The Royal Burgess Golfing Society of Edinburgh
traces its origins back to 1735, the foundation
date recorded in the Edinburgh Almanac from 1834 onwards. This date makes
Burgess the oldest golf society.
They played over Bruntsfield Links,
in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle, for the first hundred years of
their existence. Depicted above is Bruntsfield
Links as it was in 1750 and
below as it is today.
extant minutes start in 1773, and the extract
below is taken from Burgess Chronicles.
Links, near Edinburgh
the eighth day of April
one thousand seven hundred and seventy three
We Daniel Ker, Alexander Milne, and Charles Rhind, three
of the members of the Society of Golfers in and about Edinburgh,
taking into our consideration the present state of the said Society,
and that most of the old members are either dead or have neglected to
attend the meetings of the same, and we being inclined that the said
Society should be continued, - