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Wemyss Golf Club, West Wemyss, Fife. (1857 - 1955)

The inauguration ceremony of the club took place on the 18th April 1857. According to the records of the minute book "some splendid shots" were made over the Glass Cove, which was once a familiar landmark on the Fife coast.

It's reputed that golf was being played at Wemyss much earlier than the foundation of the club in 1857. A report in the Fifeshire Advertiser in July 1907 states "Since the middle of the sixteenth century at least the royal and ancient game has been played at Wemyss and the unfortunate Queen Mary of Scots is credited with having defeated the ill-fated Darnley over the lovely links." 

The original course was situated on Wemyss Estate land along the shore east of Wemyss Castle, between the Glass Cove and the Lady Rock, a prominent rocky outcrop located at the head of the sea defences. It was opened in 1850, with records of a first competition in 1855. According to a local history booklet, by 1895 it had become overgrown, and subsequently lost much of its ground to the expanding Michael Colliery (operated by Wemyss Coal Co. Ltd., also owned by the Wemyss family) which was immediately adjacent. However, this chronology is clearly wrong, as the newspaper reports (below), records the club's spring meeting on the Wemyss Castle Links on 29 March 1902.  Nevertheless, the explanation for the closure of the course (expansion of the Michael Colliery) is no doubt the correct one. The course seems to have closed in 1903. There is no physical trace of the course today. Some of the ground is covered by the landscaping of the pit site and spoil heap (the pit closed in 1967), and the rest is heavily overgrown or has been lost to coastal erosion. The site is now traversed by the Fife Coastal Path, so access is very easy if you want to have a look for yourselves. 

In the summer of 1905, attempts were made to revive the club with Michael Wemyss (1889-1982), then the 16-year-old heir to the Wemyss Estate, as president. A new course was created further inland on Wemyss Estate on land between Coaltown of Wemyss and West Wemyss. This second course is the one shown on the Golfs Missing Links website.  The club folded and the course was closed in 1965, reverting to farmland. 

Below a report on the first competition in April 1857.

 

Wemyss Golf Club, West Wemyss, Fife. The first competition result from April 1857.

Caledonian Mercury Wednesday 22nd April 1857. Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

 

The following extract is from the Fife Herald dated Thursday 27th August 1857. "The Wemyss Golf Club met on Saturday the 22nd of August, to play for a number of prizes, partly presented by the club, and partly by others interested in that manly game, after a very keen contest, the prizes were awarded as follows; First, H E Wemyss Esq, Wemyss Castle – an iron (presumably a golf club), presented by Mr W P Burn, West Wemyss, and a number of balls from the club; Second, Mr Gilbert, Wemyss – a club, presented by Mr Malcolm, Innerleven, and a number of balls from the club; Third. Mr Malcolm, Innerleven – a club, presented by Mr Wilson, club-maker, St Andrews. Two prizes were also played for by the losing party, when, after an equally keen match of nearly two hours, the winners were; First, Mr William Johnstone, East Wemyss – an iron, presented by Mr Lumsden, West Wemyss; Second, Mr J G Robertson, East Wmyss – a number of balls, presented by the club. The day was fine, and the links were graced by a goodly assemblage of the fair sex, who evidently took a deep interest in the game."

Below is the result of a match played at Burntisland Golf Club on Monday 8th February 1869. The match was played on the former course of the Burntisland club and was the usual three rounds or fifteen holes, the match being decided by holes.  

Burntisland Golf Club   Wemyss Golf Club  
R Gordon 0 J Kilgour 5
A Stocks 0 J G Robertson 1
D Gordon 0 Sargeant Swanson 2
T Nicol 4 H J Johnston 0
W Cowan 1 R Burns 0
A Chalmers 9 J Williamson 0
J Smith 0 A Cameron 0
D Gilmour 0 J A Robertson 2
T Morris 10 George Burt 0
  24   10

Below competition result from September 1879.

 

Wemyss Golf Club, West Wemyss, Fife. Competition result from September 1879.

Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News Saturday 27th September 1879. Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

 

Wemyss Golf Club, West Wemyss, Fife. Entry from the Golfing Annual 1888/89.

The entry from the Golfing Annual 1888/89.

 

Result of a match played against Cupar at Hilltarvit on Saturday 30th June 1900. The course was in first-class condition for the keenly fought match. After the game the visitors were entertained to tea at the Station Hotel.

