Ardeer Golf Club, Ayrshire.
In 1880 the original nine hole course was situated in Stevenston. Although this course has long since disappeared the original impressive clubhouse still exists. In 1905 land owned by the ICI Company was acquired and a seaside links course was laid out on land in Ardeer. Many of the ICI employees were members of the club.
In 1882 Jamie Anderson visited Ardeer to layout/design the nine-hole course. Following is an article that appeared in the Dundee Evening Telegraph on Saturday 22nd July 1882. "A new golf course has been laid out at Ardeer near Ayr, and a clubhouse is to be built for the accommodation of the Ardeer club, which at present numbers over 100 members. During the past five or six weeks Jamie Anderson, the St Andrews professional and ex-champion, has been engaged making the holes and greens and preparing the course, which will consist of only nine-holes on account of the limited extent of the course. Jamie Anderson has been appointed green-keeper, and is to leave St Andrews in a day or two to commence duty."
Following is an extract from a report that appeared in the Dundee Courier on Monday 17th September 1883."The third hole is described as follows - when playing the third hole you must keep well on the course, and if you play a strong game not more than four or five strokes should be taken to hole out. Have a care lest you land in purgatory (a bunker lying behind the third hole), or you may take ten to get out. Many players whose opinions are entitled to respect say Ardeer is the finest nine-hole green in Scotland. But, my friend, you have had two or three rounds, and what with the exercise and sea air your appetite should be good. Come your ways, then, to fair Mary, that kindly comforter of the weary and hungry golfer. After a hearty meal, seasoned with just a little drop of the pure mountain dew, we shall have a pipe of the fragrant weed, and a crack about the fortunes of the game. "
In January 1884 Dr Colville won the monthly handicap competition, prize donated by Captain Robertson, with a score of 88 – 11 – 77.
In June 1885 Mr McIsaac’s medal competition the result was as follows; John Rhind, 110 – 14 – 96, A C Grant, 109 – 12 – 97; A Campbell 100 scratch; J A Cassell, 126 – 18 – 108; W Jarvie, 112 scratch; K Macdonald, 112 scratch; J R Watson, 136 – 12 – 124.
Results from two competitions played on Saturday 19th May 1888. The monthly competition for the medal presented by Captain Robertson, Braehead House, Saltcoats, was won by R Adams, Irvine The competition for a three piece silver tea service presented by Captain Mc Dowell, Kilmahew House, Ardrossan, was won by Mr Adam.
The following information is taken from the 1888/89 Golfing Annual; The Club was Instituted in July 1880; Entrance Fee £1 and Subscriptions £1; Number of members 120; Captain - Alexander Mc Dowall of Kilmayhew, Ardrossan; Secretary - Archibald Campbell, 113 West Regent Street, Glasgow; Club Prizes – Club Gold Medal (scratch), Couborough Gold Medal (handicap), McIsaac Quarterly Gold Medal (handicap), Robertson Monthly Medal (handicap), also Club and Captain’s Prizes at competitions in April and September; Course Information – The Ardeer Links are on the Ayrshire Coast, about two miles from Ardrossan. They are reached from Glasgow in less than an hour by the Glasgow and South Western (St Enoch Station), the clubhouse close to the Stevenston Station. The course, which is a nine-hole one, is admirably adapted to the game, possessing, as it does, all the advantages of good turf and natural hazards common to a green that borders on the sea. Although the club was formed in 1880, the course is known to have been used for golfing many years ago by the Earl of Eglinton of tournament fame.
Result of a foursome competition for a prize presented by William Law was completed on Saturday 25th March 1893; semi-finals – Blair and Drummond beat Colville and Cook, Osborne and Mackintosh beat Tulloch and Murray; final – Osborne and Mackintosh beat Blair and Drummond by one hole.
There was a good turnout of members playing in fine weather for the monthly medal competition on Saturday 8th April 1893. The Heys Medal was won by the Rev J F Grahame, and the Robertson Medal winner was William A Beckett.
There was a good attendance of members for the annual general meeting which was held on Saturday 16th September 1893, Mr Z J Heyes, in the chair. The report was showing that the club was in a sound financial position. Further improvements had been made to the course including the “formation of several new teeing greens, which have given great satisfaction to the members” Mr James Fergus was elected captain, Mr A O Steven was re-eleted secretary and Mr W W C Cunningham, treasurer. After the meeting the members took part in the autumn competition, Mr R Adam (scratch) returned a splendid score of 73 to win the Heys Medal. Mr William Allen won the Robertson Medal with a score of 66 net, the lowest score since so far recorded. Results as follows; first class (Heys Medal) – R Adam, 73 scratch; E D Prothero, 75 scratch; Stuart Foulis, 85-10-75; William Martin, 85-9-76; James Laird, 81-4-77; W Fleming, 81-4-77; A A Todd, 88-11-77; J Colvil, 89-11-76; W Lacy, 86-11-75; Rev J T Grahame86-5-81; A K Murray, 92-11-81; J B Todd, 94-11-83; Dr Colville, 92-9-83; W C Cunningham, 90-6-84; T M Wilkie, 95-10-85; H Colville, 102-11-91; second class – W Allan (Robertson Medal) – W Allan, 80-14-66; James Donaldson, 95-14-81; H Osborne, 95-13-82; James Mackintosh, 98-13-85; James Gardner, 99-13-86; James L Steven, 105-15-90; J H Connell, 107-17-90. Mr M P Fraser won the longest drive competition, a distance of 195 yards, the prize was given by Mr Z J Heyes.
The monthly medal was played on Saturday 10th March 1894. The course had suffered due to the recent stormy weather, lots of sand had blown across the course, and the heavy rainfall had left pools of water lying in many places, this made good scoring almost impossible, results; Heys Medal – W Allan, 94-12-82; T Halden, 100-12-88; Robertson Medal – W Gardner, 92-15-77; W A Becket, 96-14-82; D Mackill, 101-19-82; W Tulloch, 99-14-85; C Steven, 102-14-88; J Mackintosh, 101-13-88.
Result of the Heys Medal played in December 1911; William Reid, 79+2-81; John Grennlees, 83scratch; G McGregor, 93-8-85; Robertson Medal; Carrick Hamilton, 98-14-84; W D M Sutherland, 105-18-87; John Allan, 98-10-88.
Result of the 1920 New Year Competition; Jas Lawson, 97-18-79; A Wilson, 96-11-85; Jas Slaven, 93-7-86; S Jamieson, 104-18-86; Jas Ross, 97-10-87; R Banks, 105-18-87; G S Millar, 93-6-87.
Competition result for prizes presented by the Captain in May 1925; first class- John Montgomerie, 79-7-72; J D Frew, 80-5-75; second class – William Reid, 95-22-73; E Norwood, 94-19-75.
Result of the Jubilee Cup played in August 1930; A Cambridge, 74-5-69; J McIlwrick, 74-4-70; T Hamilton, 78-5-73; W Reid, 82-9-73; L J Dawson, 89-16-73; J C Robertson, 74 scratch; A C Hamilton, 80-6-74; W Hill, 84-10-74.
In August 1930 the Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald ran an interesting piece on the “Jubilee” of the Ardeer Golf Club, extracts of which follow “It is difficult to realise that fifty years ago there were only three or four golf courses on the Ayrshire coast. Today the courses constitute the “links” of an almost continuous chain, extending from Skelmorlie to Ballantrae.
The idea of forming a golf course at Ardeer fifty years ago originated, it is thought, with Mr Archibald Robertson, who had come to live in retirement at Ardeer Cottage. He was a lover of golf, and doubtless felt the want of a course. At any rate, he discovered, across the railway in front of his house, a nice stretch of turf, and recognising its possibilities, set about forming a club. He found an ardent supporter in the then Parish Minister, the Reverend J Fraser Graham, also a golfer of experience. It was mainly due to the energy of these two gentlemen that the club was started. Mention may here be made of some of the more notable of the professionals attached to the club. The first was Jamie Anderson, a very famous golfer, who had won the Open Championship in each of the three years before he came to Ardeer, viz, in 1877, 1878 and 1879. Later on came Willie Fernie, who won the championship after leaving the club to go to Troon. The Fernie family had a long connection with Ardeer, Willie was succeeded by his brothers Tom and Geordie”
The course was officially opened in August 1880. Besides local club members, golfers from Prestwick, Troon and Glasgow attended the opening. Following the opening days play dinner was served In the Thistle and Rose Hotel, Mr Robertson, who had been elected captain, accepted much praise from the visitors on the condition and layout of the new course. The club prospered and maintained its high reputation for another twenty years, when disaster struck.
