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Montrose Golf LInks

Montrose Golf LInks
Montrose Golf LInks 131

Address: Traill Drive
Postcode: DD10 8SW
Telephone: 01674 672932

The Medal Course at Montrose is a majestic layout in the true traditions of Scottish Links golf and has hosted many important events in its history including the Scottish Professional Championship in 1967 and 1970, the Scottish Amateur Championship in 1975 and the British Boys' Championship and Internationals in 1991.  

Because of all these factors the Links was honoured by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club in being chosen as a Final Qualifying Course for the Open Championship at Carnoustie in 1999 and again in 2007.

It is known that golf has been played on the links of Montrose for more than four hundred years making it one of the very earliest and important venues in the history of the Royal and Ancient game.

To a young Montrose lad by the name of James Melvill goes the credit for recording the existence of golf at Montrose as early as 1562, more than twenty years before Mary Queen of Scots, golf's first lady player, met her unfortunate demise. James Melvill was a gifted lad who entered St Andrews University when only 15 with not only academic gifts but a keen interest in golf.

His diary records that while he was a boy in Montrose he was taught from the age of 6 to play many different sports including archery "and how to use the glubb for goff". James was born in 1556 so it is established that the game was being played in the town on, and very probably well before, 1562.

It was not until 1810, however, that the golfers of Montrose formed themselves into a club.

Early records show that they might not have bothered even then had it not been for the threat by the Town Council to build a school not only on their course but almost on the 1st tee. The golfers had been under threat from encroachments on their links on a number of occasions. As early as 1785 a Petition was sent to the Sheriff Depute complaining about the ploughing up of part of the common links by a tenant and it is possible to argue that in fact by so banding together in defence of their golf facilities they constituted a club. The 1785 date can be verified and this would move the club up the "league table" of the world's oldest clubs by a couple of places.

The Royal Albert Club, founded in 1810, ranks among the top ten oldest clubs in the world and had a close association with Royal Blackheath, which according to tradition was formed in 1608, although no documentary evidence is available before 1787.

What Montrose can claim uniquely, however, is to have had at one stage in its history the course with the greatest number of holes.

At a time when Musselburgh had 5 holes, Montrose had 25 and although they were not all played on every occasion they were used for a unique event in 1866.

Two Open Champions entered following an advertisement in the national press for a "Open Championship to be held on Montrose Links over 25 holes, being One Round of the Golf Course". Willie Park of Musselburgh, winner of the first Open Championship, finished second with a score of 115. Andrew Strath from Prestwick, the reigning Open Champion, finished on 119 as did the young Jamie Anderson of St Andrews who was to win The Open three times in a row from 1875.

The winner was T Doleman from Glasgow who played the 25-hole course in 112 strokes and won the first prize of £10.

Like many others later the Montrose golfers suffered at the hands of the Industrial Revolution and had to adapt to changes on their beloved links. With Parliamentary permission, the Town Council confiscated the Mid end and East Links for industrial and housing development and made ground available on the North Links by way of compensation.

While Montrose cannot boast the permanency of the Old Course at St Andrews, for instance, there are still parts of the Medal Course which have been played for more than 350 years.

Until the middle of the 19th century the Montrose golfers had to share their links with other sports including football, cricket, archery and horse racing. The right of the citizens to use the links for leisure activities was, and still is, enshrined in law and for more than three centuries golf was free to them.

With the development of the game and the arrival of such refinements as iron cups for the holes, flagsticks to mark their position and even cutting of the grass around the holes, the Town Council and the non-golfers began to insist on charging the players.

By the beginning of last century there was a proliferation of clubs and clubhouses but as a result of amalgamation over the years three now remain - The Royal Montrose Golf Club, Montrose Mercantile Golf Club and the Montrose Caledonia Golf Club.

Until 1st April 2004 the courses were run by a Links Trust but as from this date transferred to being run by a company limited by guarantee named Montrose Golf Links Limited. This new company will continue to administer the Medal Course and the 18-hole auxiliary Broomfield Course which was laid out in the 1920s.  To honour the centenary of the Broomfield Course each of the Holes was given a name for the first time.  Some of these are in honour of people who contributed to the history of the course e.g. Hole 3 - Alex H Findlay - a native of Montrose who has been called "The Father of American Golf".  He was one of its first professionals and possibly its first golf course architect.  Hole 16 - SL Christie - was the Burgh Surveyor who drew up the plans for the 9 hole auxiliary course.  Hole 18 - James Melvill - mentioned above in paragraph 2.

The present Medal Course owes much to a design by Willie Park Jnr. in 1903. He had made alterations to a layout by the Montrose Mercantile Club two years earlier in which Old Tom Morris had advised.

The Medal Course at Montrose is a majestic layout in the true traditions of Scottish links golf and has hosted many important events in its history including the Scottish Professional Championship in 1967 and 1970, the Scottish Amateur Championship in 1975,the British Boys Championship and Internationals in 1991 and was a Final Qualifying Course for the Open Championship held at Camoustie in 1999 and will be again in 2007.