Lennel Golf Club: Key Events leading to formation of Hirsel Golf Club

General Meeting of Lennel Golf Club 30th November 1948 – Minute

A general meeting of the club members was held in the school at 7:30pm on 30th November 1948. Mr. W.Jackson presided over a large attendance. First item on the agenda was the Secretary's report. This was followed by the Treasurer's report. The financial position of the club was sound with a balance of £129-19s-6d and £2-8s-1d cash in hand. The captain then presented his report on the seasons working of the club. He thanked the secretary and treasurer along with the other office bearers for their cooperation during the past season. In stating the reason for this meeting being held in November instead of March, he said that in view of the unsatisfactory state of the Lennel course, the congestion incurred by only having seven holes in play and little hope of getting the clubhouse back, the meeting tonight would have to decide whether the club should remain at Lennel or seek alternative accommodation. Approaches to Mrs Sitwell about the two top holes had met with no satisfaction. The horses which were doing a great deal of damage on the holes already in play, would have to stay there, as there was no alternative grazing. The clubhouse had also been discussed but that was out of the question as the kniitting factory had it on lease for some years to come. The captain asked the meeting to give these points their careful consideration and he would then put the question to a vote. After some discussion, it was the unanimous wish of the members present to leave Lennel and seek an alternative course. The proposal being the Hirsel Estate. The Lennel Golf Club was thus disbanded.

Office bearers were then elected to wind up the old course and go ahead with the new project. The following were elected: Captain (W. Jackson), Vice Captain (J. Sinclair); Honorary Secretary (W. Scott), Honorary Treasurer (J. Calder) and Match Secretary (M. Penny). Ladies Committee: Mrs W. McClure, Mrs J. Palmer, Miss M.Hardy, Mrs J. Hogg, Miss H. Ford, Mrs W. Jackson, Miss C. Mitchell and Miss J. McGonigal. Gents Committee: J. Nelson, J. Lillico, J.Sloan, M. Scott, L. Stavert, D. Stavert and D. Gibson.

Some further discussion took place regarding the state of the club's equipment and the chairman's views that it would be advisable to order a new triple mower were agreed by the members. There being no further business, the chairman declared the meeting closed at 9:15pm.

Signed: W. Jackson, Captain and W. Scott, Hon. Secretary.

Hirsel Golf Club – Committee Meeting 3rd May 1949 – Minute

A committee meeting was held in the Crown Hotel at 8pm on Tuesday 3rd May. W. Jackson presided. Members present were as follows: Ladies: Mrs W. McClure, Mrs J. Palmer, Miss M. Hardie, Miss H. Ford, Miss C. Mitchell, Miss J. Whitelaw and Miss J. McGonigal. Gents: J. Sinclair, J. Sloan, L. Stavert, A.Ford, D. Gibson, W. McClure and M. Penny (Match Secretary).

The minutes of the previous meeting were read and approved. The main business of the evening was to draw up the final programme for the opening night. This was to consist of, firstly a few introuctory remarks by Mr. Jackson, followed by some short speeches by the platform party. The platform party was to be made up by the Earl and Countess of Home, Lord Dunglass, Provost Findlay, J. Jamieson and the Reverend JGL Christie.

After these speeches, the Earl of Home was to ask Lady Home to declare the course open. She would then hand a ball to Mr. W. Cowe who would drive off thus starting the game which was to follow the ceremony.

Stewards and caddies were arranged for the evening.

Regarding the charge for teas, it was generally agreed that it would maybe be better, instead of fixing a price of 1/6 per head that we have a donation box placed in the tea hut.

The members of both committees were asked to be in attendance the following evening to lay out tables etc.

Mr. K. Palmer was coopted on to the committee. There being no further business, the chairman declared the meeting closed

Signed: W. Jackson, Captain and W. Scott, Honorary Secretary.

This is the story of the conversion of Lennel Golf Club to the Hirsel Golf Club. The copy minutes have been supplied by W.J. Murray, Past President, Captain and Champion of the Hirsel Golf Club.   

'Second to None: A History of Coldstream'

Written in 2010, the Society's book alludes to this crucial stage of transition for golf in Coldstream. Here is the text from the book on this, with some more history too.