“The abandonment of the old course was necessitated on account of subsidence at some parts, but specially by the discharge of washings from the pit, in the shape of a thick black fluid, which gradually spread over a part of the course until it formed what looked like a miniature black sea” So ended the first part of the clubs history.
The resilience of the ardeer members shone through and it wasn’t long before further land became available. Land for the new course was acquired from the Nobel Company. It was inspected and approved by James Braid who designed the 18 hole course. The opening of the new clubhouse and course took place on the 8th of April 1905. For the nearly sixty years the club continued at this site, although there were some alterations to the course in the 1930s due to extensions to the Ardeer Nobel factory. The work on the new holes was carried out by Mr John R Stutt, Potterhill who was assisted by local staff under the supervision of William Latto. The fairways were “a bit rough but given time and favourable weather conditions should improve” The length of the redesigned course was 5,931 yards. Mr Jon McIlwrick, an enthusiastic member of the committee, presented guide posts and new flag sticks for the greens along with tee markers showing the distance, bogey and names of the holes.
Result of the January 1935 stroke competition; first class – Adam Donnachie, 79-9-70; J D Frew, 75-3-72; J C Robertson, 75-2-73; William Ness, 87-11-76; A Donnachie, 80-3-77; J Lyon, 88-11-77; second class – Tom Norwood, 89-19-70; William Main, 86-14-72; Tom Hamilton, 90-15-75; A Connelly, 91-15-76; E H Norwood, 90-13-77; J Barbour, 95-16-79. Result of a mid-week medal also played in January; James Ross, 83-11-72; Hugh Gill, 80-4-76; A Woodside, 90-11-79; J D Frew, 83-3-80.
Result of the March 1935 stroke competition; first class – H Cambridge, 73-2-71; J H Norwood, 76-3-73; Alex Donnachie, 73net; D Johnston, 82-9-73; M Clasper, 86-13-73; R Norwood, 90-16-74; T Hamilton, 89-12-77; J Patrick, 94-17-77.
Result from the spring meeting played in April 1935; first class – J Montgomery jnr, 75-3-72; A Fulton, 82-9-73; J R Peters, 81-7-74; J Donnachie, 83-5-78; second class – F Norwood, 85-12-73; J H Cook, 88-13-75; Tom Hamilton, 89-14-75; T C Hamilton, 92-17-75.
Stroke competition played in September 1935, result; first class – H Millar (7), 69; R Rodger (8), 70; W Millar (5), 71; second class – G S Goldie (18), 68; J H Cook (13), 69.
Result of competitions played in April 1938; midweek medal - C Lindsay (8 handicap), 73net; James Cowan (8), 74; Alex Ferguson (9), 75; Heys Medal – Wm McCartney (10), 72; H McInally (scratch), J Montgomery (2), E Norwood (4) all 75; A W Donnachie (3), J Cannon (3), J Bowie (6), Joseph Hamilton (7), A Small (8) all 77; Robertson Medal – Tom Gibson (13), H Gaw (16), T C Hamilton (17) tied on 72; W Dickie (15) and J Niven jnr (15), 73.
Result of the medal played in August 1938; first class – T Norwood (11), 69; J Simpson (5), 70; J Carson (2), 73; second class – W Dickie (15), 67; D G Mowat (13), 69; D Kirk (17) and T Sandford (18), 70.
Results from the autumn meeting played in September 1938; first class – J Cannon (2), T Gibson (7), A Small (8), 70; H Cambridge (2), 71; J Niven jnr (3), 72; second class – A C Murray (12), R (H) Norwood (12), 70; T Sandford (14), 72; J S Dunlop (24), 74.
Thanks to Gordon Craig for providing the annotated maps above.
In the early 1960s the club was dealt a severe blow, the landowners, Nobel ICI, decided it needed the land occupied by the clubhouse and course to build a new factory. The club had no alternative and had to search for a new home. The club moved to its present location in the mid 1960s.
A final sad note, Jamie Anderson the first professional at Ardeer and three time open champion ended his life in the Dysart Poorhouse, Thornton, Fife in 1905. He was buried in the graveyard at St Andrews Cathedral alongside one of his sons, who had died in 1863, Jamie Anderson’s name is not marked on the stone.
The Google Map below pinpoints the later of the two former courses.