Royal Golf Clubs Series – Number 3
Introduction: With four more Royal Scottish courses we almost complete the Scotland section. All four received their Royal patronage in the 20th century from Edward VII, Princess Louise (2) and George V.
Royal Dornoch granted Royal patronage by Edward VII in 1906.
Royal Dornoch is a renowned world class course, one of the best in Scotland, but is so remote in Sutherland that it does not attract many international tournaments. Golf was played on the links as early as 1616 but the club was not formed until 1877. Tom Watson, Ben Crenshaw and HRH Prince Andrew are Honorary Members of the Club. Dornoch Golf Club secured the title of 'Royal' from King Edward VII in 1906. It was through the influence of the Duchess of Sutherland. Duchess Millicent was a good friend to the Club.
Duchess of Sutherland
Lady Millicent St. Clair-Erskine married the Marquis of Stafford, eldest son and heir of the 3rd Duke of Sutherland, on her 17th birthday. He inherited the Dukedom of Sutherland on his father's death in 1892 and died in 1913. The family had properties in Scotland, Staffordshire and London. She was known as a society hostess in London. She had a reputation for promoting social reform and was known as ‘Meddlesome Millie’ in Staffordshire where she campaigned for improved working conditions in the five towns known as ‘The Potteries’.
Edward VII (1841 – 1910) was King of the United Kingdom from 1901 until his death in 1910. He was the eldest son of Queen Victoria and as heir to the throne held the title of Prince of Wales for almost 60 years. His reputation as a playboy prince soured his relationship with his mother. In 1863, he married Princess Alexandra of Denmark and Edward had many affairs during his marriage. Two actresses, Lady Randolph Churchill (Winston's mother) and Alice Keppel (great-grandmother of Camilla, wife of the present Prince of Wales) were among his many assignations. His legacy is criticism for his love of self-indulgent pleasures but praise for his pleasant personality and diplomatic skill.
Duff House Royal Golf Club, granted Royal patronage by Princess Louise, Dowager Duchess of Fife, in 1925.
Also, Royal Tarlair, granted Royal patronage by Princess Louise, Dowager Duchess of Fife in 1926
In 1889 the 5th Earl of Fife married Princess Louise, the eldest daughter of the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VII). After the wedding, Queen Victoria elevated Lord Fife to be Duke of Fife and Marquis of Macduff, in the County of Banff. As eldest daughter, when Edward became King, she would be also known as the Princess Royal. The towns of Banff and Macduff are close together on the north coast of Aberdeenshire and would become home to the above two Royal Golf Clubs.
The Duke and Princess were keen on golf. In 1906 they gifted Duff House and 140 acres to the people of Banff and Macduff . This led to the development of the course and ultimate ownership by Duff House Golf Club.
In 1923 Princess Louise became patroness of the Club, it was granted Royal patronage in 1925 and named Duff House Royal Golf Club. A year later the famous designer of Augusta Golf course in Georgia, Dr. Alister MacKenzie redeveloped the course.
A further site at Tarlair near Macduff was granted on generous terms by the trustees of the Duke of Fife who died in 1912. It was developed as a fine clifftop course and opened in 1925. The 13th hole known as the “Clivet” is a famous and spectacular hole. It’s a hole that every golfer should experience.
In 1926 the Princess Royal arranged royal patronage for the club and it was granted by King George V. It was then known as Royal Tarlair Golf Club
Royal Burgess granted Royal patronage by George V in 1929.
The Royal Burgess Golfing Society claims the title of world's oldest golfing society. It was first recorded as being established in 1735 in an 1834 edition of the Edinburgh Almanac. The Society first played at Bruntsfield Links and then moved to Musselburgh Links to avoid overcrowding. It moved again to the current Barnton course for the same reason where it was known as ‘The Edinburgh Burgess Golfing Society’.
Many Royals have played at the Burgess and some have been members. They included George V, George VI, Edward VIII, and now the Duke of York. In 1929 King George V granted Royal patronage and ordered the name be changed to “The Royal Burgess Golfing Society”.