Cupar Golf Club   Wemyss Golf Club  
W J Honeyman 5 Dr Watson 0
D D Smith 3 F Welch 0
J Macpherson 0 W Salmond 3
J W Rattray 3 R Salmond 0
G Harris 3 A H Adamson 0
D F Erplin 0 R Leitch 1
J Honeyman 0 R Rumgay 5
W Galloway 0 D M Morgan 1
J Law 0 W Coventry 4
G Stanford 6 G Waddell 0
F J Smith 0 D Semple 4
J Mitchell 2 J Russell 0
  22   18

The club held its spring meeting over Wemyss Castle Links on Saturday 29th March 1902. The trophies competed for were the Challenge Handicap Cup and the Patroness’ Medal, a merit award which was presented to the club in the year of the Indian Mutiny (1857) by Mrs Erskine Wemyss wife of Mr Hay Erskine Wemyss the former Lord Lieutenant of Fife. Both prizes were won by Geo Young, East Wemyss, scores; Patroness’ Medal, scratch competition, George Young, 96; William Morris, 97; Forbes Welsh, 98; Robert Salmond senior, 99; William Salmond, 99; Challenge Cup, handicap competition, Geo Young 96-8-88; Wm Morris, 97-8-89; Alex Salmond, 100-8-92; Robert Salmond sen, 99-6-93; A H Adamson, 100-6-94; D M Morgan, 103-8-95; Forbes Welsh, 98-2-96; Robert Rumgay, 102-6-96; Wm Salmond, 99-2-97.

In about 1903, for, as yet, some unknown reason, the club and course closed. Then, in July 1906, after a period of about three years the club was resuscitated. The competition for the Wemyss Castle Challenge Cup took place in July 1906, following are the leading scores; George Dall, 93-7-86; David Bennett, 89 scratch; Tom C Wilson, 90 scratch; James Coventry, 96-3-93; John G Davies, 107-10-97; J Andrew Black, 106-7-99; D Venters, 112-13-99.

The club would be celebrating its Golden Jubilee in April 1907.

Result of a match played in May 1910 against Leven Y.M.C.A.

Wemyss Golf Club   Leven Y.M.C.A. Golf Club  
T C Wilson 1 J L Ireland 0
J S Coventry 0 J Birrell 0
W Salmond 0 L Kerr 0
Rev. C D Low 1 J Herd 0
R K Sharp 0 J Guthrie 1
A Salmond 1 D R Baird 0
D Morgan 0 J McEwan 0
P Todd 1 W Charles 0
G Young 0 D Simpson 1
S Salmond 1 W More 0
D Venters 0 J H Scott 1
G Adamson 1 J Chalmers 0
R Wilson 1 J Cummings 0
D B Morris 1 J D Barron 0
  8   3

In 1914 the secretary was William Morris, Michael Place, East Wemyss. A 9 hole course with a season from April to September at this time. There was no entry fee. Subs were 5/-. Visitors’ fees were 3d a day, 1/- a week and 2/- a month. Sunday play was not allowed.

In 1923 the secretary was David Venters, St Marys Terrace, East Wemyss and the professional and greenkeeper Geo Hunter. Club membership was 80. Visitors’ fees 1/- a day and 4/6d a week.

In June 1926 John Adamson, Coaltown of Wemyss, holed in one at the 100 yard eighth.

Following is the result of the monthly Challenge Cup competition played in July 1929; John Venters, 74 scratch; T Scott, 83-8-75; E Lambert, 85-10-75; J C Rolland, 77 scratch; P Main, 79-2-77; T Warrender, 87-6-81; Geo Campbell, 86-4-82. 

The annual meeting of the Wemyss Golf Club ladies’ section was held in the Welfare Institute, Coaltown of Wemyss,  in November 1930 when the following office-bearers were elected; Patroness, Lady Victoria Wemyss; president, Miss Keir; vice-president, Miss Bryce; captain, Miss Howieson; vice-captain, Mrs Prown; secretary and treasurer, Miss Healley; committee – Misses A Thomson, H Adamson, A Anderson, R Flockhart, A Morgan, D Spence and C Veitch.

Below is the result of a match played at Wemyss against Auchterderran Golf Club in June 1938. 

