1876 Aberdeen Links - Kings Links

Course Start 1872 (1625)
Initial Holes 7
Date 18 holes 1876
Course management

Kings Links public course managed by Aberdeen City Council

Home Clubs Bon Accord Golf Club (1872)

Early mentions of golf in Aberdeen may to relate to target golf, but in 1625 that there is a reference to ‘the first hole and the Quenis hole', presumed to be golf holes, later clarified in a local publication. It is not until 1661 that golf on the town links is described, though they had been in general leisure use since at least 1575.

There is no record of the number of the early holes, but the Aberdeen Golf Club laid out a proper course in August 1780 for their inaugural September meeting to avoid 'disagreeable Interferences', implying that play up to that point was somewhat haphazard. The holes were apparently marked by stones, which were soon vandalised. This is the first record of a golf course being laid out, and only the second place where we know there was a defined course layout. The holes were at the south end of Aberdeen Links, probably inside the racecourse seen on the 1888 plan below, which later formed the first four holes and last two holes of later courses.

Aberdeen Links 1876 Text

Until 1852, there were no more than seven holes over the Queens Links and Broad Hill with the course going just over the road that skirts Broad Hill, short of the present driving range. In stroke competitions, the Aberdeen golfers played two rounds of 14 holes, with scores which indicated an average of 6 strokes per hole and thus a substantial course. As far as can be determined, none of this ground is still being played today.

The golfers kept their clubs at Munro’s shop, in King Street, near Princes Street. They use the modern day Constitution Street, which runs from Park Street to Broad Hill, to access the Links. The first clubhouse in 1866 was at the top of Constitution Street, which can be seen on the 1888 plan, near the 18th hole beside Broad Hill. It is now a house.

An early greenkeeper, nicknamed Gurkie, is mentioned in the minutes as are ‘flag-boys’ on medal days who would carry flags to mark the holes. They would also serve as forecaddies. There is an intriguing written note in 1849 for the purchase of a ‘new turf cutting machine for making golf holes’ from Allan Robertson of St Andrews for 6s. 2d., (6 shillings and 2 pence) including 1s. 8d. carriage (delivery). This is 20 years after Musselburgh bought their hole cutter from the local blacksmith, Robert Day.

In early November 1852, Willie Park from Musselburgh created some new and ‘hazardous’ holes which increased the total number to 12 holes. Willie Dunn undertook further redesign four years later.

In 1865, the southern-most hole was lost to build a wood store.  From 1866 the Silver Medal was played over 2 rounds of 14 holes and from then until 1873, the course was 14 holes, though the extent of play is not known.

Aberdeen Kings Links Broad Hill

Aberdeen King's Links from Broad Hill

In 1872, the course was extended northward to the area which forms the south of the present day Kings Links, when 14 holes were laid out. Of these the northern-most hole was the Valley Hole. In 1873, another hole was added and finally in 1876 an 18-hole course was laid out, on which the Valley hole can be identified as hole 11. This means that there are at least 8 holes on the Kings Links course or driving range, which have probably been played since 1866, but certainly since 1872.

In 1872, the Bon Accord Golf Club was formed and still plays on the Kings Links. The Aberdeen Golf Club became the Royal Aberdeen Golf Club and in 1888 they moved to the links at Balgownie at Bridge of Don, because of crowding on Aberdeen Links.


King Links, looking toward old Aberdeen Links of Queens Links (left) and Broad Hill (right)

Later, the Queens Links and Broad Hill was abandoned and the course migrated north to its present site. The southern part of Queens’s Links has been built over but Broad Hill is largely unchanged can be walked.