‘Granite City’ has a golf tradition, which goes back much further than he
foundation of its oldest club, Royal Aberdeen Golf Club in 1780.
Apart from a mention of golf in the Aberdeen Council records in 1565,
earliest dated reference anywhere in the world to
a golf hole was in here in 1625, when a local Aberdeen record discusses some
military exercises ‘in the principal parts of the links betwixt the first
hole and the Quenis (sic) hole.’
Some pessimist historians try to pass this
reference off as a quarry pit
or similar, but it would have been too
disrespectful to use the Queen’s name in such a context, and the term ‘the
first hole’ really admits of no other interpretation except the first golf
Kings Links looking south to former
Queens Links site of first golf hole
The matter is settled in favour of the golfing interpretation in 1636, when
Mr David Wedderburn, Master of Aberdeen Grammar School, published his ‘Vocabula’.
This was a Latin Grammar, using exemplars of golf to help teach Latin to
small boys. The Golf section
was titled ‘Baculus’. Baculus,
-i (m) was a stick, walking stick or augural staff.
This supports, as least as far as Wedderburn believed, the derivation
of the term Golf as meaning
'club' allied possibly to the Teutonic term ‘kolbe’ and Low Dutch word ‘kolf’. Other terms, however odd the Latin vocabulary used, indicate all the
trappings of the modern golf game: bunkers, golf balls, teaze (sic), the
grip, the uphill lie, a bunker club and “Good shot!” Most important here is
the Caddy’s advice and reference to the golf hole.
Dirige recta versus foramen!
which translated means
Aim straight for the hole!
Foramen, -inis, (n) is a hole, ‘an opening produced
by boring’. All these terms must have been well known by this time to the
small boys learning Latin. The two pieces of evidence together, makes it
certain there were golf holes at Aberdeen by 1625. More details can be found
of O Geddes and D Hamilton. As the invention of the hole is generally
considered to be the single most important development that the Scots
brought to the game of golf, this, in turn, makes Aberdeen the
un-acknowledged historical home of links golf.
Play was initially on the Queen's Links and over the Broad Hill. The map
above shows the Kings Links, owned by the Aberdeen
City Council and a public course. It is north of where the Queen's Links
were, which land has now been redeveloped, and right in
front of Aberdeen Pittodrie football ground, home of the 'Dons'.
If you play the Kings Links, you are almost certainly playing some part of
the links that was used in olden days and if look south you will see the
site of the first recorded golf-hole, now probably under either the
playing fields or the Queens Links Leisure Centre.
See picture above.
The Royal Aberdeen Golf Club played initially on these links before
moving in 1888 to Balgownie, shown further north still at the Bridge of Don.
There are three clubs playing over the Kings
Links course. They are the Bon Accord founded 1872, Northern (1897)
and Caledonian (1899) and they have clubhouses nearby.
More history of the Royal Aberdeen Golf Club
This is the
for the public Kings Links course
Accommodation and attractions available on the
Aberdeen and Grampian Tourist Board website
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