North Berwick Glen Golf Club
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Glen Golf Club
North Berwick, EH39 4LE
Office Manager, Rita Wilson
Tel. 01620 895288
18th green - Glen Golf Course
© Digitalsport UK
14th West Links, North Berwick
© Digitalsport UK
East Course Score Card
12th Glen Golf Course, North
© Digitalsport UK
Glen Golf Course |
By Douglas Seaton
North Berwick Factfile
GLEN GOLF COURSE has the most picturesque
setting in East Lothian. Most visitors regard the West Links as the course to play, but they are missing a hidden gem. A short
climb to the first green reveals unbelievable views of the rugged coastline, with every hole affording the golfer a different
perspective over the Firth of Forth.
The ground east of the Glen Burn was originally known as Haugh Park, where the 1st and 18th fairways are now laid out. The land
was part of the Rhodes farm owned by Sir Walter Hamilton-Dalrymple who in 1894 laid out a golf course on the coastal strip which
included the 'End Hole' now the famous 13th 'Sea Hole'. This was James Braid's first venture in golf course design as he assisted
Ben Sayers to layout the nine-hole course.
The Rhodes Links measured 2310 yards - par 35, and was formally opened in April 1894 with a match between Ben Sayers and the
former Open Champion Hugh Kirkaldy from Oxford, both of whom had just returned from Machrihanish. After a close game of two
rounds or 18 holes, the match went in favour of the Oxford professional by 83 to 87.
The Rhodes Golf Club was instituted in 1894 for play over the new course and Sir Walter Hamilton-Dalrymple was elected captain,
with Joint Hon. Secretaries- R. M. McKechnie and C. L. Blaikie.
Haugh Park was the site of the town's celebrations for the
1902 Coronation of King Edward VII.
With the increase in the popularity of golf at North Berwick,
overcrowding of the West Links became a major problem and it was proposed by the Town Council to acquire additional land for the
provision of a new 18 hole Burgh Course.
James Braid and Ben Sayers were asked to give advice on the extension of the Rhodes Links to 18 holes and following a visit in
November 1905 they compiled a report for the Town Council. In 1906, the Council applied for a Provisional Order which was granted
by the Secretary of State, this allowed the town boundary to be extended and the purchase of the land. This historic document
to extend the town boundary was signed by witness Tom Scollay the local police constable who happened to be in the Town Clerk's
office at the time.
The new course stretched inland over the Rhodes and Castleton farms, with the first six holes skirting the Rhodes steading and Wanton
Walls cottages, passing the disused lime kilns and out towards the shooting range of the Volunteer Rifle Corps. The green then took an
angular direction towards the eleventh and eighth holes. A turn was made from this point and the inward play was along the cliff top
back to the Glen burn, where the eighteenth hole was situated, embracing the ground of the original nine-hole Rhodes Links.
Following a poor winter in 1906 the seeding on the greens failed and by the spring of 1907 only 9 holes were open for play. To
assist the Town Council the farmer at Wamphray offered turf and an anonymous donor laid a water pipe to the centre of the course.
The following year Fred Smith from Coombo Bank, Seven Oaks was appointed green keeper and the 18 holes measuring three and-a-half miles
came into play.
| A tournament was held to celebrate the opening of the new course and Harry Vardon alone took over a
1,000 people with him off the first tee. |
The course was officially opened on 4th June 1908 when a professional tournament was played which included J.H. Taylor, Alex Herd,
Andrew Kirkcaldy and Ben Sayers. J. G. Sherlock of Richmond scored 78 and 79 for a winning total of 157.
In 1909, James Braid was consulted on the new bunkering, with the advice of Peter Lees, the green keeper at Royal Burgess Golf Club.
Lees apprenticed as a green keeper at Archerfield before making his reputation at Mid-Surrey Golf Club, Richmond. In 1914 he
emigrated to America and worked with the leading course architects Charles Blair Macdonald, Albert Tillinghast and Seth Rayner.
He wrote a book and several articles on the maintenance of golf courses on different soils.
The North Berwick Corporation Links Club was founded on 9th June 1906 when George Dalziel was elected captain and Andrew D.
Wallace appointed secretary and treasurer. The entry fee was 17/6d and the club had 233 members including 10 ladies. The original
Rhodes Golf Club continued with 50 members and the former Amateur Champion Robert Maxwell was their Honorary President.
| In 1908 the visitor ticket cost 1 guinea yearly; 7/6d
per month; 2/6d per week and 6d per day. The Corporation Links Club played their first competition in October that year with separate
prizes for the ladies. In July 1930, at a Special General Meeting, the club adopted the name 'Glen Golf Club'. |
In July 1909 an anonymous donor gifted 300 guineas towards prizes for a professional golf tournament. The field included five Open
Champions; J.H. Taylor, Arnaud Massy, Sandy Herd, Harry Vardon, Willie Auchterlonie and two future champions in Ted Ray and George
Duncan. Among the local professionals were Ben Sayers, Willie Watt, David and Andrew Grant, James Souter, Ben Sayers Jnr. and Robert
A huge crowd watched the tournament including many spectators who arrived on special trains from Edinburgh. Harry Vardon alone took
over a 1,000 people with him off the first tee. George Duncan, the pro at Timperley GC on the outskirts of Manchester won the tournament
with a four round total of 290, including a brilliant 70 in the third round, setting a new course record.
In 1947 the majority voted against golfing on the Sabbath. Golf
was first played on a Sunday over the Glen Golf Course on 11th March 1958.
| Duncan received a gold medal and
£125, the largest sum ever offered for a first prize in a professional tournament. This record was beaten four months later
when Willie Anderson from North Berwick won the Portola tournament at the San Francisco Golf and Country Club with the first prize
of £150. The mid-iron and putter Duncan used to win the event on the Burgh Course are on display in the Museum of Golf. Sandy
Herd was runner-up with Vardon third, while local favourite Robert Thomson finished tied for sixth place. During the tournament, W. H.
