THE term nifty at 50 has never applied more appropriately than at Dunnikier Park Golf Club.
The Kirkcaldy club is gearing up for a summer of celebration as both course and clubhouse hit the half century.
And with major investment, both on and off the course, the golden anniversary promises to be the start of a golden era of golf at Dunnikier Park.
Martin Christie, a long-standing club member and past captain, is heading up the club’s 50th anniversary committee.
He told the Press: “A lot of planning has gone into making sure we have a memorable 50th year.
“We have invested in the clubhouse with the refurbishment of the main lounge, and the creation of a sports lounge upstairs for the juniors.
“We also have a number of competitions and social functions planned to celebrate our past, present and future.
“On the course, you will also see a massive difference thanks to the £170,000 investment from the Fife Golf Trust.
“They’ve introduced new drainage, lay-outs and contours around a number of holes, and the starters hut is being reshaped.
“They have also taken on a professional, Alistair MacDonald, as a pilot to absorb the duties of what were the starters.
“We now have a professional set-up that would exist in a private club.”
The improvements to the course are the major talking point among the club’s 600 members.
The current club captain, Stuart Ward, expects the new-look course to be more of a challenge to golfers.
“Dunnikier has always been a challenging course because of it’s length, but the reshaping of the burn, and the new greens, has made it a bigger challenge,” he said.
“The work has only just been completed so we’re hoping the course will be fully re-opened over the next few weeks, and there’s a lot of excitement and buzz about that.
“People are really looking forward to playing the new Dunnikier Park golf course.”
Fife Golf Trust chief executive Alistair MacGregor, along with golf course manager, Paul Murphy, have played a key role in the changes.
Mr MacGregor added: “In conjunction with Fife Council we have made extensive improvements to the drainage.
“The changes are significant and are already attracting many positive comments.”
The jubilee kick offs this Sunday with the 50th anniversary family open, which takes place 50 years to the day since the course was officially opened.
To add to the occasion, founding member Tam Guild (85) has been asked to hit the first tee shot.
“I don’t play so much now so I’m a bit nervous about that!” he told the Press.
Tam is still a member of Dunnikier Park today and he feels proud to have been involved in the origins of the club.
“I was here for the opening of the course in 1963 when Provost Nicholson drove the ball off the first tee,” he recalled.
“The membership of the course had been promised to Dysart Golf Club but it had closed years earlier and the membership had scattered.
“There was a group of us talking about it when the greenkeeper at the time, Charlie Burke, suggested we start our own club.
“We adjourned to a meeting in the hotel across the road and, just like that, the club was formed.
“There was about 15 of us to start with but once news spread we had quite a full membership within the first year.
“I have a lot of happy memories here, it’s always been a great family-orientated social club right from the beginning, and for it to progress like it has is fantastic.
“To me, it’s a great club, always has been, and to have been part of it from the start is something I’m very proud of.”
On Sunday, May 5, 1963 councillor Harry Nicholson, the chair of Kirkcaldy Town Council’s parks committee, opened Dunnikier Park Golf Course.
To commemorate the opening, an exhibition match was held.
Reputedly, nearly 2,000 people turned up to watch an entertaining game end in a halved match.
The players were Fred Bullock, Bobby Walker, Sandy Saddler and Ronnie Shade. Both Sandy Saddler and Ronnie Shade were distinguished amateurs who played for the Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup teams. Fred Bullock had finished joint runner up to Gary Player in the 1959 open at Muirfield and Bobby Walker was one of Scotland’s finest golf professionals of the era.
To celebrate the 50th Anniversary, Fife Golf Trust and Dunnikier Park Golf Club are jointly hosting a ‘Family Open’ competition this Sunday. For entry details visit dunnikierparkgolfclub.com.