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Royal Burgess

Could this club have Scotland’s biggest junior section?

The Royal Burgess Golfing Society of Edinburgh may be the world’s oldest golf club, but its future seems to rest in some very young hands
 

Would some clubs prefer that juniors were seen but not heard? Youngsters may inevitably be the future of membership, but stories persist of them being kept at the margins – denied entry to competitions simply because of their age and handicaps.

But at the world’s oldest golf club, children are thoroughly welcomed into a near three century tradition. The result is a category whose sheer size may make you think you’ve misheard the number.

At The Royal Burgess Golfing Society of Edinburgh, there are 173 juniors and chiefs at the Barnton club couldn’t be happier that they are ‘taking over’.

Founded in 1735, and widely recognised as the oldest golf club in the world, its members played at Bruntsfield Links and Musselburgh before moving to their present Barnton site more than 130 years ago.

Renowned for its spectacular clubhouse, with its glorious Victorian detailing and treasure trove of memorabilia, the club is now forging a new reputation for moulding the golfers of the future.

And it all started from a desire to become a more progressive club, said Society professional Steven Brian (pictured).

“We’ve got the biggest junior section I know with a waiting list for both minis and juniors,” he explained.

“[When] Our junior membership started and you had to be the son of a member. Classic. We thought, ‘that’s just crazy – there are so many kids that are wanting to play.

“So we opened that up to anyone who wanted to be a junior member. Fantastic. Then we had a lot of members who said, ‘listen our son or daughter is eight or nine and I want to get them involved.

“Our junior membership started at 12 and so now we have a junior membership from 12 but a mini junior from seven to 11.

“Suddenly, that’s got the parents thinking, ‘we’ll get them in and get them started’ because if you play rugby and football you play from that age.”

With their burgeoning mini-junior section in particular, Royal Burgess have also found that their insatiable appetite to play golf has also had a positive effect on adult membership numbers as well.

“We’ve now got these sections and a mini-junior has to be accompanied by an adult on the golf course. It was easy to get a mini-junior in and then mum and dad would come and they would join – they’d say, ‘I’ve walked round that golf course and it’s beautiful. I want to be a member as well’.”

Brian believes only Gullane could rival Burgess’s burgeoning youth-set up and says their commitment is not just in name only, and also reflects a wider stance of equality within the Society.

“We’ve been keen to see juniors play. A lot of clubs don’t want to see juniors on the golf course. We’ve got a medal for them every Sunday. When a mini-junior joins, a percentage of their entry goes to coaching.”

He added: “It’s made the club so inclusive. We’ve full equality here. Every competition is mixed. If you’re a member, you’re a member. If you play a Society competition, it’s a Society competition.”

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Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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