Wemyss Golf Club   Auchterderran Golf Club  
W Wilson & J Venters 1 G Dodds & M Burt 0
D Rodger & D Ormiston (half) 0 G Farmer & J Swan (half) 0
A Anderson & R Black 1 J Nesbit & R Lamb 0
R Murray & D Lister 1 D Lamb & W Fagan 0
C Mathieson & A Scott 0 D Reid & M Laughton 1
J Christie & J Venters 1 J Spence & W Cook 0
C McDiarmid & D Gray 1 R Patterson & R Buchan 0
  5   1

In July 1938 the Wemyss Golf Club Challenge Cup was won by David Ogilvie with a nett 67. Leading scores; David Ogilvie, 87-20-67; David Gray, 86-18-68; T Scott, 80-12-68; T Walsh, 83-13-70; A Salmon, 86-16-70; Chas Mathieson, 82-12-70; A Cormie, 87-16-71; D Rodger, 77-6-71; J Kilpatrick, 85-12-73; W White, 89-16-73; J Coventry, 83-9-74; W McLean, 93-18-75.

In the final of the Burns Medal in July 1938 John Auld beat M Struthers by 3&2. 

The following players qualified for the first round of the Kilgour Medal in May 1940; John Nicol, 64; D Anderson, 66; P Wynne, 68; D Gray, 71; A Crombie, 71; A Scott, 72; J Brown, 72; D Lister, 72; P Walsh, 74; J Walsh, 74; J Venters, 75; Colin McDiarmid, 75; J Kilpatrick, 75, William Bolden, 77; John Dryburgh, 77; A Anderson, 78.

Leading scores in the August 1940 monthly medal; Alex Scott, 67; A Comrie, 74; D Gray, 76; D McKenzie, 77.

In the mid 1930s and during WW2 the secretary was Colin S McDiarmid, 29 Omar Crescent, Buckhaven and the green-keeper John Ormiston. Membership during this period was 250. Visitors’ fees were now 1/- a day, 2/6d Sundays, 4/- a week, 7/6d a fortnight and 10/- a month. There were stations at West Wemyss or Wemyss Castle 1 mile away.

The course closes for the duration of the war February 1942.

 

Wemyss Golf Club, West Wemyss, Fife. The course closes for the duration of WW2.

Fife Free Press & Kirkaldy Guardian Saturday 28th February 1942. Image © Johnston Press plc. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

 

It was reported in April 1947 that a general meeting was to be held in the Miners' Welfare Institute on Sunday 27th April 1947 at 3pm to discuss the layout of a temporary course; Colin S McDiarmid, secretary.

The new course in October 1947.

 

Wemyss Golf Club, West Wemyss, Fife. The new course in October 1947.

Fifeshire Advertiser Saturday 11th October 1947.

 

The golf course at Hugo was opened on Saturday 15th May 1948. The activities of the club were revived after a lapse of several years with the opening of the reconstructed course on the south side of Coaltown of Wemyss in place of the original course which was ploughed up for the war effort.

Results of the first competitions played on the new course in August 1948. Mixed foursome; winners, Miss Burnett and T Christie; runners-up, Miss Aitken and W Weir; handicap competition - D Taylor, 74.

Result of the monthly cup competition August 1949; W McBeath, 70; H Christie, 73; Jack Venters, 74; B Wilkie, 75; D Rodger, 76; J Kilpatrick and J Wilkie, 78; J Kinninmonth, 80; W Rintoul, 82.

In September 1953 James Wallace and Jack Burt tied for first place in the monthly competition.

It was reported that a Special General Meeting would be held at 3pm on Sunday July 11th 1954, all members were asked to attend. Business - Closure of Club - Hon. Secretary, Jack Venters.

Report from the Fifeshire Advertiser 17th July 1954 - "Financial difficulties are likely to force Wemyss Golf Club, whose centenary would have been next year, to disband. At one time Wemyss could boast one of the finest nine-hole golf clubs in the county but in its present situation the course has never proved over popular. It was originally sited at the shore, near the castle, and then moved to the fields near the present football pitch for its most popular period. Patron of the club is Captain Michael Wemyss and patroness Lady Victoria Wemyss." 

 

Wemyss Golf Club, Fife. Course location in 1914.

The above map shows the course marked (centre) to the north east of the castle. Reproduced from the {1914} Ordnance Survey Map.

 

Wemyss Golf Club, Fife. Golf course location in the 1920s.

Location of the Wemyss course in the mid 1920s. Grid reference NT32455,95085, co-ordinates 332455,695085.