4. Golf Club
“Amid the grandest scenery of Scotland, breathing the purest of mountain air, and playing on a course that is both well planned and well kept, no one will be disappointed who elects to spend a golfing holiday by the banks of the Spey at Newtonmore.”
The land occupied by the golf course was originally used for the large cattle markets which took place in Newtonmore in the 19th century. By the 1880s the village was developing into a holiday resort and a golf course was considered essential to attract summer visitors. Newtonmore’s original course, with nine holes, opened in 1893.
In 1896 the St Andrews professional Tom Morris rearranged the course and described it as one of the best inland courses he had played. In 1898 the course was improved again, this time by Tom Watson. The course was extended in 1902 by Tom Turnbull, the professional at Helensburgh. Though still nine holes, the improvements “materially improved the playing qualities of the course”. The course was extended to 18 holes in 1906. The following year the famous professionals James Braid and Sandy Herd played a match at Newtonmore. After winning, Braid remarked that it was an excellent course. After World War I he made some improvements to the course, particularly the bunkers.
The original clubhouse, designed by a local architect Alexander Macpherson, opened in 1904 and cost £143. It was described as “a handsome and commodious building, 37 feet long by about 18 feet wide, with an ornamental veranda”.
The clubhouse was extended in 1925. In 1929 the green fees for visitors were 2/6d a day or 8s a week. Before the advent of golf trollies, up to fifty caddies a day were needed at the course in the height of the season. They were all boys under 15, whose fee was 6d.
In 1946 the Club bought the land for £1,950. Ten years later a liquor licence was obtained and a bar opened. Sunday golf was not permitted until 1960.Further improvements to the clubhouse were made in 1960, 1972, 1984 and 1993.
Newtonmore Golf Club is said to have more left-handed golfers than any other club. It is believed this is due to the number of shinty players in the village who are accustomed to handling a club with either hand. The Club hosts the Scottish left-handed championship.
The 1906 extension to eighteen holes moved a local bard, Malcolm Cattanach, to extol the virtues of the course in a poem:
On the lovely banks of Spey,
Where all the swells are found,
The jolly golfers all the day
Play many a pleasant round.
The course it is a grand one,
None better in the North.
The club-house, large and handsome,
Will draw all players forth.
The air is pure and bracing,
And the scenery is grand,
Our lovely villas facing
The snow-clad Grampians stand.
Craig Dhu, in early morning,
With the sunlight all aglow,
Beside the course, adorning,
The rapid Spey doth flow.
Some amateur on the course has played,
Thought he knew the game.
Too long his practice he delayed;
His strokes were poor and lame.
But take a tip from our local lad,
Who finished with seventy-one.
Stay here a while, and you’ll be glad,
And have some glorious fun.
Romantic Badenoch: A Guide Book (1905)
Official Guide to Newtonmore (1929)
J. Downie (1993) The First 100 Years of Golf at Newtonmore
A. Glen (2008) Old Kingussie and Badenoch