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Famous North Berwick Golfers
Willie Anderson    Arnaud Massy    Wilfred Thomson    Ben Sayers    Dorothy Campbell    Fred McLeod

Ramsay Hunter
Golf Club Maker
Born:12th November 1852, Edinburgh
Died: 1909 Gravesend, Kent, England

[12th on East Course]
12th East Links, North Berwick
© Digitalsport UK

[14th on West
14th West Links, North Berwick
© Digitalsport UK

[18th Gullane No.1]
Gullane Main Street and No.1 Course
© Digitalsport UK

[15th on West Links]
15th West Links, North Berwick
© Digitalsport UK

  The 'Hunter' Golfing Dynasty
By Douglas Seaton
North Berwick Factfile

Ramsay Hunter born 12th November 1852, Newport Street, Edinburgh son of William Hunter, a joiner to trade and his wife Helen Mitchell. Ramsay's grandfather was William Hunter a cabinetmaker employing 3 men, 1 boy, and two servants. His grandmother was Jessie McGregor and the family resided and worked from 21 Leven Street, Edinburgh for over 44 years.

Willie's sons Ramsay, Henry, and William apprenticed as joiners in the family business and learned to play golf on the neighbouring Brunsfield Links. Dr. W. Laidlaw Purves a member at Bruntsfield offered Ramsay a position as greenkeeper and clubmaker at the new course at Sandwich, Kent (later Royal St George's). In 1890 Ramsay employed his brother William as a clubmaker at Sandwich. Ramsay was reluctantly dismissed in 1901, having 'given way to his old failing' but his legacy at St George's remains. Ramsay was an original member of the PGA in 1902 and joined Shooters Hill Golf Club in south-east London (1903-07). Recently a large collection of legal papers and tax related correspondence regarding the demise and subsequent sale of Hunters business at St George's in 1902. Ramsay died in 1909 while professional at Mid-Kent Golf Club at Gravesend.

Willie's son Henry McGregor Hunter known as Harry was born 5th April 1860 in Edinburgh and worked as a joiner in the family business. Harry was a member of Bruntisfield Golf Club and moved to Sandwich in Kent where he became assistant to Ramsay Hunter. Harry and his family resided in Golf Cottage, Golf Club House, Sandhills, Shoulden, Deal, Kent. In 1889 he was professional at Ashdown Forest Golf Club in Kent, before he moved to Cinque Ports Golf Club, Deal in Kent where he laid out the course. Harry remained at Deal for 43 years and was an original member of the PGA.

William Irvine Hunter (1892-1973)

Harry's son William Irvine Hunter born 29th January 1892, Forest Row, Kent, Sussex. In 1913 he played in the French Open Championship at Chantilly. During WW1 he joined the Royal Engineers and was posted to France. In 1920 he reached the final eight in the Amateur Championship at Muirfield and lead the amateurs by a good margin at Deal in the Open. In 1921 Williiam Irvine Hunter won the Amateur Championship at Hoylake representing the Walmer and Kingsdown Golf Club where he was a member. Despite being born in England Willie was a Scottish Internationalist and selected to play against England in 1922.

Willie described as a Post Office Telephonist had to take his yearly vacation to play in the amateur championship. In August that year he sailed to America and booked into the Vanderbilt Hotel, New York for three months. He travelled to St Louis Country Club, Missouri, to play in the US Amateur Championship and he reached the semi-finals, defeating on the way, Bobby Jones over 36 holes. He was eventually beaten in the quarter-finals by Robert Gardner during a violent rainstorm. The following year Willie Hunter returned to Britain to defend his amateur title at Prestwick and reached the quarter-finals. He entered the championship from the Westchester-Biltmore Country Club, of Rye, N.Y. That year he won the St George's Gold Vase at Sandwich.

Willie Hunter won the Amateur Championship at Hoylake in 1921

In 1921 when Wille was eliminated from the National Amateur Championship he took time to visit his brother Ramsay who was assistant to Eddie Towns at the Shannon Country Club. He had not seen his brother for sometime and they played an exhibition match together. Willie Hunter was in business with fellow golfer Alex 'Sandy' McLeod selling imported English and Scottish sports garments based in New York in 1921.

In August 1922, the Chicago Tribune reported that Willie Hunter had been suspended by the United States Golf Association from playing in amateur tournaments because of his association with a golf goods importing company. The USGA followed up the report that W. Hunter had been barred from the amateur golf tournaments was incorrect. The mistake arose because another Willie Hunter, a cousin of the former Amateur Champion, had entered a professional match.

