The History

1900 -

In the year of the split the Club Colours were officially announced as Scarlet coat and Yellow facings, later to be changed to Green facings, an outfit which continued to be worn until before the World War of 1939 – 1945, after which dress regulation ceased to be so obligatory and more acceptable.

Special competitions over other courses now (1894) began to be held and there is a pleasing record of one held at Gullane, when “the return journey was accomplished in safety, all being in the best of spirits….”. The number of trophies was increasing and in the new Constitution and Rules of January 1896 it was laid down that the Silver Cup and Colonial Medal be played for annually in October, The Gray Medal in January, the McKinlay Cup and Handicap Gold Medal in April, the Bowlers’ Bowl and Purves Putter in June, and the Menzies Cup for the Hole and Hole Tournament. The Spring, Autumn and Winter Meetings were to be held over the Links, the Summer venue being at the discretion of the Council.

1897, the year of the Connaught Cup, also saw the presentation of the Powell Cup for the Winter Meeting. A Foursomes Tournament proved very successful and it was agreed to hold it annually. The Club, along with the Town Council, was still involved with management of the Links and Tournaments, also arranging special games, e.g. Wm. Park Jr. v. J. H. Taylor on 16 June, ’96 and v. Wm. Fernie on 16 May, ’98, the Midlothian Golf Championship, and in conjunction with the Dundee Evening Telegraph the Amateur Championship of Scotland. A sign of the times is the decision in the minutes that amateurs who entered for the Midlothian Championship should be given the privileges of the Club; professionals were kept beyond the pale. Inter-Club matches were increasing, Irvine G.C., Honestas G.C., Seton Carew G.C. and Broomieknowe G.C. being added to the Bruntsfield and Burgess matches which were played already, and a week-end golfing tour in Northumberland was instituted. An interesting game took place in 1903, when R.M. and Burgess played a team of Fishermen Golfers from Inverallochy, Aberdeenshire.

So at the beginning of the twentieth century the Club was very soundly based, with golf now being the major interest, competition spurred on by the number of Club trophies (fourteen in 1910 compared with one for the first hundred years), the building of their own Clubhouse, and with a membership of approximately 120. Interest in golf relics begin to appear: Douglas McEwan presented the Club with the two oldest clubs in his possession (owned by King James II), an unused driver made by his uncle, Wm. McEwan, and a feather ball made by Douglas Gourlay: a gift of clubs belonging to A.G. Hunter, Captain of the Club in 1810, was received; Captain and Secretary each presented a feather ball made by Wm. Gourlay, as did J.M. Williamson (he had been defeated one hole, by F.G. Tait in the Open Amateur semi-final at Prestwick 1899), and the Secretary also donated a suitable case. In addition two Philp clubs were bought from Douglas McEwan for £2. in 1908 H.B. Wood presented a Hole Cutter with brass plate inscribed Musselburgh G.C. A.D. 1774. In the same year formal approval was given of the amalgamation with the New Club (Musselburgh), and J.F. Mitchell won the Irish Open Championship Cup.

The Club kept going during the 1914 – 1918 Great War, although no competitions were played; all Officers of the Navy and Army were allowed as Temporary Members without charge. The year 1919 saw the resumption of the Quarterly General Meeting; in 1920 Entry Money was raised to £2-2-0, while whisky rose to 1s. 3d. per glass. The following year the first steps were taken to acquire ground for a private course but the Trustees refused to lease the Newhailes policies as a golf course. Two years later two further sites were investigated, Monktonhall and Prestongrange, and after professional advice had been taken, a special General Meeting held on 1st December, 1924 empowered the Council to acquire a twenty years lease of Prestongrange for the purpose of a Private Golf Course: the Club was to be formed into a Limited Company under Guarantee; membership was to be increased from 300 to 450 (£5-5-0 Entry and £3-3-0 Subscription) and lady members were to be admitted to a maximum of 150 (Entry £3-3-0 and Subscription £2-2-0). Jas. Braid was engaged to lay out the course and superinted the work, to be carried out by Messrs. Hawtree and Taylor at a total cost of £3,797-10s. The original lease was for twenty-five years, with a yearly rental of £500 to a maximum of £650 in 15 years, and an extension of lease at a rent not exceeding £650. On 28th May, 1925, a temporary nine hole course was formally opened with a match between W. W. Mackenzie (Scottish Amateur Champion) and W. B. Torrance against J. B. Matheson (Club Captain) and Dr. A. Cleland. A little over a year later, on Wednesday, 29th September, 1926, the full course was officially opened by Colonel C. Crookshank, M.P. for Berwick and Haddington and the famous quartet of Braid, Taylor, Vardon and Herd played in Scotland v. England match, Scotland winning four and two in the morning and four and three in the afternoon. It was perhaps appropriate that at the A.G.M. Dr. A. Cleland was appointed Captain, and so the new venture began with the old custom of the Silver Cup Winner being the Captain of the Club.

