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Tomintoul Golf Club, Moray.

The club was founded in 1897 with a course on the farmland at Croughley. Two years later it was decided to move to farmland at Campdelmore. The location for the latter course was considered a very good one but a lot of work was needed to bring it up to the required standard which would have incured considerable expense. The decision was taken to try and find a more “permanent course”.  

From the 1905 Nisbet's Golf Yearbook; Nine-holes; Membership of 50; Hon. Secretary - A McTavish, Richmond Hotel, Tomintoul; Captain - J McGowan; Entrance Fee 5s and Subs 5s; Visitors' Fees 1s a day. "The course is on Crongly Links. It is inland, and not very well kept. The hazards are a wire fence and a very small burn." 

The following article appeared in the Aberdeen Journal on Thursday 22nd June 1905 with the headline New Course at Tomintoul. “A new golf club has been formed at Tomintoul, with Rev Father Nichol as its energetic secretary, and the new headmaster of the public school, Mr J G Macpherson, as its captain. Being in close proximity to the centre of the village, it is most conveniently situated. At present it consists of nine holes, and while some of them are easy to play, others will require careful and well calculated play to prevent a catastrophe. Burns, bogs, heather, and various bushes have to be avoided. The course is mostly old pasture, and the greens are good and can be vastly improved. Lying high on the slopes of a natural rise, about 1,000 feet above sea level, it commands a splendid prospect of Tomintoul, its fair surroundings, and the grand succession of hills by which it is encircled.The citizens have spared  nothing to make their village attractive to visitors. It can be approached from Dee and Donside over the “Lecht” from Grantown by coach daily, from Ballindalloch Station by a daily mail coach. All these approaches are grand and picturesque, while all have stretches of the finest scenery. Motor cars are becoming very numerous, and bid fair to become an important means of securing visitors.”

The negotiations had been ongoing between the committee and the Duke of Richmond and Gordon, who had, with his usual generosity, granted the use of the Haughs of Keppoch, free of charge. The ground covered 40 acres of prime golfing land. The course was surveyed by Charles Neaves, Lossiemouth, and the work of laying out the course and greens was carried out by Alexander Riach of Tomintoul. The nine-hole course had holes ranging in length from 180 to 460 yards, the greens were a very precise “20 feet square” the bogey was set at 36.

The Duke of Richmond and Gordon resided at Gordon Castle in Baffshire.     

The new course, the third one, was opened on Friday 6th July 1906 by Mrs Gordon Smith Cameron of Delnabo.The weather on the day was miserable with grey skies and heavy rain for the opening ceremony.  

In 1906/7/8 the secretary was A McTavish, Richmond Hotel, Tomintoul. The captain was J McPherson. Entry Fees were 5/- and subs 5/- Visitors' fees 1/- a day. Not much to recommend the nine hole course at this time. It was described as follows "The course is on Crongly Links, Haughs of Kepoch. It is inland and not very well kept. The hazards are a wire fence and a very small burn"

Mr J G Macpherson, handicap 5, played in the Spey Bay tournament in August 1909.

It was reported in July 1910 that the course was in good condition and numerous visitors had taken advantage of playing. Dr Mackie from Nottingham, who was staying in the neighbourhood at Bank House, had made a considerable contribution towards a silver cup for competition. 

By 1911 the course had been "re-constructed". The secretary was D Cameron, Sweetbriar, Tomintoul. There was no entry fee and subs were 7/6.

In 1914 there was no entry fee and subs were 7/6d. Visitors’ fees were 6d a round, 1/- a day, 2/- a week and 5/- a month. The professional was D Cumming.

The club went into abeyance at the time of WW1.

The next mention was in December 1926 when it was reported that “a fine specimen of wild cat has been shot in the vicinity of Tomintoul golf course by John Stewart, gamekeeper to Sir Ian Walker, Bart.”

The club had taken time to re-establish following WW1 and it re-appeared in about 1927 when visitors’ fees were 1/- a day and 5/- a week.

This later 9 hole course had a SSS and Par of 34 during the 1930s, 33 by closure. It was situated on the right bank of the River Avon on 30 acres of fine porous alluvial soil and was one mile from the village. Hazards were both artificial and natural. the greens were kept in first class order, particularly during the tourist season, and the fairways were always in good condition. Several of the holes presented unique golfing features which called for accurate play. There was a fine clubhouse fitted with lockers. Sunday play was not allowed until 1929. Membership was usually about 50 but there seemed to be a sharp increase to 170 in the mid 1930s. In the early years there were stations at Grantown on Spey, 14 miles and Ballindalloch 15 miles. From July to October there was a motor bus service twice daily. In the 1930s and 40s the nearest station was at Dufftown, 19 miles away, and there was also a good bus service. Local hotels were the Richmond Arms and the Gordon Arms.