Willie Irvine Hunter (known as Wee Willie) travelled extensively in Canada, the Pacific Coast and Middle West before taking a job as club secretary at the Rancho Country Club in Los Angeles. In 1923 he won the Southern California Amateur Championship and the following year he took a job as secretary at Lakeside Golf Club, Hollywood. He married Josephine Edwards and they resided at 533, Moreno Avenue, West Los Angeles before moving to Stanford Street, Santa Monica. At this time Willie played his golf at the Brentwood Club in West Los Angeles, CA.(1925-28) then at Montebello Park, CA (1928-30), California CC (1934), Fox Hills CA (1935) and was employed by Los Angeles Athletic Club at Riviera Country Club since 1936. He was also a member of the advisory staff of A.G.Spanding Bros.

Wee Willie played in the US Open throughout the twenties, his best finish was eighth in 1926 at Scioto Country Club, Columbus Ohio. He played in the 1923 PGA Championship and reached the last 23. He won several amateur tournaments including victories on the PGA Tour's 1936 National Match Play Championship, Hunter's legacy at Riviera includes saving the golf course from catastrophic flood damage in 1939 and the club itself, from bankruptcy, during World War II. Willie Irvine Hunter died February 1973 and was buried in Inglewood Park Cemetery, California.

Willie's son Henry McGregor Hunter known as Mac was born in California on 7th June 1929 and Tommy Armour was his godfather. Mac played in the US Amateur Championship in 1947, and the following year he joined the ranks of the professionals and was assistant to his father at Riviera Country Club. Mac Hunter won the Southern California PGA Championship in 1967 at the Long Beach's Recreation Park course. His father won the same tournament in 1939 and 1942. [Hunter] He retained his position at Riviera until 1973. Mac won the National Junior Championship in 1946 by defeating Arnold Palmer in the final. When his father died Mac took over as professional at the Riviera Country Club where he taught Bing Crosby's family to play golf and in 1952 he gave Gregory Peck and his wife Greta golf lessons. 1n 1959 Mac played in the US Open at Winged Foot Golf Club, New York and finished in the top twenty. Mac Hunter was head pro at the Riviera Country Club, for 23 years and in 1976 he owned of his own golf equipment company.

Ramsay Hunter (1894)

Ramsay Hunter (b. 2nd February 1894) emigrated to America on 3rd April 1914 and his contact was M.A.Finlay, Wagamama Store, Philadelphia. Ramsay was attached to the Titusville Golf Club in Philadelphia, before moving to the Longue Vue Golf Club, Hastings-on-Hudson, NY. In 1916 he was appointed professional at Fort Wayne Country Club, Indiana. In 1919 a talented seventeen-year-old golfer from New York called Eugenio Sarazeni traveled to Indiana to play golf during the winter months, where he met Ramsay who offered him employment as his assistant. The young man accepted, changed his name to Gene Sarazen and went on to become the first player to win all four Grand Slam tour laments. He was assistant to Jim Barnes at Whitemarsh Valley and afterwards with Jock Hutchison at Glenview. During WW1 Ramsay served with the Royal Air Force in Canada and in 1922 he was professional at Shannon Country Club in Pittsburgh.

(Left) William Irvine Hunter (Wee Willie) © Golf Illustrated 1921

William Hunter (1878)

William Hunter born (Feb.1878) in Perth, Scotland son of William Hunter, a joiner to trade and his wife Helen Mitchell. Willie apprenticed as a clubmaker with his uncle Ramsay at Deal in Kent and in 1896 he was appointed professional at New Brighton Golf Club, on the Wirral and was then engaged by Glamorganshire Golf Club (1897-99) in Wales where he met his wife Nellie Munro at Penarth. Willie Hunter played for Scotland against England in 1906-07-09-10.

Willie Hunter sailed to Australia on the S.S.Oratava and arrived in Sydney in April 1899 to take up a position with the Australian Golf Club at Botany Links after being sponsored for the job by G. S. Yuill & Co. Ltd. of Sydney. Willie Hunter was the golf professional for James Martin & Co, a sports equipment store at 161 Clarence Street, Sydney. Willie always carried a good selection of golfing requisites from the company.

The first professional golf match ever played in New South Wales took place on the 23rd June 1900 at the Australian Golf Club's links at Botany for a purse subscribed by members of the Royal Sydney Golf Club and the Australian Golf Club. The competitors were James Scott the Royal Sydney Golf Club professional and William Hunter, the Australian Golf Club professional. The first two rounds where played over Botany links and the next two rounds over Bondi the following Saturday. Hunter won nine up and eight to play for what was virtually the professional golf championship of Sydney. James received an application from Bundaberg and Toowoomba for his services but his time was limited and he promised to return next year.

