Golf began at ‘Monktonhall’ in 1938 with famous players including Henry Cotton playing in an exhibition match. The site of the course was previously agricultural land and the brief to James Braid was to design a championship course. Braid’s response was “if you want a championship course you need length”. However, over the years, the course has evolved with new tees being introduced to ensure that the course is accessible for all standard of golfer. The introduction of the new championship tees for use in Open Qualifying and other regional events would though get the full approval of James Braid.
Some of the changes over the past 80 years have certainly been for the better. The original course had a medal tee at the second hole further back from where it is placed today and was played as a par 5. The fourth medal tee was quite near to where the new championship tee is situated but closer to the River Esk, while the ninth tee was even further back where there is now a lot of trees. The original 18th was a “brute” played to a green which is now on the practice ground.
The landscape of the original course was very open and during the mid-fifties a major tree planting project was started which continues to this day. There is no doubt that this has improved the quality of the course as it provides spectacular definition to a number of holes.
Many major tournaments have been held on this course – the Scottish Professional Championship was won in 1968 by Eric Brown and in 1989 by Ross Drummond who had a local member, Tommy Meek, on his bag for the week.
The Club has had the honour to host the Scottish Regional Qualifier for the Open from 2006 - 2010 and Final Qualifier 2013.
Perhaps the most important day in the club’s history was the Roosevelt Nine Nations tournament held on the Sunday preceding the 1972 Open at Muirfield. A galaxy of top professionals played that day including Tony Jacklin, Eric Brown, Dale Hayes, Christy O’Connor, Doug Sanders, Bob Charles and Mr Lu from Formosa. There was a notable incident at the ninth hole when Mr Lu hit his ‘wind assisted drive’ over the burn via the bridge! Allegedly, he was ‘raging’ at his caddie for not telling him there was a burn within range. The charity event finished in a tie for first place between Bruce Devlin and Tony Jacklin who returned scores of 67 in difficult windy conditions.
Well known players who learned to play the game here include the late Alex Hay, the former BBC Television commentator, Professional and Managing Director at Woburn for many years. Jackie Little who became Head Professional at Wentworth and more recently Vikki Laing who played in the Curtis Cup and is currently playing on the Ladies European Tour.
As the club approaches its centenary in just under 20 years we will continue to improve facilities for our members and visitors at ‘The Musselburgh Golf Club’.