The Hirsel Golf Club has had three lives. First there was a fairly rough and ready course up in the Hirsel Estate, then it moved to the Craw Green (where it was called the Lennel Golf Club) and in 1949 it moved back to the Hirsel Estate. Today it is one of the finest clubs in the Borders, with a turnover just short of £300,000 and high numbers of visitors in the good weather. The AGM of 1948, held in the school, agreed unanimously to wind up the Lennel Golf Club and make attempts to move to the Hirsel Estate. Only seven holes were in play at the Lennel Club and the two top holes had to contend with horses grazing on them despite discussions with Mrs Sitwell of Belmont House.  The course had been affected after the Second World War, having been dug up in the ‘Dig for Victory’ food-producing campaign. It hadn’t always been problematic though at the Lennel Golf Club because in March 1910 the committee of the recently formed Lennel Golf Club, which was under the presidency of Captain Waring, issued a circular inviting locals to join the golf club. Captain Waring had indicated that he was willing to throw his land open if locals were willing to play golf and become part of the club.  Play was expected to commence after 1 May 1910.
By 1948 though the ‘Hirsel Golf Club’ was conceived and the driving force behind the move was Bill Jackson, captain in 1948, the same Bill Jackson who was so prominent in Coldstream Burns Club. The popular account was that Bill approached the Factor, Mr Ferguson, who liked the idea but said it depended on the Earl of Home. When the Earl was approached, he said it depended on Mr Ferguson! Bill became the chief architect and builder with the help of volunteers and the total cost of laying the new course was £40. Everything in the garden was rosy except in May 1950 the green keeper was paid a week’s wage and dispensed with! In 1952 Mr Ferguson gave permission to the Club to erect a clubhouse and they commissioned one from the Wooler Golf Club. However, this decision was later reversed and the Wooler Golf Clubhouse never materialised. About the same time, and in an attempt to demonstrate the club was colourful, one brave man tried to have the post of Ladies Captain abolished. If that wasn’t enough hassle, all the greens had to be fenced to keep the sheep at bay. Later, with the reported derequisitioning of the former prisoner of war camp at the Hirsel by the Ministry of Works it was felt that the club should be interested in acquiring one or more of the huts behind the first tee. Mr McClure was delegated the task of bidding for the huts at auction and with the installation of calor gas equipment, the total cost of the two huts was £128.
Interestingly the sale of lemonade and crisps was banned forthwith after the loss of £6 from the box in the clubhouse. Golf balls were stolen from lockers and unfortunate tee boxes ended in the Leet Water. The Captain was given the task of interviewing the culprit’s parents and by all accounts did a good job. In the early 1960s the club was offered the free use of the Quarry Cottage on condition that it, and its garden, was kept in a reasonable state of repair. This offer was declined as nobody suitable could be found to live in it. Moles are a problem today and have been since the commencement of the club. In 1968 the mole catcher’s contract was extended to £12 per annum. Sheep were also a problem in the early days and the greens had to be fenced and for the first three months of the year the course was closed due to the lambing. During the winter the greens were fenced off and the sheep lay against the fence, causing patches. When the fences were taken down, the sheep weren’t interested as the grass proved too short!
A history of the modern golf club would be replete without a reference to the ‘Sunday Night Fun’ and the ‘Big Five’: Jack Proud, Jimmy ‘the Geet’ Guthrie, ‘Big Doug’ Turnbull, Peter Tait senior and Jock Fulton. This infamous group met and played regularly every Sunday evening and were allegedly somewhat of a law unto themselves, breaking every rule of fair play and etiquette, and having ‘automatic’ right to a 18:00 hours tee time. The course was converted to an 18 hole course in 1994 and the new clubhouse opened in 1996. Many celebrities have played at the Hirsel and these include Douglas Bader (Second World War Hero), Ronnie Corbett (Comedian of ‘The Two Ronnies’ fame), John Slater (‘Z Cars’), Ron Pickering (Athletics Coach and TV Commentator), the Duchess of Roxburgh, Peter Alliss and David Huish (both golfing professionals).
An unusual thing about the Hirsel Gents’ captaincy is that if your surname begins with ‘M’ you have a much greater chance of being captain. Now there is a fine example of useless information! But history tells us of this fact eg McFarlane, Mackay, Murray, Mole, Moralee, Milne, Mount, Melvin for example. The Club has had some marvellous golfers, none more so than today’s Wayne Ford, David Gardner and Andrew Milne, if we use their very low handicaps as a measure of quality. Looking back there have been some impressive champions, and course record holders, including five times Gents’ Champions John Lillico and Bruce Lunn, ten times Ladies Champion Mrs D. Little and nine times Ladies’ Champion Sheena Law. The original nine hole course record holder was the late Murray Ledgerwood (64) and not content with that, Murray holds the new eighteen hole course record with a 65.


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