In February 1901 Hunter travelled to the USA and was signed up by the St Louis Club. He resided at 220 Bonhomme Avenue, Clayton, St Louis. Willie moved to Shelter Island Golf Club, NY before taking up a position at Richmond Golf Club, Surrey, England in (1903-1914). Ex-King Manoel of Portugal joined Richmond Golf Club at Sudbrook Park and took lessons from Willie Hunter in May 1911. Willie was joined at Richmond by his younger brother James Stevenson Hunter as a clubmaker and they resided at 1 Michaels Place, Petersham. Surrey. Willie returned to America in March 1915 and was golf instructor at Onwentsia Golf Club, Lake Forest, IL.

In 1915, Willie played an exhibition match at the opening of the Columbus Park, Chicago's sixth public course. In November 1917, Kansas City and St Louis professionals competed in the Liberty Bond-Red Cross tournament at the Ridgedale course in St Louis. Willie Hunter led the field and won $150 in Liberty Bonds. Following the tournament the professionals organised the Missouri State PGA and elected William Hunter as their first president.

James Hunter followed his brother Willie to Australia and found work in Tasmania in 1901. He was professional at Royal Melbourne in 1903 before he returned with Willie to Richmond Golf Club. Later James followed his brother to Illinois and was Willie's assistant at Onwentsia. James, Willie and his wife Nellie resided at 916 N. Oakwood Avenue, Lake Forest ILL.

James Stevenson Hunter

James Stevenson Hunter born 1879, 21 Leven Road, Edinburgh son of William Hunter golf professional and clubmaker and his wife Helen Mitchell. His father taught him the art of clubmaking and how to play the game on the neighbouring Bruntisfield links. James Hunter arrived in Sydney on the S.S.Eurimbla from Brisbane on 11th June 1900. His brother William Hunter was the instructor at the Australian Golf Club at Botany. James arrived in Sydney in February 1900 and assisted his brother for six weeks. Hunter came to Brisbane where he was engaged in the tuition for eight weeks. Among his pupils was Lord Lamington, Governor of Queensland who was an enthusiast of the game. There were over 100 golfers in Brisbane at the time and Hunter made a new record of the Brisbane Golf Course on Chelmer links. James Hunter then moved to Rockhampton Golf Club where he was engaged for four weeks. He moved to Townsville where his time was occupied every day for nine weeks. The Charters Tower Golf Club then made a request for his services to conduct a series of golf lessons and the Rockhampton Club allowed him three weeks at Charters to encourage the game in Northern Queensland.

He was engaged as professional with James Martin & Company, a golf club specialist and ball remaker at 161 Clarence Street, near Kingston, Sydney. Hunter also carried with him the materials for making clubs for the different players, the shafts being made of hickory and heads of Scottish beech. Hunter was staying at the Seacliff Hotel in Townsville and the local newspaper invited the members wishing to take lessons to be at the steward's room beneath the Royal Jockey Club, grandstand from ten o'clock daily. Hunter also intimated that he would be willing to give lessons to ladies at the rule of 2s 6d per hour. James returned to Rockhampton where he remained for a month then he sailed directly to Sydney.

After a few weeks stay in the New South Wales capital his plan was to return to England on 9th November 1901 but he accepted a position as the first professional golfer in Tasmania and was attached to the nine-hole course at Hobart Golf Club. While there he laid out the Sandy Bay golf course. The Hobart club relocated to Rosny in 1915. Among James Hunter's pupils were Clyde & Bruce Pearce. Clyde won the Australian Open and Amateur in 1908 and his brother Bruce, a left-hander reached the final eight of the British Amateur, and was three-times winner of the Tasmanian Amateur Chamampionship. Hunter returned to New South Wales in February 1902 and died suddenly in Chicago in March 1926.

Ramsay Hunter, North Berwick

Harry Hunter's youngest son William married Helen Mitchell and they named their son Ramsay (1888-1952). He apprenticed as a House Painter and moved to 4 Lorne Lane, North Berwick. Ramsay joined the Bass Rock Golf Club and in 1928 he won the prestigious Esmond Trophy open to all artisan golfers in East Lothian. Hunter was also member of the Glen Golf Club and won the Tantallon Medal over the Burgh course in 1912. Ramsay married Isabella Aitken and their step-daughter Georgina (Jean) Hunter born in 1910 continued the 'Hunter' golfing dynasty when she married Charlie Thomson the foreman clubmaker with Ben Sayers & Son at North Berwick. Their son Bryan Thomson apprenticed as a club maker and in 1952 he won the Scottish School Boys Championship representing Bass Rock Golf Club. Bryan joined the professional ranks and was appointed to Penrith Golf Club.

[East Links]
East Links Golf Course, Clubhouse and Milsey Bay, North Berwick.

Copyright © Douglas Seaton 1994 - 2021, All Rights Reserved.