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Coldingham & St Abb's Golf Club, Scottish Borders.

There were two courses in Coldingham; one located near Coldingham Loch and the other on St Abb’s Head near Mire Loch. 

Founded about 1885, the St Abb’s course was mostly played as a summer holiday course. The club survived WW1 when it was mostly commandeered by the Royal Garrison Artillery, it did appear following WW2. Ben Sayers, of North Berwick, was an advisor to the club on occasions from 1910. Along with many other clubs of the time finances regularly needed to be raised. A Golf Bazaar was held at this club in 1913 when 1,000 copies of a now very rare collectable Guide to the District were available. The guide included the only known plan of an often changed course. I would like to thank Robin Morris for this contribution. 

On Thursday 9th August 1894 a club match was played between St Abbs and Eyemouth on the St Abbs course, the match ended all square. 

More information regarding the “Golf Bazaar” can be seen below.

The following are extracts from a report that appeared in the Berwickshire News & General Advertiser Tuesday August 12th 1913. Images © Johnston Press plc. Images created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

 

Coldingham & St Abb's Golf Club, Scottish Borders. Article from Berwickshire News 12th August 1913.

 

Coldingham & St Abb's Golf Club, Scottish Borders. Article from Berwickshire News 12th August 1913.

 

Coldingham & St Abb's Golf Club, Scottish Borders. Article from Berwickshire News 12th August 1913.

 

Following is a further extract from the report – “It was to make these improvements, some of which are detailed below, and to provide an up-to-date and well-equiped clubhouse that a two’ days bazaar was held last week.

THE COURSE DESCRIBED - Mr Raleigh Simpson, brother of Miss S B Simpson, Bonardub, thus describes the golf course in the Golf Bazaar Guide to the district – The opening stroke tests the player at the very outset of the round. With face turned towards St Abbs he finds himself confronted by a steep hill, beyond which the first green awaits his arrival with indifference..... Even the unfortunate player who has fared ignobly at the start may drive from the second tee in expectation of better things. His optimistic view may be strengthened by the fact that this time the land goes downhill, and the green is within accessigle range...At the third and longest hole the pilgrim’s progress takes an inland turn. Here the ground is rather unsatisfactory being bare and shrewn with stones...The ninth-hole, which runs in a parallel direction on the homeward route, has the same problems. Meanwhile a local rule, which takes account the frailty of mankind and of mankind’s weapons of wood and iron, allows the ball to be teed without penalty at any place in this ill-starred field. Patience, however, and drastic dealing with the stones will find their reward. At the next hole the turf improves greatly, forming part of the old soil which has clothed the summit for centuries. It would be advantageous to cut the grass for a space in front of the putting-green as the ball off an approach is apt to alight heavily upon the sofr ground. Although shorter and less steep than the first hole, the fifth partakes somewhat of its character. Woe-betide the player whose ball flies past the mark into a deep valley beyond! Apart from a mild gulley, which should be crossed with the drive, the road winds uphill to the sixth hole, lying on a very ticklish slope, and easily overshot...To the next tee the direction is downhill. The green lies within easy reach, if one does not attempt to look at the ball and the loch on the right simultaneously. The next hole, the eighth in number, is the best. With rough country on both sides and only a narrow strip of good earth in the middle way, the player has to drive with accuracy, if he covets piece of mind. Nevertheless, it might not be a mistake to bring the teeing stance slightly forward. This change would scarcely affect the approach, which is a sporting one to an invisible green on a table-land...Before he plays his last stroke, the present scribe may be allowed to set forth a suggestion and a hope. The suggestion, humbly offered, is that certain of the putting-greens, for example the third, should be enlarged and that the wires surrounding them should have a wider circumference, and also that posts should be less substantial. The hope is that the Bazaar will meet with the success which the laudable effort to supply funds for a new clubhouse deserves.

The present officials of the Coldingham & St Abb’s Golf Club are; President, Dr Sym; Joint Secretaries – Rev. H M Lamont and Mr T C Dickson; Treasurer – Rev. Hugh Shields; Committee – Rev. J T Dean, Dr Calder, Jas. French, Thomas Robertson, A Chisolm, William Craig.   

GOLF IN LOCAL HISTORY – Rev. H M Lamont, who presided, said – the work of today begins with £243 to the good. Would you allow me just for a minute or two to give you a little bit of local history. It is now 30 years ago since the late Sir Andrew Usher, who took a very warm and practical history in the affair of St Abbs, laid out a nine-hole golf course on the Loch Hills. For 25 years there was play on that course. There was, to begin with, a small flourishing club composed chiefly of visitors who came here year after year, but as time passed on, these visitors one by one ceased to come to the district, with the result that the little club was reduced to one, who some years ago passed away, but whose memory for many reasons will always be respected and is still respected in this district – I refer to the late (Mr Davidson)*, of The Hill. When I came here I joined the Golf Club, and I used to say, and it was a substantially accurate statement that (Mr Dawson)* was the President, Secretary and Treasurer of the club, and I was the member (Laughter). Many a competition, many a club meeting the two of us had on the Loch Hills, and it was a rather melancholy moment for me when the President said that he felt no longer able to play golf, and must ask me to take over the books of the club. I did so, but I did not feel at all disposed to move myself to be President of the club. I thought the time had come when local interest in golf should be stimulated, and accordingly I took steps to call a public meeting. Both at St Abbs and Coldingham, we had meetings. Mr & Mrs Burn Murdoch kindly stepped into our negotiations and said they thought it was in the interers of all those concerned that a new course should be laid out more accessible to both parishes, as this old course was about two miles from both Coldingham and St Abbs. With great kindness and generosity they laid out this new course, and the duty has been laid upon this community to improve that course, and to maintain it. That explains the object of our bazaar. I have now the great pleasure of introducing to you Sir George Watt, and in doing so I would like to acknowledge the kindness and willingness to help which prompted him to come here this afternoon.”   

*It’s infuriating that there is obviously an error in the report regarding the name of (Mr Davidson) of (Mr Dawson) of The Hill. In fact it mentions Dr McDougall as being President of the earlier club in the top report above. If anyone could help regarding the name of the President it would be much appreciated.   

 

Coldingham & St Abb's Golf Club, Scottish Borders. Article from Berwickshire News 12th August 1913.

From the Berwickshire News & General Advertiser Tuesday August 12th 1913. Images © Johnston Press plc. Images created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

 

The November 1914 monthly medal at the St Abb’s & Coldingham club was won by Mr C McCallum with a score of 100-5-95. In the same month, playing round with James French, William Nisbet, the professional, went round in 35, a course record. Newcastle Journal 17 Nov 1914. 

The funds for the clubhouse in the picture below were raised at the bazaar in 1913. Among the people in the image are the Kilpatrick family who ran the Anchor Inn in Coldingham. The former “clubhouse” is now used as a beach hut on Coldingham Bay beach. (information from Robin Morris) 

 

 

Coldingham and St Abbs Golf Club. Clubhouse and golfers.

A group of Coldingham golfers in front of a clubhouse, but which course is this? Picture courtesy of Jim Martin.

 

Coldingham and St Abbs Golf Club. Course location.

Above is the location of the course at Coldingham Loch (Mire Loch shown to the east on St Abb’s Head.)

 

Coldingham and St Abbs Golf Club. 1908 O.S map showing course.

The above 1908 O.S map shows the Coldingham Loch course marked in the centre and to the west. This course was still appearing in the 1950s.