Royal Golf Clubs in Scotland
As this series develops we are looking for a connection between the club and its patron and giving some background on the patron or monarch involved. Many highly ranked clubs in Scotland and England have a royal title, but it is not a meritorious system, it is more based on ‘who you know’ and typically known as ‘grace and favour’.
The Royal family can patronise whoever they chose. In golf, the patronage is not too serious unlike other organisations such as charities. It is however valued seriously by clubs that have the title.
In this series, there are three historic clubs, one club that failed initially to complete the requirement to get the monarch's approval.
Royal Montrose Golf Club
Granted Royal patronage by Prince Albert in 1845
Originally founded as Montrose Golf Club, Royal Montrose claims to be the 9th oldest club in the world, in permanent existence. The Club was founded in 1810 and it played over 17 holes. But from 1863, it played over 18 holes.
William Ewart Gladstone, a future Prime Minister with local connections helped the Club secure Royal Patronage of Prince Albert in 1845, while he was at the Queens Scottish residence in Balmoral. The club then became Montrose Royal Albert Golf in 1845.
Between the late 1800s and the early 1900s, Montrose was home to several golf clubs. Some of these golf clubs amalgamated into a single club including the Montrose Victoria Golf Club (founded in 1864), which amalgamated with the Montrose Royal Albert Golf Club in February 1986 to form the Royal Montrose Golf Club. Mid that year, The North Links Ladies Golf Club merged with Royal Montrose Golf Club.
The Royal Montrose Golf Club celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2010 and its current patron is the HRH Prince Andrew, Duke of York.
Prince Albert was born in Saxony, when he was 20 he married his first cousin, Queen Victoria. They had nine children. .He gave his support to many causes, such as educational reform and the worldwide abolition of slavery. He ran the Queen's household, estates and office and was very involved with organizing the ‘Great Exhibition’ of 1851, which was an unqualified success.
Royal Musselburgh Golf Club
Granted Royal patronage by Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught, in 1876.
Royal Musselburgh Golf Club was founded in 1774 as Musselburgh Golf Club and it is the world’s 5th oldest golf club. The Old Club Cup is a trophy still competed for and kept in the Clubhouse. It is the oldest golf trophy played for constantly in the world.
In 1876 H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught consented to become Hon. President of the Club, a position which he held until his death in 1942; his son, H.R.H. Prince Arthur, was Hon. Vice-President from 1912 until his death in 1938.
Born the seventh child and third son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, Prince Arthur served for 40 years in the British Army, following in the footsteps of his godfather the Duke of Wellington. He was Governor-General of Canada for 5 years.
In 1887, Sir William Hope, the Club’s president was presented with the Connaught Cup during a ceremony that was attended by The Grand Duke Michael of Russia, who was a dedicated golfer and an Honorary Member of the club.
In 1922 the Club moved to Prestongrange House and Estate where the clubhouse was a 12th-century historic house. It was first owned by the monks of Newbattle Abbey. Here the famous course architect James Braid designed a new traditional parkland course.
Prince Arthur was born in 1850 at Buckingham Palace and he was the 3rd son and 7th child of Prince Albert and Queen Victoria. He was the godson of Prince William of Prussia, Princess Bernard, and the Duke of Wellington.
He married Princess Louise Margaret of Prussia and they had three children. Arthur was a military man who for five years held the post of Governor-General of Canada.
At the time of his passing, Arthur was 91 years old.
Royal Aberdeen Golf Club
Granted Royal patronage in by Edward VII in 1903
Organised golf started at Aberdeen in 1780 with the foundation of the "Society of Golfers at Aberdeen", an select gathering of only 25 members. The Aberdeen Golf Club was formed in 1815 and its members continued to play on the Queen's Links until 1888 when they .moved to the current links at Balgownie.
In 1872 the club received the patronage of Prince Leopold. He was the eighth child and fourth son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. He was named after King Leopold I of Belgium, a favourite uncle of Queen Victoria's.
In 1858/9 it was found that Leopold had inherited haemophilia, the disease is hereditary in the female line, thus from his mother, Queen Victoria. It was the first known case of haemophilia in the British royal family.
The same year as the patronage Prince Leopold entered Oxford University. He left the university with an honorary doctorate in civil law in 1876.
It appeared that the golf club was unaware of the necessity of court paperwork following the patronage and support of Prince Leopold, so the monarch's approval was not obtained.
They were not the only golf club to commit this 'faux pas'. It was corrected in 1903 when His Majesty King Edward VII conferred the Royal title on the club. However, It seems the Aberdeen Golf Club had been using the 'royal' title for part of the intervening years.
King Edward VII was born in 1841. He was the second child and first son of Prince Albert and Queen Victoria. Edward married at the age of 21 to Princess Alexandra of Denmark. They had six children.
He was crowned King in 1901 after the death of Queen Victoria and became King of the United Kingdom and Emperor of India.
Edward was fluent in German and French and his interests were in the fields of military, naval and foreign affairs.
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