Dunbar Golf Club



  • The first official competition was the Warrender medal in April 1857 and was won with 93 strokes. The competitors afterwards retired to The George Inn in the High Street for dinner as there was no clubhouse as yet. In 1857 the second major competition was arranged, for the Club Medal, and won with a score of 91. The most important members in these formative years were the Duke of Roxburghe and his family. The dukes owned the links and their wealth ensured a stable future for the early Club; this beneficial association endured right up to 1960. By 1869 membership had reached 54, comprising mostly well-to-do East Lothian landowners, Edinburgh merchants and the upper ranks of the military. A black-ball system was operated which kept things this way.
  • In 1870 came the first mention of ladies’ golf when an organization was created allowing them to play over 12 holes on a western part of the links. The Dunbar Ladies Golf Club was not instituted till 1894 but this earlier ladies’ club makes it the world’s third oldest ladies golf club on record.
  • The Duke of Roxburghe selflessly provided the first clubhouse amid great celebrations in 1871. This building still stands at the entrance road to the course and is called ‘Beachcote’.
  • In 1882 the Dunbar Castle Golf Club was founded. Resembling an artisans’ club, membership was confined to those Dunbar residents unable to afford the main Club’s fees. The ‘Castle Club’ had a separate constitution but, somewhat to the irritation of the senior club, soon began to produce the stronger players, usually recruited from the caddie ranks. The Castle Club prospers today although members are required to join the main Club.
  • Later Prime Minister Arthur Balfour joined in 1884 and became captain. This period heralded a huge expansion in Club activities with droves of golfers coming from all over the country. Competitions and prizes proliferated. The wealthy holidaymakers stayed in private villas in town for the summer “season”. The less well-off booked into hotels or boarding-houses and there was a daily influx of golfers arriving in packed excursion trains at the nearby station. In 1891 the Merchants Cup was launched by Dunbar businessmen to lure as large a field of golfers as possible; it was so successful that it became the biggest tournament in the calendar.
  • In 1894 a second Dunbar Ladies Golf Club was founded. Its premier trophy was the Crooke medal, gifted by an Edinburgh photographer, and is still played for today. Among the Club’s earliest famous players was Hilda Mather who reached the semi-final of the British Ladies Championship twice.
  • The Dunbar Golf Club held its jubilee at the St George Hotel in 1907. During these formative years, the club hosted several exciting Professional Challenge Matches. In 1863 Old Tom Morris played Willie Park and in 1903 no less than six Open champions, James Braid, J H Taylor, Arnaud Massy, Sandy Herd, Willie Fernie and Jack White played. In 1912 and 1913, James Braid, Harry Vardon and Ted Ray also played. The crowds attending these events were huge.
  • In 1912 Dunbar hosted its first Scottish PGA Championship, which was won by Willie Watt.


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