Tee-up Perth as golfing mecca for Ryder Cup

29th December 2011

And while it’s too late in the day to displace St Andrews as the Home of Golf, the Fair City should be trumpeting its key role in the development of the game.

That’s the view of Robin Valentine, captain of the Perth Merchants Golf Club and a campaigner against plans for the Connect2 Bridge over the Tay.
He said: “Perth people may not realise that our connection with the history of golf dates back 500 years and the city should be proud of its golfing history.

“This is one of the reasons why local golfers are so intent on preserving the North Inch Golf Course. Perth and Kinross Council should be building on its reputation, not destroying the course. It needs to be professionally marketed worldwide as the real home of golf!”

Mr Valentine said: “King James IV of Scotland, crowned at Scone Palace in 1488, could well be described as a man of many talents.

“He founded the Royal College of Surgeons in Scotland. He also introduced compulsory education requiring large landowners to send their sons to school and to one of the universities at St Andrews, Glasgow or Aberdeen.

“He decided in 1502 that the threat of war with England had receded and lifted the longstanding ban on golf.

“This had been imposed to encourage archery and he then personally took up the game of golf. He ordered his first set of golf clubs from a local bowmaker in Perth and spent the princely sum of 14 shillings –70 pence at today’s prices – on his first set of golf clubs.

“This is the oldest recorded location of golf taking place anywhere in the world, with the King of Scotland playing golf here over 500 years ago.

“Our council should be proud of Perth’s connection with the history of golf and making it a major tourist attraction.

“The Ryder Cup will come to Gleneagles in 2014 and the North Inch course in Perth could easily become a mecca for golfers visiting Scotland from all over the world.

“Visitors playing the North Inch could be given a certificate at the end of their round confirming they had played over the oldest known golf course in the world”

The first record of golf being played on the North Inch comes from the minutes of the local Kirk Session who persecuted four members of the congregation for playing golf on a Sunday in 1599.

Four people – James Bowman, Laurence Chalmers, Laurence Cuthbert and John Gardner – confessed and apologised for golfing on the North Inch “‘at the time of the preaching afternoon of the Sabbath.”

Mr Valentine noted: “Golf was being played on both the North and South Inches of Perth by the 18th Century.

“The Perth Golfing Society started to play over six holes on the South Inch, but later moved to play over the North Inch.

“They were granted the Royal accolade by King William IV in 1833 and became the first Royal Club anywhere in the world.

“King James VI Golf Club was founded in 1858 and is named after James IV’s grandson who is also supposed to have played golf on the North Inch.

“Their course is unique as Moncrieffe Island is surrounded by water and only accessible on foot.

“This is one place that would truly benefit from a pedestrian bridge and it could be built for a fraction of the cost of the planned Connect2 Bridge.”

The North and South Inches were large parkland areas given to the people of Perth by King Robert III in 1377.

The North Inch is where the famous Battle of the Clans took place in 1396 between Clans Chattan and Kay.

And pitching-up with another idea to enhance tourism in the city, Mr Valentine said: “There could be an annual re-enactment of the Battle of the Clans on the North Inch involving 60 kilted men, with just 12 left standing at the end. This would attract large crowds of visitors to Perth each year.”