Crail Golfing Society marks 225th anniversary

Crail Golfing Society Captain Ian Dickson (right) with Old Tom Morris (second right) and Gil Hanse (third right). Old Tom's caddie is on the left.
Crail Golfing Society Captain Ian Dickson (right) with Old Tom Morris (second right) and Gil Hanse (third right). Old Tom's caddie is on the left.
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A SPECIAL celebratory ‘Founders Dinner’ was held at Crail Golfing Society’s clubhouse last Friday in honour of the gentlemen who founded the society 225 years ago.

It was on February 23, 1786 - three years before the French Revolution - that the minutes of the first meeting recorded: “Several gentlemen in and about the town of Crall, who were fond of the diversion of golf agreed to form themselves into a society to be known as the Crail Golfing Society.”

Society captain Ian Dickson told the Citizen: ‘‘We have much to thank those original 11 members for, as it was their foresight that led to our thriving club today.

‘‘It is right that we celebrate with a dinner, and not a little jollity, as the founders regarded the society’s dinners as just as important – if not more so – than the golf!’’

Attended by male club members – the society was founded as a men-only club and did not become mixed until 1996 – the dinner was also attended by two specially invited guests, ‘‘Old Tom’’ Morris and Gil Hanse, who were the architects of Crail’s two golf courses.

The society’s Balcomie Links course was laid out by Old Tom in 1895 and is recognised as one of the finest links courses in Scotland.

At the dinner, Tom was played by David Joy, who has performed the role all over the world, having studied in great depth the life of the ‘‘Grand Old Man of Golf.’’

Gil Hanse, who was named Golf Course Architect of the Year for 2009, designed the Society’s second course, Craighead Links, which opened for play in 1997, just over 100 years after Balcomie.

Craighead, which was Gil Hanse’s first design after setting up his business, has achieved wide recognition as an outstanding test of golf and, in its short life so far, has hosted several international events.

Timed to coincide as nearly as possible with the founding date of the Society, the Founders Dinner had a menu as it would have been 225 years ago, consisting of Scotch broth, lamb with Scottish root vegetables and Scottish apple pie. To continue the 225th theme, the dinner was priced at £22.50.

In April, as part of the year-long celebrations, the Battle Trophy will be played for the first time in its new role as a world counting event, and, on May 1, the society will be holding an open day for anyone to come along and try out the facilities.

On June 25, the society is taking advantage of its world wide membership and organising a Crail versus The Rest of the World match play event, with members in over 16 countries competing against non-members.

To conclude the celebrations, at the end of the year there will be another special dinner for all members – men and women - and their partners.

Crail Golfing Society is the seventh oldest golf club in the world and is the oldest to have a complete set of minutes of meetings dating from its formation to the present day. The Society is a traditional members’ club with 1400 men and women members all over the world.