Once again a new Trophy Scheme was introduced (the previous had been in 1908) but this was not to last any length of time either and a further scheme was introduced in 1952 when A and B Divisions and the awards for the three major Meetings were allocated (the January meeting now being dropped). In 1953 the Coronation Cup was presented, in 1955 the Mixed Foursomes Cup and in 1966 the Willie Park Trophy for Summer Foursomes was instituted. In addition to these trophies the Ladies’ Section have their Quaich and Rosebowl and the Junior Section their Championship Cup and Edmond Trophy.

The return, however, to 1924 it was certainly a very brave decision to enter upon such a project in such disturbed times, socially and economically. The aftermath of the Great War was still holding the country in its grip; unrest was rife, strikes were prevalent and grew into the National Strike of 1926, Government was unstable and not even the Coalition Government was successful and in the early thirties the Geddes Axe brought about a 10% cut in wages and salaries. It was scarcely the right atmosphere or conditions to produce such a difficult plan as the establishment of a new, golf course. The sale of the old Clubhouse to the Lodge of St. John, Fisherrow and Members’ Debentures still left a Capital debt of £1,000 and annual expenditure exceeded income by £200. Ladies membership was increased to £200; Entry Fee to seven guineas; green staff was reduced; but resignation brought membership down to 300 Gentlemen and 190 Ladies. A limited No Entry Fee scheme in 1931 was very successful in attracting new members but three years later there was further concern over numbers, but by 1939 membership stood at 352 Gentlemen, 130 Ladies 11 Country, 13 Boys, 4 Girls. The previous year the acquisition of the ‘pit pony field’ within the policies and the leasing of Bankfoot Park had made it possible for the course to be contained within the walls surrounding the estate; a new layout put forward by Mungo Park (6,200 yards, bogey 74) was accepted and in 1939 the new course was opened with exhibition games by A. D. Locke and A. D. Padgham, playing with A. J. D. Blaikie and W. Currie in the first game and later on their own.

Again the Club had chosen a bad time for a new venture for only a few months later the World War broke out, a part of the course (2nd to 9th holes, 20 acres) was taken over by the Government and were ploughed up, grazing was made compulsory over the rest and the Clubhouse was requisitioned for use by the R.A.F. (members had to carry identification and membership cards to be allowed into the grounds to have a game of golf, among the sheep, over the twelve holes which remained).

After the war restoration work was long and protracted but membership, which naturally had fallen during the war years, increased rapidly, and by 1940 all outstanding loans and deposits had been repaid. It seemed as if the Club was now established but a year later came two blows; a report by chartered surveyors that dry rot in the Clubhouse made it advisable that the present buildings be vacated as soon as possible; and secondly, an intimation from the owner that he wished to sell the property either to the Club or to any other party at the termination of the lease (e.g. N.C.B. for suggestion and counter- suggestion, activity and inactivity, proposals and counter- proposals, during which the Club failed to carry out any concrete moves to meet the obvious necessity of purchase. Finally, after some extraordinary moves, the Club found itself committed to purchase, could not raise the necessary funds to meet their obligations and entered into negotiations with C.I.S.W.O. which ended in June 1957 when formal consent was given to the purchase of the Course and Clubhouse by the Welfare Organisation, a much happier solution than the one for winding up the Club which was put forward at an S.G.M. in January of the same year.

It was, and has remained, a most harmonious and successful union, with C.I.S.W.O. as owners of and responsible for the property, with R.M.G.C. being members of C.I.S.W.O. and responsible for the management of the game, and with the respective Management Committee and Golf Club Council working closely together for the good of the whole. So with the course and clubhouse in better condition than ever before, the Club can certainly enjoy its official third century in good heart and with justifiable optimism.

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