As we all know now, there was much more to come. Carnoustie’s Open hospitality – and its fantastic test of top level golf – had won the hearts of spectators, players, officials and sports journalists. The scene had been well and truly set.
Not even the presence of H.R.H. The Prince of Wales, who had played with Jurado at Walton Heath the week before the Open, could inspire the Spaniard. The late arrival – and impatience – of His Royal Highness did not impress local steward “Auld” Jimmy Ramsay either. He had been told to strictly observe a rule that no spectators should attempt entry to the course across the Barry Burn bridges at the 1st or 18th holes. He did exactly what he was told to do.
While the course design and presentation was rewarded with widespread approval, two local members nevertheless felt sufficiently miffed at what they perceived to be unfair bunker placement that they quickly raised a complaint with the Links Committee. Their gripe was that “for a two-shot hole, a player with a straight drive should have a clear path to the green”. Holes two, six, seven and 11 were seen to be penal in that respect.
They also felt that the bunker presence to the front left of the new 16th green was unfair. Links agreed to look at the points made and report back.
Notwithstanding all the positives from a truly memorable year, a serious difference of opinion broke out (to be honest, there were at least five different opinions) on a suggestion from Carnoustie Golf Links that golf fees for new club members or visitors – from outwith a three-mile radius of the post office in the town – should be increased.
An uplift in levies from one penny to two pence was put forward by the town council, if members within the clubs could agree to pass such a motion. At a special meeting on November 18th, those at Carnoustie Golf Club argued all night about it, failed to reach agreement and the meeting broke up with no decision taken, except that three members of council should attend a further meeting.
That idea failed miserably as a decision was deferred after 1) Dalhousie representatives refused to agree to the increase being implemented and 2) the Caledonian club neither replied to the invitation nor turned up!
It is probable that the word ‘shambles’ was broadly chosen to describe the state of affairs which now existed. For their part, the Carnoustie club representatives confirmed their sincere regret to the members at the next meeting for the absence of any decision. In particular, William Duthie (who had been one of the most vociferous on his club’s feelings on the subject) apologised humbly for the failure to produce an agreed plan and, in his own words, “all the trouble I myself have been causing lately”. He was profuse in his statement of regret, but insisted that he was taking his stance “in the best interests of the club”.
His follow-up must rank as one of the finest bits of poetic brilliance (if not the only one in 175 years) to grace the minute books of Carnoustie Golf Club:
“Pardon this freedom I hae ta’en,
(An’ if impertinent I hae been),
Impute it not, good sirs, inane
Whae’s he’rt ne’er wranged ye-
-but, to his utmost, would befriend
Aught that belonged ye!”
It is not recorded in the minute of that meeting whether applause or stunned silence followed his quite superb contribution. The author is confident, however, that it remains unique in the annals of Carnoustie Golf Club.
About DONALD FORD
Donald is the author of The Carnoustie Golf Club, one of the six clubs in the town. He spent many years on holiday in Carnoustie and has now retired there.
Donald has a fascinating background, as well as being a highly accomplished course photographer he was part of Scotland’s World Cup squad in 1974 having enjoyed a glittering career with Hearts. He was also picked in Scotland’s first cricket squad for the B&H Cup in 1980.
The club would like to put it on record how grateful they are for all the hard work that has gone into a brilliant book and would like to add that The Smith Medal Collection, both Alex and MacDonald’s, are now on show in the clubhouse and all visitors are most welcome. The content and archive used to create the book belongs to Carnoustie Golf Club.
To get your hands on a copy email [email protected]