Top amateur Ronnie Shade launched Kirkcaldy’s first municipal golf course 59 years ago

Kirkcaldy’s first municipal golf course was opened 59 years ago this month.

Wednesday, 18th May 2022, 3:34 pm

Sunday, May 5, 1963 saw the launch of Dunnikier Golf Course - and it was hailed as one of the best of its kind.

Laid out in Dunnikier Park at a cost of £13,000, it was formally opened when two of Britain’s top amateur golfers, Ronnie Shade and Sandy Saddler, finished all square with professionals Fred Bullock and Bobby Walker in an 18-hole exhibition game.

Around 200 people watched the early stages of the match in which the amateurs were behind almost all the way - they were two down at the turn - but fought back to level at the 16th, and halved the remaining holes.

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The opening of Dunnikier Golf Course, Kirkcaldy, May 1963: Guest players (from left) Fred Bullock and Bobby Walker with Provost Gourlay and Councillor Nicholson; and leading amateurs Sandy Saddler and Ronnie Shade.

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Shade came to Kirkcaldy fresh from his triumph at the English Amateur Open Championship in Southport, the previous day and was joined by Saddler who was joint third.

Provost James Gourlay presided at the opening, and Councillor H.A. Nicholson drove the forest ball.

The Fife Free Press reported: “He nobly faced up to the ordeal and received a loud cheer when he hit a fine drive which strayed only slightly from the proper line.”

Fife Free Press report on the opening of Dunnikier Golf Course, Kirkcaldy, in May 1963

The course at Dunnikier was designed by J.E. Stutt Ltd, golf architects and contractors, Paisley, who were also given the contract to construct the tees, greens and bunkers.

In 1959 the fairways were cut down to grass by a local farmer, and during the winter and spring of 1960-61 staff at the Corporation’s parks department carried out soil grading on sections of the fairway and removed a large number of large trees and stone dykes.

The wing of Dunnikier House was also converted into a club house and separate accommodation provided by the Town Council for Dysart Golf Club at a cost of £700.

The opening of Dunnikier Golf Course in Kirkcaldy, May 1963: Mr Stutt, course designer, presents Councillor Nicholson with a cigarette casket.

There was a reason for that - some years earlier the council had taken over Dysart golf course in order to build houses, and it was agreed at the time whenever a new course was built, the club would be given that privilege.

Lunch duly followed at the Victoria Hotel, and the guests were all impressed with the new facility.

The Provost said he had been assured that within a few years Dunnikier would be one of the best municipal courses in the country.

Cllr Nicholson added: “I don’t think there is any doubt that we have a fine golf course at Dunnikier.

“Two of our leading local golfers, W.M.O Petrie and Mr Ian Reekie played round the course with our head greenkeeper, a good player in his own right, and I understand their report was that we have the makings of a first class course.

“If we maintain it properly and spread this good report around it may well be considered one of the best in the whole of the United Kingdom.”