A History of Gairloch Golf Club

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In June 1898 a group of enthusiasts got together and decided to formalise the playing of golf on an area of seaside links between the Bank, the road and the beach, in order to form the present Gairloch Golf Club. The land was gifted to the club by Sir Kenneth S. MacKenzie of Gairloch who was then made Honorary President. The prime mover in the venture was Capt. A.M. Burgess acknowledged as the Founder of the club and the designer of the course as it then stood.

The first meeting was held on the course when eleven members were enrolled and the first committee comprising seven officers and members was formed. The main item of business was to agree the membership subscription set at 5/- for the season! Committee meetings were held on the course, weather permitting, the Smoke Room of the Hotel being used for longer meetings and in bad weather. Teething problems appear to have existed in these early days as committee members came and went frequently. On the course, fences and rabbit holes were a source of trouble! Permission had to be sought from the estate to erect stiles and fill in some of the rabbit holes.

Competitions took place regularly, prizes being donated by club members. The poor old Greens Committee came in for some heavy criticism periodically over the condition of the course. Improvements and the re-siting of some tees and greens were carried out by local contractors (no greenkeeper in those days)! The club didn't acquire a mower until January 1899, when every member was allocated a green to tend throughout the year. Not until January 1901 did the club decide to buy its own greenkeeping tools (a scythe, a spade and a brush)!

This fledgling club played its first match against another club in late 1899 when Ullapool Golf Club were its guests. 10/- was set aside to entertain the visitors in the Gairloch Hotel. At the A.G.M. of the club that year it was decided to reduce the membership subscription to 2s/6d in order to attract new members and to encourage existing members to pay up more readily.

In 1900 the club lost its then Secretary, a Mr Black, the local teacher, who went to serve "Queen and Country" in South Africa. Unfortunately no record is available to tell what happened to him. The course has been affected by three military campaigns, the Boer War, World War I and World War II. Interestingly, a legacy of the last two campaigns remains alongside the eighth tee in the form of target butts which can still be seen there.

Each era seems to throw up an enthusiastic energetic character who is able to encourage improvements within the club. In the early days this role was fulfilled by Capt. Burgess, then there was Alex MacDonald and Hugh (H.J.) Munro, men some older members will remember for their golf tuition whether wanted or not! Roddy MacIntyre was the Club Secretary for many years. Alistair Allan was the Estate Factor who combined the duties of President with those of greenkeeper. More recently when Harry Davis was club Captain he could often be found helping with the work on the course. These were all men of vision with the wish to see Gairloch Golf Club moving forward and continuing to grow.

Ties are still maintained with the Burgess family through Roy Burgess, grandson of Capt. Burgess; similarly, the connection with the MacKenzie of Gairloch family through the present Laird, Mr John MacKenzie, with whom the club enjoys a good relationship. The links forged by Capt. Burgess with the Bank of Scotland continue to this day.

Gairloch Golf Club has entertained many visitors over the years and managed to impress H.R.H. The Duke of York when he played here. He did not break the course record score. The current record was set by Mr Harry Rae in 2010 with a score of 61. Friendly rivalry has existed between the golf clubs of Lochcarron, Strathpeffer Spa, Ullapool and Gairloch for many years in the form of home and away matches. The support and friendship between these local clubs is much valued and long may it continue!

This article was kindly contributed by Mr Tony Shinkins.