Horne of Chertsey G.C. had the longest drive ever recorded in a competition. From the 13th tee, Horne drove the ball to the edge of
the green which measured 383 yards 1 foot. This drive was recognised as the official world record for over 12 years. |
The anonymous donor was Colonel John Weir who lived at Ingleholm in Clifford Road, North Berwick and was conferred Honorary
Life Member in 1909. Colonel Weir, although a United States citizen and of Mexico, was born in Scotland in 1852. He made his fortune
in America and was president of the Nevada-Utah Mines & Smelters Corporation. On 14th April 1912, Weir perished in the Titanic disaster
and his body was never recovered. The former coachman from Innerleithen is remembered annually when the Glen Ladies compete for
the Colonel Weir Rosebowl.
George Duncan who won the professional tournament was later appointed head pro at Wentworth and was Open Champion in 1920. He was
hired by Edward Esmond, a wealthy financier and race horse trainer who owned a summer house in North Berwick, to travel to Paris for
a month each autumn and coach his daughters to play golf. In 1925 Esmond presented a trophy to be competed among the artisan golfers
in East Lothian. The Esmond Trophy was first played over the Glen golf course (1925-1945) before being moved to the West Links until
the present day.
D & W Auchterlonie, from the famous St Andrews club making family opened a workshop on the Glen course in 1907. David was the
clubmaker while Willie Auchterlonie, the 1893 Open Champion gave lessons. Clubs stamped with Auchterlonie - North Berwick are
highly collectable. An iron putter made by Willie Auchterlonie at North Berwick circa 1910 is on display in the British Golf
Museum. In 1907, Tommy Hume was also a pro golfer at the Glen, working on his own account while living with his family in the
Rhodes Farm Cottages. Alex Marshall, the clubmaker at 27 Station Hill took over Auchterlonie's workshop in 1911 where he repaired
clubs. He was followed in 1919 by Robert Thomson who was appointed Burgh golf professional from 1923-1938.
Bob Thomson had an outstanding career, he represented Scotland in the Home Internationals from 1903-1912. In the Open Championship
he finished in the top six in 1903 and 1905 and was Scottish Professional Champion in 1909 after defeating Willie Watt from Dirleton
in the final. He replaced James Braid at Romford Golf Club in 1904 and three years later returned to North Berwick. He regularily
played in the prestigious News Of The World tournament at Sunningdale and received £10 prize money in 1912. Robert Thomson
remained single and died in 1954 aged 78 years.
In June 1914 the Scottish Professional Championship was played over the Glen golf course. David Watt from Dirleton scored 71 in the
fourth round to oust his brother Willie Watt from the leadership which he held from the start. David won by a couple of strokes and
became the first left-handed player to win a professional tournament. David Watt apprenticed as a clubmaker with Andrew Bissett at
North Berwick before being appointed golf professional at Mortonhall. Three years later David Watt died of wounds suffered during WW1
while fighting with the Gordon Highlanders at Arras in France.
Tom Dickson from North Berwick was appointed professional and clubmaster at the Glen Golf Club in 1935. Following WW2 the Town Council
appointed Arthur Fennell (1910-1974) as professional. He leased the timber building beside the first tee where he sold clubs and balls
and arranged golf lessons. He also had a sports equipment shop at 27, Quality Street, North Berwick.
Craig Gilholm, a former member of the Glen and Rhodes Golf Club is now the Links Manager at Hoylake for the Royal Liverpool Golf Club.
His grandfather Andrew Gilholm was a green keeper at the Glen from 1919-1946 and Craig served his apprenticeship as a green keeper at
Booking Fax:01620 895447
Starter Tel: 01620 892726 |
| The Glen
golf course has changed little since those halcyon days of Braid, Taylor and Vardon, with the islands of Fidra, Lamb, Craigleith
and the famous Bass Rock less than a mile offshore. By the 8th tee the view of Tantallon Castle gives the visitor a sense of
history, while the course meanders back along the cliff top, with the salty spray of the sea from the waves crashing on the rocks
below and sea birds of every species flying overhead. One of the most dramatic holes is the par three 13th, with its elevated tee
and partially hidden green at sea level, giving problems with club selection. |
The closing holes offer panoramic views of the town, harbour and beaches, which alone is well worth the green fee. The 18th tee
situated on a plateau with the fairway dropping away eighty feet below, has ruined many a good score with out of bounds and the
beach to the right. But by now the clubhouse is in sight, and the 19th hole beckons. The combination of inland turf with a links
setting will appeal to all levels of skill, measuring 6321 yards S.S.S. 70.
| 13th Hole, Glen Course, North Berwick
© Digitalsport UK |
| End Hole - Rhodes Links - 1894 |
| South Elevation of the 'Refreshment Pavilion' built in 1929. Copyright
© Peter Lowe |
Driving from the North and Edinburgh Airport |
From Edinburgh take the A720 City By Pass (South) - follow
sign post Berwick-Upon-Tweed (A1). Continue on A1 (South) and take the A198 - sign post North Berwick. Pass through the villages
of Longniddry, Aberlady, Gullane to North Berwick. Then follow signs for Town Centre and East Links Golf Course. Drive time from
Forth Road Bridge and Edinburgh Airport 45 minutes.
Driving from the South
From the A1 motorway
take the A198 - sign post North Berwick. Follow signs for Town Centre and then East Links Golf Course.
| Copyright © Douglas C. Seaton 1997 - 2013, All Rights Reserved.