1787 Glasgow Golf Club

Golf on Glasgow Green was first documented in 1721, in a poem indicating it was common for it to be played there.

Although the Glasgow Golf Club was not officially instituted until 1787,  when they played for a Silver Club, there is a note in the records of the Burgh of Glasgow in 1760 requesting permission by Patrick Bogle to build an extension to a 'lodge' which was clearly being used as a golf clubhouse on Glasgow Green, indicating a de facto club in operation, in much the same way as at Bruntsfield Links in Edinburgh a few decades earlier. 

23rd September 1760

Anent the Golf.  The which day.. a petition given in by Patrick Bogle of Hamilton's Farm for self and others who use the exercise of the golf, craving liberty on their expense to make an addition to the present lodge in the Green, on the east side thereof for their better accommodation.

The Bogles were a prominent Glasgow family and there is a family connection to the later Club. Two of Patrick Bogle's cousins, William Bogle Snr and William Bogle Jnr, were founding members in 1787. The 22 initial club members were wealthy Glaswegian landowners,  merchants and serving army officers. Most of the golfers also belonged to other clubs including the West India Club and Sugar Association.  Many had both town houses  and country estates and held prominent local positions of authority. Sadly William Bogle Jnr, who became a Lieutenant-Colonel, died on active service in the Napoleonic Wars.


Glasgow Green site of old golf course

The Club's first Captain was Captain James Clark of the 83rd Regiment, who won the first competition on 27th March 1787, thereby gaining the right to have his name inscribed on a silver ball attached to the Silver Club.  Glasgow's first silver club, made by William Cunningham silversmith in Edinburgh, has 24 silver balls attached with captains from 1787 to 1835.

The club struggled from 1794 at the onset of the Napoleonic Wars, which took many of its members away to fight, and Glasgow Green became crowded. The crowding was compounded by a municipal drainage scheme in 1813 that apparently made the area 'unpleasant'.

There was a temporary resuscitation of Glasgow Golf Club between 1809, when a new Minute book appears, and 1835.  At this point the club went into 'suspended animation,' as their historian puts it, with only two known meetings in 1848 and the 1860s.  It did not really revive until 1870, when fresh blood restarted the club at Queen's Park, after consulting with members of other golf clubs of the day. During these years the Glasgow members took care to recover and retain the Club's old memorabilia, including the silver club mentioned above.

Glasgow GC Killermont CH

When Queens Park in turn became too congested, the Club moved to Alexandra Park in 1874 and Blackhill Farm in 1895, before finally settling at its present location at Killermont in Bearsden in 1904.

The Killermont course was designed by Old Tom Morris from St Andrews. Although James Braid was later commissioned to improve the course, it is said that he did not make changes to the layout and that Tom Morris's original greens were preserved.

The Killermont clubhouse is a former stately home built in 1805. The club secured permanent tenure of the Killermont house and grounds in 1922.

Kilwinning Papingo COn 19th May 1892, prior to moving to Blackhill, the Glasgow Club members opened the Glasgow Gailes course at Irvine, to provide a coastal links better suited to play all the year round, including the winter season. There was an existing club connection to the area. Patrick Bogle and at least seven of the early club founders had been members of the masonic Glasgow Kilwinning Lodge, chartered by the ancient Kilwinning lodge before the Grand Lodge of Scotland was formed. Kilwinning, which is six miles away, is the site of the world's oldest archery competition, the Papingo Shoot, and there is a strong connection between archers and golfers in these early days.

Glasgow Gailes CH

Glasgow GC Gailes clubhouse and first hole

The current layout of the Gailes course is based on a design by Willie Park from 1912. It was purchased in 1924 from the Duke of Portland.

While the club was at Alexandra Park, on 27th March 1880, they initiated the Tennant Cup, which is still played and is probably the second oldest amateur stroke-play competition after the Standard Life medal at Leven. Today the initial qualifying rounds are at Glasgow Gailes with the final round at Killermont.

Further details are available from the official website of the Glasgow Golf Club, including how to play the Gailes course, which is an Open qualifier course.