In 1891, history was made in Fife as one of the first independently run ladies golf clubs opened its doors to local women in Lundin Links.
Nearly 20 years before women across the UK were campaigning for the right to vote, women in Lundin Links were fighting to have their own golf club.
They succeeded – but in the beginning, it was still men at the helm, with the ladies only given committee roles.
But after seven years, when requests for a clubhouse were denied, a walk out was staged, with the ladies refusing to play until they were given a clubhouse, and decision making powers. And so it was, that Lundin Ladies became completely independently run, with its own clubhouse, committee and green-keeping staff.
And after 125 years, the club is still as strong as ever, with 180 members.
On March 20, the opening match of the season was played, and celebrations were in full swing to mark the landmark year, with the new anniversary flag – featuring the stunning standing stones from the second fairway – raised, athe cutting of the cake and lots of champagne consumed!
And this weekend, the members are hoping to welcome the next generation of Lundin Ladies golfers who will keep the club going for years to come.
Sue Nicholson, new club captain for 2016, said: “Lundin Ladies is a golf club with an abundant history, and we hope that the open day will find lots of new local ladies interested in golf.
“It’s very special for me to be named captain in this anniversary year, and our opening match day was fantastic and very well attended.”
An updated version of a book written to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the club has been re-released to mark the special year, with treasurer Helen Melvin helping to research the new content from the last 25 years.
“It’s just fascinating,” she said. “We have large bound volumes detailing the minutes from committee meetings going all the way back to 1891 and I just poured over it, reading them aloud to my husband.
“Many fascinating things have happened at our club over the years.
“For example, for some strange reason, the 1st Battalion Royal Highland Cyclists were based in Lundin Links during the war, and they were given permission back then to use our clubhouse as a reading room, and were even allowed to play football on our green!
“And during World War Two, clubs across the country were required to give up some of their green for crops, so Lundin Ladies, which has always had a great relationship with the mens’ club, gave up its whole green, and joined with the men.
“But because it wasn’t in use, it didn’t get any funds, so the women organised a weekly raffle of eggs, which were rationed at the time, to raise money to pay for its green-keeper. They went to great lengths to keep their club going.”
As one of the oldest ladies’ clubs in the world – Helen believes Royal Calcutta was formed around six months before Lundin – it has attracted people from all over the world, including one Nigerian man who visited during the Open last year.
“He turned up unannounced and said he had noticed the sign on the road. He asked about the club, and around two weeks later, we received a huge two-page spread which he had written in one of the Nigerian papers all about our club!”, said Helen.
In the 125th year, the ladies hope to welcome lots of new players to join their ranks, which include retired people, those in full time employment, mums and 45 junior members too.
“Golf had this reputation of being quite stuffy and for the middle and upper classess, but it’s not like that anymore. We have lots of different kinds of people at our club, and it’s a very social thing,” explained Helen. “It’s cross-generational too, and I often head out on the course with my son and teenage grandson.”
Two of the members are lucky enough to hold the title of longest-serving members of Lundin Ladies, and were given the honour of cutting the anniversary cake during the opening celebrations.
Heather Elliott and Helen Melville, both previous captains, have been members for 66 years and 59 years respectively. And as Helen points out, that adds up to one special number - “Combined, they have been members for 125 years! We couldn’t believe the coincidence.”
As part of the anniversary celebrations, the club is hoping to welcome a whole new generation of golfers to a special open day organised for this weekend.
Anyone is welcome to go along to the club this Sunday, April 3 between 10am and 3pm, from those who might have played before, to complete golf novices.
A number of members will be on hand to offer information on the club and some golfing tips.
And in this special anniversary year, the club is offering a discounted rate of £125 for the year, down from the usual £235.
And don’t let the name fool you – men are very welcome at Lundin Ladies, and can purchase a season ticket to play on the course.
Women who would like to bring their partners along can do so on the day, and they can benefit from a discounted season ticket rate too.
Any ladies who make the decision to join will also benefit from funding given to the club through Scottish Golf, which aims to give Scots women a sport for life and an opportunity to stay healthy and active.
Helen explained: “Anyone who takes a membership will get 10 hours of free coaching, starting from the basics. So they can come along and learn alongside people in the same position.”
And don’t let age and wisdom put you off – there are at least 10 ladies already at the club who are in their 80s and playing regularly.
“I do wonder if golf attracts hardy women or creates them,” said Helen, “but they are a testament to how golf can keep you active in your later years.”
For more information about the club, head to www.lundinladiesgolfclub.co.uk.