Golf is first documented as having been played at Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire in 1613 when the Parish Kirk Session records refer to a young lad named John Burnett who was chastised for “playing at the gouff” on a Sunday instead of going to church eriacta canada. He was ordered by the Session to be sent to the “maister’s stool for correction”.
Following receipt of documents from the National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh it has been firmly established that the Fraserburgh Golf Club was founded on 14th April 1777 and that the membership consisted of nineteen of the most prominent “landed gentry” in the north-east of Scotland.
According to the display boards in the British Golf Museum, StAndrews, Fraserburgh Golf Club is the 5th oldest club in Scotland and the 7th oldest in the World. Fraserburgh Golf Club would appear to be the oldest golf club in the World still operating under its original name. Fraserburgh Golf Club is the oldest club north of The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews.
The original course was nine holes played on the “public commonty” (Fraserburgh Links) but due to congestion, danger to the public and constant interruption the Club, thanks to the generosity of the then Lord Saltoun, moved approximately half a mile south to its present location at Philorth Links in 1891.
Lord Saltoun was approached on the subject of the proposed new course, and without practically any hesitation or reservation, promptly agreed to place the ground at the disposal of the Golf Club. The Philorth Golf Course was opened, as already indicated, early in 1891.
The annual rent is absolutely nominal, and of the smallest proportions. Only those who really love the game can adequately appreciate the privileges and pleasures of the Philorth course, which has been so readily and so generously placed at the disposal of the community by the Superior.
The course was redesigned in 1922 by the five times Open Champion James Braid and much of his design remains to this day. This redesign has left us with the legacy of being one of the most natural traditional scottish links layouts to compare favourably with neighbouring Cruden Bay Golf Club, Murcar Links Golf Club,Royal Aberdeen Golf Club and the present billion pound Donald Trump development “The Great Dunes of Scotland”.
Following the disasterous fire in March 2004 the clubhouse was totally destroyed and with it all of the Club’s past records and documentation. Work is in hand to replace some of these records but research is likely to take several years. It was only in 2006, that this research unearthed the documents of 1777 in the National Library of Scotland.
After two years of voluntary work by many of the members the new clubhouse opened in May 2006 by the Rt Hon. Alex Salmond MP the then First Minister for Scotland and recently elected Hon. Vice-President of Fraserburgh Golf Club.
Press & Journal (local paper)
6th November 1891
Fraserburgh.- The annual meeting of the Fraserburgh Golf Club was held in the Academy on Wednesday evening- Mr. John Reiach, Captain of the club, presiding. There was a good attendance of members. The secretary’s and treasurer’s reports were laid on the table, and considered highly satisfactory, the latter showing a substantial sum at the credit of the club. The two gold medals played for during the year were presented to the successful competitors by the captain. The winner of the scratch medal was Mr. G M Joss; Mr. R Mutch securing the handicap trophy. Lieutenant Gairdner, R.N., at the request of Lord Saltoun, intimated that his lordship was to present to the club for competition three medals (gold, silver and bronze). It was resolved to engross in the minutes of the club’s appreciation of his lordship’s continued liberality. At the meeting Lieutenant Gairdner, R.N., presented also a brass cleek for competition amongst the members.
1891 Gold Medal
The office-bearers for the ensuing year were elected as follows:- Honorary captain Lord Saltoun; captain, Mr. Thomas Park; vice-captain, Rev. G W Stewart: secretary and treasurer, Mr. David Bruce; council, Messrs Jas. Milne, G M Joss, George Stephen, William Noble and William Grant.