In June 1929 the golf club decided in favour of Sunday golf for the season.

Below is the result of a return match played at Dufftown in August 1931.   

Dufftown   Tomintoul  
A Symon 1 F F Macpherson 0
C Morrice (half) 0 D Maclennan (half) 0
R W Symon 1 H Paterson 0
R Gray 1 Mr Fraser 0
Major Gordon 1 Dr Lindsay 0
John Gordon 1 John McIntyre 0
J B Macdonald 1 Rev G P Shaw 0
E McCombie 0 John Matheson 1
John Symon (half) 0 J O MacIntyre (half) 0
Ian Stephen 1 J Grant 0
R Milne 1 D Matheson 0
G Samson 1 Lieutenant Gowdie  0
Jas Kellas 0 R Paterson 1
John Hepburn 1 D Rose 0
  10   2

Below is the result of a match played at Aberlour in July 1934.

Aberlour   Tomintoul  
J M R Stewart 1 J McWilliam 0
S J Ovens 0 Ian McIntosh 1
Rev A S Kerr 0 William Middleton 1
F Hendry 1 J Matheson 0
P Wilson 1 J D R MacDonald 0
William Macgregor 1 Dr Lindsay 0
W F Treacher 0 D McLennan 1
A F MacIntyre 0 A Aitken 1
C Simpson 0 J O MacIntyre 1
R M Tocher 1 Jas MacIntosh 0
J A Forbes 1 Rev B Auer 0
  6   5

The annual captain versus vice-captain match took place in May 1936; captains’ team names first; Allister Aitken halved with Jas O McIntyre; J McWilliam beat D MacLennan; J Matheson beat J Ferguson; W Kelman lost to J Grant; Rev B Auer beat J Hendry. Captain 3 vice-captain 1. 

The winner of the monthly stroke competition for September 1936 was Dr E J Michie 72, runner-up was James Ferguson 74. Mr Ferguson was the winner of the clock presented by James Grant, Gordon Arms Hotel.

The annual general meeting was held in the Library in March 1937, Mr Allister Aitken, the captain, in the chair. The balance sheet, produced by the secretary and treasurer, John McWilliam, showed that the club was in a satisfactory position financially. Before officials were appointed the Rev. B Auer requested that thanks should be inserted in the minutes thanking the secretary for his services to the club. Mr McWilliam would be leaving Tomintoul to take up an appointment in the North of Scotland Bank at Forres. The following officers were elected; President, Colonel Oliver Haig; vice-president, James Grant, Gordon Arms; captain, Dr E J Mackie; vice-captain, Donald MacLennan; secretary and treasurer, James Grant, Bank House.

In the final of the Bruce Lockhart Challenge Cup played in September 1937 Robert S Gray deafeated Dr E J Michie. D MacLennan, vice-captain, presented the trophy to Mr Gray, he also presented the captain’s prize to Norman Mitchell. 

From 1938 to 1949 visitors’ fees were 1/- a round, 1/6d a day, Sundays 2/- a round and 5/- a week.

The annual meeting was held in the Library in April 1938. Mr James Grant, secretary and treasurer, submitted a very satisfactory financial report. Mr R H Bruce Lockhart, Dr E J Michie, the retiring captain, and Dr Lindsay, Aberdeen, were thanked for prizes presented last season. Office bearers appointed were; President, Colonel. O Haig; vice-presidents, Dr Lindsay, Aberdeen; R H Bruce Lockhart and James Grant, Gordon Arms; match secretary, G W Phillip, captain, James Ferguson; vice-captain, John Birnie jnr.    

Below is the result of a match played at Tomintoul against Grantown-on-Spey in July 1938. 

Tomintoul   Grantown-on-Spey  
L Beddie 1 A McIntyre 0
J Ferguson 0 D Davidson 1
J Birnie 0 A Phimister 1
Dr E J Michie (Half) 0 J Cameron (Half) 0
Tom Stuart 0 J Templeton 1
John Hendry 0 R Wilson 1
Jas Grant 0 A McIntosh 1
G W Phillip 0 W Fotheringham 1
  1   6

Playing in a friendly match with R Clarkson and D MacLennan in July 1938, James Ferguson holed in one at the fourth.

