October 1913 rules and prizes for the autumn competitions were fixed by the Committee. A number of local bye-laws were also drawn up and passed. As, for example, “a ball lying in cart tracks, in rabbit scrapes or in a hole, so that the club may be lifted and dropped without penalty. N B Every player is expected to know and comply with the Rules of Golf. Attention is drawn to the Rules of Etiquette on the notice board”.
At the end of 1913 Sir John Barran, Liberal MP for the Border Burghs 1909-1918, had intimated to the Committee that he would like to donate a cup to the club to be played for in competition. He left the conditions to the Committee to decide but would like these to be such as to “enable any player to compete if desired”.
So on 25 December the Committee agreed that the Sir John Barran Cup competition should be played on 9 May next, that it should be a stroke one on handicap lines and on the knock out principal; the winner to received 2/3rd entry money in kind, with the cup and the runner up to receive 1/3rd entry money in kind.
Matches with other clubs were also played that year as the Galashiels Golf Club had on its initiation applied for membership of the Border Golfers’ Association.
As at Torwoodlee however the outbreak of the Great War in August 1914 soon affected the clubs membership, the decrease being sadly noted in the Secretary’s report of 1914-15.
In 1919 after the war ended Mr Roberts donated to the club the additional fields in the lower part of the present course and also the extensive hill pasture land. The whole complex was at first named “Galashiels Recreation Ground” but because of the unsuitable contours of the land for other sports the idea was never developed so it remains purely as a golf course.
The present course was laid out by James Braid, the professional from Walton Heath. Mr Bob Hood was the new green-keeper and like his predecessor came from the Braid Hills Club. He had one assistant who was seconded from the Burgh Surveyor’s office from April to September and was permanently employed in cutting fairways using a horse-drawn mower. This horse, like his fellow at Torwoodlee, was equipped with lawn boots which still hang in the workshop of the club. Mr Hood, in addition to his other duties, continued to cut the 18 greens and tees twice a week even though this meant pushing a hand mower up the steep incline from the clubhouse to the farthest green on the highest part of the course.
The new course did not receive the publicity it deserved until the Open Tournament was held there on 20th and 21st May 1920. This was sponsored by the merchants of Galashiels and the total prize money offered was about £300. Small as this seems by modern standards the tournament attracted an international field of professional players. James Braid carried off the highest honours with a score of 298 for four rounds, one of which he played in 70 strokes, the lower then on record for the club. Even so, these scores would not be good enough to qualify for a major tournament today. He received £70 and the runner up Harry Varden, £50. The prized were presented by Provost Dalgleish. In his reply Mr Braid said that there had been a certain amount of criticism of the course but that the view from the higher reaches more than compensated for the stiff climb. Mr Peter Whyte, President of the club and Poor Law Officer for the district, was thanked for the tremendous amount of work involved in running the tournament. The admission fee for the public was 2s 6d daily but regrettably it was found that many of the spectators must have avoided payment.
Other famous names among the players recalled to have been there are J H Taylor, Ted Ray, George Duncan, Sandy Heard, Abe Mitchell and also at least one well known Frenchman, Arnaud Massay, and A De La Torre a noted Spanish player. Mr Hugh Roberts was among the spectators, it is pleasant to record, for it must surely have made him very happy to see the fruits of his benefaction in this fine tournament.
Chief Constable Noble was in charge of the police arrangements for controlling the crowds and created a sensation by appearing mounted, an unusual sight at a golf tournament. When he subsequently submitted his bill for the hire of the horse to the Town Council, one outraged Councillor was heard to protest “why didn’t he use the auld white yin” referring to the old Corporation Clydesdale which was peacefully spending its last days in retirement at Ladhope.
After this splendid tournament the Galashiels Golf Club renewed its pre-war development and teams of its players were soon playing all over the Borders. In 1922 the brother of one very keen player, Mr Alex Johnstone, donated the Johnstone Cup, which became the Challenge Cup. The first winner of this cup, it is good to note, was a young cousin of Mr Ernest Cameron, Mr J A Anderson, who had become a juvenile member of the club as soon as it was formed in 1912. Mr Anderson won the Challenge Cup again in 1926 having been runner up in 1924 and also winner of the Barran Cup in 1923 and 1925. But in looking back on these triumphs Mr Anderson still regrets that Mr Cameron did not live to see them performed on the course he had done so much to bring into being.
The number of members up to date is 200 and the present green keeper is Mr G W Small who succeeded his father Mr R D Small in 1960 when he retired after over 30 years of notable service to the club and went to live in New Zealand where he died two years ago. The R D Small Memorial Trophy was presented by him in memory of one of his sons. I am sure we all hope that his successor, Mr G W Small, is set to break his father’s long record with the club.
The Cups and Trophies for the club plays are as follows:-The Barran Cup – Handicap
The Challenge Trophy (Johnstone Cup) – Scratch
The Graham Cup – Handicap
The Victory Cup – Foursomes
The Dryburgh Cup – Four Ball Foursomes
The Nicholson Cup – Handicap
The Baxter Cup – 36 Holes Handicap
The Walker Cup – Competed for members from Ladhope and Torwoodlee
The R D Small Memorial Trophy – Boys Handicap
The Border Telegraph Cup – Handicap
The Ladhope Trophy –
The Annual Competition organised by the Royal British Legion
This competition is organised by the local branch of the Royal British Legion which takes a profound interest in youth activities, in order to involve young members from both Ladhope and Torwoodlee clubs. The competition is divided into two sections: Junior Boys up to 14 years of age and Senior Boys from 15 to 18 years of age. There are scratch and handicap prizes in each section with, in addition, the crowning honour of a day’s play on a first class golf course, the expenses being paid by the British Legion. This year the boys were taken to the championship course at Dalmahoy. S/Ldr D L Rankin is convenor of this aspect of the Royal British Legion Welfare.