Langholm Golf Club has had a lot of ups and downs

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LANGHOLM Golf Club celebrates its 125th anniversary this year but, as with the game itself, its journey has not always gone smoothly.

Soon after it opened in 1892, the clubhouse had to be demolished after being built without permission and during World War Two the Army requisitioned the course. Membership has fluctuated over the decades and the course has had to be redesigned twice.

Langholm golf club was founded on October 13, 1892. The instigator and founder was Alex Scott, a member of the Scott of Erkinholme family.

He suggested that a Musselburgh professional, by the name of McEwan, give his opinion the most suitable land for a course. They were limited, of course, because farmland was at a premium, hence the choice of hilly land.

With the Crawsknowe fields selected, the final plan of the course was made by James Scott of Kilncleuch. Thomas Moses, a director of Boatford Mill. was the first club captain. Alex Scott was the first president.

On October 15 Alex Scott hit the first tee shot at the official opening. Subscriptions were 10 shillings and sixpence, half a guinea.

The club did not get off to a great start. The clubhouse had been built without the permission of the landowner, George Maxwell, and had to be demolished and the ground returned to grassland.

Another landowner Arthur Bell complained to the committee that golfers were setting fire to whins and heather to prevent them from losing golf balls. Nothing changes.

A new clubhouse was built in 1912 at the same time as the arrival of the rubber cored ball. Extensions were made to the course.

In the 1930s and early 1940s membership declined with figures down to 39 men and 29 women. An approach was made to the Town Council and the Scottish Golf Union for help to prevent the club going into administration.

No help was forthcoming but a public appeal raised more than £416 through donations.

In 1943 the course was requisitioned by the Army as a training area but members were allowed to play, subject to Army requirements.

The club's low point was in 1947 when it had a membership of 19 playing members. Thankfully, numbers improved and the club was able to buy the land for the sum of £500.

Another downward turn occurred in the 1960s when the club had to let the course for sheep grazing. In 1964 the club lost the legendary hill hole after a dispute with the owner.

This meant the course had to be redesigned and Ate Irving, four times club champion, took on the task. A new clubhouse was opened in 1982 with a further extension added later.

In 1985 Neil Stevenson, president, announced that the Crawsknowe fields and other land had been obtained. This needed another redesign which is the current course.

In 1992 the club celebrated its centenary and, while the course is the same, thanks must be given to the late Arthur Bell, not the same one who complained about the gorse.

The club members enjoyed the international success of two of its players in the late 1980s, early 1990s.

Craig Hislop played for Scotland boys against England, Ireland and Wales when he was reigning South of Scotland junior and youth champion and won the Dumfriesshire champion of champions competition aged 18. In 1991 he won the Scottish boys' golf championship.

Graham Davidson, son of centenary year captain, Irving, won the Border boys matchplay championship three times, the South of Scotland schools championship and the Border boys strokeplay championship.

He qualified twice to play in the final stages of the Daily Telegraph junior golfer of the year competition in Portugal, winning the title in 1991. He was selected to play in the Scotland boys team in 1991 and 1992.

As the book celebrating the club's centenary said: "Langholm golf club has indeed travelled hopefully . . . but its history has not been one of easy progress and golfing success stories. The story is rather one of a constant struggle to survive and the club's persistent desire to establish itself."

Wednesday, June 14, 2017 at 11:18AM
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