The club held their annual dance in the Memorial Hall in August 1938. The arrangements were made by the joint-secretaries, Jas Grant and W Philip. Allison’s Dance Band from Lossiemouth provided the music.

In the Final of the Bruce Lockhart Cup played in August 1938 James Ferguson beat Edward McAllister junior by 4 &3.

Below is the result of a Club versus Visitors match played in July 1939.

Tomintoul   Visitors  
D MacLennan o George Barton 1
J Birrie 1 Mr Brittan 0
J Grant 0 Dr McAulay 1
J O McIntyre 1 Mr Scullion 0
A McHardy 1 P MacDonald 0
J Hendry 1 Mr Leitch 0
J Smith 0 Mr West 1
  4   3

Below is the result of a match played at Tomintoul against Nethybridge Golf Club in July 1939. Mr R H Bruce Lockhart, the well known author, welcomed the visiting club, A S Grant, Nethybridge, replied.

Tomintoul   Nethybridge  
L Beddie 0 D W Gordon 1
R H Bruce Lockhart 0 A S Grant 1
C E Britton (half) 0 D Carr (half) 0
Dr McAuley (half) 0 W Ross (half) 0
D MacLennan 1 W Gordon 0
James Grant (half) 0 G McIntosh (half) 0
Father Murdoch 0 J B Gordon 1
J F Prince 0 P MacLean 1
Dr Lindsay 0 F W Grant 1
Father Auer 0 J Cameron 1
  1   6

Much needed funds were raised at the annual dance held in the Memorial Hall in August 1939. Members of the club as well as visitors and staff of various local shooting lodges attended. The secretary, James Ferguson, Commercial Bank, made the arrangements. The catering was carried out by John Birnie. Mr Alexander Brown was M.C and music was supplied by The Royal Orpheans Band from Keith.

The annual meeting was held in March 1941, J O McIntyre in the chair. The balance sheet was produced and the club was shown to be in a healthy position financially. The following officers were elected; Hon. Presidents - Col O Haig, Inchrory; Commander Chas Howard, Delnabo; Major A Murray-Graham, Strathavon Lodge; R H Bruce Lockhart and Dr Lindsay, Aberdeen; captain, Allister McHardy; vice-captain, William Kelman; secretary and treasurer, William White, Commercial Park. The club had received a communication from the Department of Agriculture regarding the ploughing up of the course. It was decided that any crop which might be yielded would not justify the prohibitive cost of fencing and draining which would be necessary and the secretary was instructed to inform the Depatment of that finding along with the clubs undertaking to utilise the course for grazing. The official opening of the course for the seaon would be the 7th May.     

The annual meeting was held in May 1943, W Kelman, retiring captain, presided. The following office bearers were appointed; Hon. president, Colonel O Haig; vice-presidents, Major Murray-Graham, Dr R Lindsay, Aberdeen, R H Bruce Lockahart, London, Commander C J Howard, Delnabo; captain, C M Ross; vice-captain, G Mitchell; secretary and treasurer, D MacLennan.

  Secretary Professional/greenkeeper
1914 D Cameron, Sweetbriar, Tomintoul.  
1927 F Macrae and J R Davidson, Commercial Bank of  Scotland. C Fraser (g)
1928/30s F Macrae D Gow (g)
1931/36   Jas Macintyre (g)
1935/36 J J Mathesin, "Benavon" Tomintoul.  
1937 J McWilliam J Hendry (g)
1938/39 J Grant and G W Philip, North of Scotland Bank, Tomintoul. J Hendry (g)

 

  Course records
1931 F MacPherson 35
1935/6 J McWilliam 63
1938/49 J McWilliam 31

A prominent member of the club was Sir Robert (R H) Bruce Lockhart (1887-1970). He was a secret agent, author, journalist and British diplomat. He wrote “Memoirs of a British Agent” in 1932, it became a best seller and bought him world wide attention.

Although the club was listed in the Golf er’s Handbook for a few years following the war the course had probably disappeared at the time of WW2.

Tomintoul Golf Club, Moray. View of the golf course.

Postcard of the course. “Ross Series”

 

Tomintoul Golf Club, Moray. The golf course and River Avon.

Golf course and River Avon. Postcard by J H Potter, Post Office, Tomintoul. L. V. 7101.

 

Tomintoul Golf Club, MOray. The Glenavon course.

A Raphael Tuck & Sons Ltd, London postcard. The Glenavon course, Tomintoul in 1940.

 

Tomintoul Golf Club, Moray. Location of the golf course.

Location of the Tomintoul course in the mid 1920s.

Grid reference NJ16565,16800, co-ordinates 316565,816800.