1860 Perth North Inch

Course Start 1860
Initial Holes 12
Date 18 holes 1892
Course management Public, managed by Perth and Kinross Council
Home Clubs Royal Perth Golfing Society and County & City Club (1824)

The South Inch may have been the earlier of the two areas to be used for sporting events such as golf, horse racing and cock-fighting, but is hemmed in and golf is no longer played there. It was played from at least 1613 to 1845, when golf transferred entirely to the North Inch. In the 19th Century, the South Inch had 8 holes, later increased to 12 holes.

Records of prosecutions for Sunday golf in Perth include prosecutions for playing golf on North Inch in 1599 and again in 1604. In 1774, James Cant observed that both the North and South Inch, which lie to the north and south of Perth centre on the banks of the River Tay, were used by the good citizens of Perth in spring and autumn for exercise with ‘golf-clubs and balls'. However, it is unlikely that this is the area of present play, which starts at the north end of the old racecourse.

The North Inch had a sizeable racecourse, prominent on maps in 19th century and still visible in outline today. Golf was often played inside racecourses and still is at Musselburgh.

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North Inch - site of early holes now used for general recreation and cricket

In 1803, the course only had six holes, but these were on the southern part of the North Inch. “Beasley's World Atlas of Golf" asserts that these six holes are the first recognizable course in the world, though this is probably an erroneous conclusion from a combination of assumed facts. This area is no longer used for golf, only general recreation and cricket, which is considered to be more Perth's game than golf is.

When the Perth Golf Club was founded in 1824, mostly of county landowners and gentlemen, they played the North Inch. In 1858 the King James VI golf club was started by Rev Charles Robertson, also known as "gowfin' Charlie" to serve the needs of Perth denizens. 

In the early 1860's the North Inch was extended to 10 holes and in 1865 to 12 holes, and these extended the golfing ground further north over the current playing area. Over the centuries, the size and fortunes of the course waxed and waned.

In 1870 a 6-hole ladies' course was established just north of Balhousie Castle. This was lost to local gazing by cows and is now a built up area. Balhousie Castle is just beside the visitors’ centre, on the west of the course start, and currently houses the Black Watch regimental museum.

In 1892, ‘Muirton Field’, further to the north, was acquired from Lord Mansfield with money from a sponsor of the Perth Artisans Golf Club. This enabled six new holes to be laid out by Old Tom Morris, to bring the course to 18 holes. The first tee and home green were still at the south end of the racecourse.

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Perth North Inch Hole 3

Within a few years, in 1897, a local tenant claimed back some of the land, a common problem with leased land, and the course was foreshortened again to a basic course of six holes, which were supplemented in summer by an additional six holes on the ‘peninsula’ by permission of the Town Council. In the same year the King James VI Golf Club began playing the Moncrieffe course on the island, where it now resides. 

In 1927, after another gift of land, from John Dewar, allowed the North Inch course to became an 18-hole course again.

In the last decade, flood works have caused more disruption and the course is only just recently restored to its full 18 holes again, the local Council have tried recently to close the course to save money.