1824 Royal Perth Golf Society County & City Club

First Royal Golf Club

Perth is the oldest golf site in the world. It was where the first named golfer in Scottish history, King James IV bought golf clubs from his ‘bower’ (bow maker) in 1502  Later mentions of golf being played there include James Gall in 1638 and James Cant's report that the inhabitants of Perth played golf for recreation in 1774. However, it was not until 1824 that the Perth Golfing Society was formed.

PerthJacobite01WWhen it happened, it was as distinguished an affair as at any other club. The first Captain was Sir David Moncreiffe, 6th Baronet (1788-1830) and the founding group met in the Salutation Inn, reputedly Scotland’s oldest hotel, ‘welcoming guests since 1699’. Bonnie Prince Charlie held meetings there during his doomed Jacobite rebellion in 1745.

The club adopted scarlet golfing jackets for matches which were initially played on one of two links - the South Inch or the North Inch. The first competition was on the South Inch over 16 holes and was won in 101 strokes by Sir David Moncrieffe. The Club produced several sets of rules including ones in 1825, 1839 and 1864. Today there is only the new course on North Inch, which has undergone many changes to its layout and design, lately as a result of flood prevention works.

In 1833, the Captain, Lord Kinnaird, solicited the royal accolade for the club from King William IV, which makes Royal Perth the first golf club to receive this honour. In the iconic painting “The Golfers” by William Lees which featured prominent golfers of the day, several Perth gentlemen are portrayed.

In the early years, the golfers used a hostelry known as the 'House on the Green', run by Kitty Reid. It was on the site of 3 Watergate, now converted to houses. This was equidistant from South and North Inch. In 1875 the present clubhouse was purchased with additional facilities added in 1896. These facilities attracted members from a wide area and so in 1878, they adopted their current title, The Royal Perth Golfing Society and County and City Club.

Like many clubs of this period they commissioned a silver club, to which silver golf balls were added with the name of the captain inscribed on them. The club reports that the oldest club, “dating to 1824 has 47 silver golf balls attached and is on loan to the British Golf Museum in St. Andrews where it is on permanent display except when returned for the annual Dinner in Perth.”

In 1998 they sold a rare metal-headed 18th century putter, made by Simon Cossar of Leith, for a then world record price of £106,000 to Senor Jaimie Ortiz-Patino for his Valderrama Golf Club collection. In 2012, it was put up for sale again, but the bidding stopped at £67,250. In 2000, the club commission a silver replica of the putter, which was much cheaper than the original was worth.

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Perth North Inch course, now under threat of closure