The History

1828 - 1899

In 1882, however, after a Committee of four had been appointed to revise the Laws of the Club, four members “who are in custom of playing” were added to “revise the Rules of the Green and other regulations”. At an earlier meeting there is a decision that “…. the Ball must be played wherever it lies without any break-club or obstruction being removed….” and Sergeant Scott is directed to “pay more attention to forming the holes and that he be occasionally on the Links when matches are played”. The secretary was authorised to pay Robert Gay’s account for the instrument for forming holes. It was agreed “that the Club shall meet on the Links at one o’clock as at present and that the Members shall attend in the In at half past four for the despatch of business….” The secretary was also instructed to “invite the Magistrates and Treasurer of the Burgh to dine with Club on the day the Cup is played for.

In 1830 there were appointed the first Council members, three in number, and the first Inter-Club Match was played, six-a-side, against Bruntsfield Links Golfing Society, who won the first encounter on October 15th by three holes, but lost the return game on on November 5th by one hole. The following year the regular meetings of the Club were reduced to four, the second Friday of April, July, October and January, with the first Friday of every month being a Club Day for playing without and meeting for business. A second Medal Competition was instituted, the winner to receive a Silver Medal, the cost of which was to be £1, this to include engraving; the first winner was Mr. Wilson, Surgeon, with scores of 38 and 42 for the two rounds of seven holes. In 1832 the course was increased to eight holes and a stern intimation was given that no one was to alter the arrangement or position of the holes without the authority of the Golf Club Council; a copy of all the Club Regulations was to be hung up at the stand. Two years later “regulations for playing the game” were again revised and published and now permission was given for the removal of loose articles upon the “fair green or putting ground”; should the ball be under ice or water or in a hole where the club could not reach it (at least three inches in depth and not more than twelve inches in diameter) it could be lifted under penalty of one stroke, dropped behind and then had to be played with an Iron. The list of members was also revised, showing 61 Ordinary Members and 17 Honorary Members, quite an increase from the earlier normal membership of around thirty to forty. Not that this meant greater competition for the Silver Cup, the number turning up ranging from two – six; after some annual moves to improve matters it was finally agreed in Council in 1843 “that the Medal to be attached to the Cup should be in future at the expense of the Club in place of the party gaining it is hitherto and to counter-balance this expense that in place of two pounds being allowed to the Dinner Bill at each Meeting only one pound should be allowed”.

Once again the Club appears to be declining, two meetings only per year from 1838 to 1844, one in 1845, none in 1846, two in 1847, none till 1852 and then final gap from 1859 to 1869; membership was decreasing, 38 in 1847, and attendance at meetings varied from four to fourteen. Even so in 1857 the Club was represented at the National Golf Tournament, paying its £4 Entry Fee (a large sum in those days) and sending the names of its representatives, Mr. R.G. Chambers and Mr. Marjoribanks, to the Union Club House St. Andrews. They returned the very creditable score of 92.

The year of the resumption of the Club, 1870, was certainly an active one; fourteen Committee meetings were held, at the first of which, 12th March, 17 members proposed, seconded and elected and a Committee of Management appointed: Captain, Secretary, Treasurer and three others. Later Sir Arch. Hope, Bt. agreed to his re-election as President. Subscription was fixed at £1-1-0; with Entry Fee also £1-1-0; the West Room of the Stand at the Links was hired from Mr. Mackenzie, he to act as Officer at a salary of £10-0-0 per year and also to be Club Master with full control over all drink put into the Club premises for use of members alone (Whisky 4d. per glass, Sherry and Port 6d., Brandy 8d. and all Beers 3d. a pint). A new Code of Laws was presented and finally approved on 15th October, the Creen Laws being passed four months later. At the October Meeting the Office Bearers and a Council of four were appointed and the Silver Cup Winner was the guest of the Club at the Dinner Following the Business Meeting.

The spirit of the Club was certainly high for in November was discussed for the first time a proposal to build a Clubhouse, the site to be on the North side of the Honourable Company’s House. Later the Council agreed “to confer with Mr. Mann, Captain of the Burgess Club, as to the practicability of a Union of the Burgess and Musselburgh Clubs”. A special meeting resolved “that the Burges Club be admitted to the Musselburgh Club…. with the proviso that the name of the Musselburgh Club remained unaltered”. This does not seem to be the warm hand of friendship, and it is no surprise that seven weeks later the answer was that the Burgess Club “resolved not to carry out the amalgamation scheme in the meantime as it was considered undesirable to sink the name of their Club entirely”.

This was the period when sport came to the fore; international rugby and football matches began and their Unions and Associations were formed. Golf shred in this athletic upsurge and membership of the Club rose rapidly, the total of 87 being declared at the October ’71 A.G.M. The building of the Clubhouse proceeded rapidly and interest in the playing of the game becomes much more apparent; handicaps are mentioned, the Council are requested that players during the summer months have equal advantages with those during autumn months, and players in medal competitions must be accompanied by another member, with non-players in attendance as markers. Four new prizes appear from Medal Play, McKinlay Cup, Colonial (Clark ’74/’75) Medal, Silver Putter and the Gold (Inches) Medal, the first three remaining the property of the Club, won by R. Pringle (161) with old Willie Park coming in fifth (164).

HRH the Duke of Connaught

HRH the Duke of Connaught

In 1876 H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught graciously consented to become Hon. President of the Club, a position which he held until his death in 1942; his son, H.R.H. Prince Arthur, was Hon. Vice-President from 1912 until his death in 1938. The Club had the title of Royal added to its name and 21 years later the Connaught Cup was handed over to the Club President, General Sir Wm. Hope, a ceremony at which there was also present his Imperial Highness The Grand Duke Michael of Russia, who had previously been elected as Honorary Member. With the added interest in playing,”the management of the green” became much more vital and in 1877 at a meeting of the four famous Clubs, Honourable Company, Burgess, Bruntsfield and Royal Musselburgh it was agreed that there should be a Green Committee with full control, each club to have two representatives and to contribute according to membership, the end of the hundred years’ control by the Musselburgh G.C.

The Club now decided to have Monthly Competitions, prizes to be a dozen golf balls (six if fewer than six players), starting at 2:00pm on the first Thursday of each month but at 5:00pm in May, June, July and August. Some members were so keen on the game that a letter of apology had to be sent to the Burgess G.S. on behalf of some R.M.G.C. members playing on the course during their (Burgess) competition. In 1885 revised Rules of the Game were brought out in book form, the same year which saw the first of the Club matches against Edinburgh Burgess G.S., which they won by thirteen holes; later, in 1899, a special trophy for this annual match was presented jointly by the Captains of the Club, Mr. Purves and Mr. Young, a trophy still played for in annual competition. In that same year there was introduced a Handicap Tournament by Holes and in 1895 the Menzies Cup was presented to the Winner; in 1926 this was replaced by the Powell Cup; the Menzies Cup the becoming the 1st. Handicap award for the Spring Meeting a change which now seems to have been quite unnecessary, if not against the original wishes of the donors.

Membership of the Club was now over the hundred mark but in 1893 the appearance of 40 balls in the Ballot Box when only 34 members were present led to a split in the Club. At a special General Meeting the Club was dissolved and immediately reformed with no change in Office Bearers. Those who resigned formed the Musselburgh New Club, but not for long, for the two Clubs amalgamated in 1909.

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