1846 Leven Links 1868 Leven and Lundin Links

Course Start 1846
Initial Holes 9
Date 18 holes 1868 (Split in 1909)
Course management

Part Public course managed by Leven Links

and part owned and managed by Lundin Golf Club.

Home Clubs (Leven) Leven Golfing Society (1820/1846)
Leven Thistle Golf Club (1867)
          (Lundin) Lundin Golf Club (1868)

The first noted mention of golf in the area is in the Parish of Wemyss in 1748 when the unfortunate Mr James Grubb was hit on the knee by a golf ball and complications which this created caused him to lose his leg, but we do not know where the incident took place.

It is believed that golf had been played on Leven Links for a many years before Matthew Elder presented the Leven Golf Club with an inscribed silver medal on 20th March 1847, considered the beginning of the club. There are references to golf being played over three holes between the windmill of the salt works and the mouth of Scoonie Burn in the early 1800s. There is now a Scoonie golf course, beside the Scoonie burn north of the Leven Links.

In any case, immediately prior to the minute of the formal club beginning there is a note headed

LEVEN GOLFING CLUB Instituted April 22nd 1846

Play at the time was on land to the east of the town owned by Mr R Maitland Christie of Durie and leased to Mr Thompson of Scoonie Farm as grazing ground. In these days the club had no rights to the ground, only the right to “play over the links.” It is still the ground played today.

The course was initially nine holes to the ‘Mile Dyke’ and the work to construct it was undertaken by the Leven members. In 1865, the club asked Old Tom Morris to advise on the positioning of bunkers.

Leven GS 01W

Leven Links 18th green with opening hole behind

In 1867 or so, Innerleven decided to leave their first course Dubbieside and play at Leven. Innerleven made a contribution to Leven Golf Club of £10 in recognition of the work the Leven members had done, as “they had brought the Links into fine condition.”

Leven Thistle Golf Club was formed in 1867 as an artisan club and while it may only have had a few dozen local members, it attracted golfers from a wide area and over the next thirty years the roll increased to 600 members, making it one of the strongest clubs in Scotland.

When Lundin Mill Golf Club was formed in 1868 the 9 holes of Leven were extended to 18 to take in the coastal area east of the Mile Dyke up to the sand dunes of Lundin Links. This land was owned by John Gilmour of Montrave (later Sir John Gilmour and future Captain of The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews). Old Tom Morris made another visit, believed to be to advise on the links extension, and for this work he was paid £1 1s (1 pound and 1 shilling) plus expenses of 10/6 (10 shillings and 6 pennies). There were two starting points. Leven members started in the west and Lundin members from the east.

Lundin Links 007W

Lundin Links looking back to Leven

The opening of the full 18 holes was marked by a 36-hole match on October 2, 1868, which Young Tom Morris won with a score of 170; his father returned 189 strokes. The course over which they played is probably the first modern golf course as we understand it in that it had 18 fairways and 18 greens. St Andrews at this time had double greens and common fairways and although Montrose had 18 holes and played them in medals, it would not be until 1888 that they had a defined 18-hole course.

The first captain of the Lundin Golf Club was Mr Rintoull of Lahill who had been the immediate Past Captain of the Innerleven Club and influential in the decision to abandon the Dubbieside Links. Given the distances and travel facilities of the time, the new course would have been much more convenient for him as it was half the distance of going to Dubbieside from his estate.

At this time four clubs were playing over the same ground, Innerleven 1820, Leven Golfing Club 1846, Leven Thistle 1867 and Lundin Mill 1868. The running of the links gradually fell to Innerleven as Leven Golfing Club had suffered, especially between 1884-1909 from both the formation of Leven Thistle and the arrival of Innerleven from Dubbieside. Lundin Mill also struggled from 1877-1889. Effectively no club activities were taking place, though Leven made payment to make sure their rights of play on the links were preserved.

In July, 1870, the Standard Assurance Company (now Standard Life), who were at the time the owners of the course, presented the Innerleven Golf Club with an 'Amateur Champion Medal' to be played for by the members of the Leven clubs and such others as they invited from other clubs, but excluding golf club-makers and professionals. This soon became an established fixture on the golfing calendar, with entrants coming from all over the UK and abroad. It is therefore believed to be the oldest open amateur stroke play competition in the world. Today it is a 72-hole tournament, with a 36-hole cut for the top 40.

Lundin revived strongly from 1889. It soon had four times as many members as Leven and built a clubhouse in 1896. In 1908, Lundin took sole occupancy the Links east of the Mile Dyke.

Leven Golf Club initiated a revival in April 1909, but, this was not without opposition from Innerleven and Leven Thistle.

Shortly afterward, the course was divided at the Mile Dyke, the original boundary of the 1846 Leven course. Lundin Golf Club took the east section of the old course and the old Ladies course to create a new 18 holes course. They rented more land north of the (then) railway line and arranged for a new ladies course. James Braid was involved in the design of both the new Lundin course and the new Lundin Ladies course, greatly adding to their prestige.

Lundin Links Hole 13 W

Lundin Links Hole 13 extended course 1909

The Leven clubs took over the football grounds, north of the bowling green to extend their half of the course to 18 holes.

Annually the Leven and Lundin clubs recreate the Macdonald Trophy course playing over the ground of the 1868 course. To play this on other days necessitates playing both Leven course and the Lundin course. The table below shows the original Leven/Lundin Links and how the modern Macdonald Trophy course is played today.

Leven / Lundin Course 1868Macdonald Trophy Course
1   Table Leven 1 Table
2   Howe Leven 2 Knowe
3   South Seg Leven 3 Bents
4   Dyke Leven 4 Sea
5   Signal Leven 5 Valley
6   Knox Lundin 15 Heather
7   North Sunnybraes Lundin 16 Trows
8   Station Lundin 17 Station
9   Lundin Lundin 18 Home
10 High Hole Lundin 1 High
11 South Sunnybraes Lundin 2 Quarry
12 Trows Lundin 3 Bents
13 Sea Lundin 4 Mile Dyke
14 Silverburn Lundin 5 Silverburn
15 North Seg Leven 13 Seg
16 Dyke Neuk Leven 14 Dykeneuk
17 Railway Leven 15 Railway
18 Scoonie Leven 16/18 Scoonie

Lundin Golf Club were fortunate to be able to buy their course and clubhouse from the Montrave estate in 1951, and the railway land in 1971.

Innerleven amalgamated with Leven Golf Club to form the Leven Golfing Society on 1st September 1, 1957, using the Innerleven clubhouse. The Leven Golfing Society  are still there today in the old Innerleven clubhouse. Leven Thistle Golf Club have their clubhouse just over the road. The two clubs form a joint committee to run the Leven Links.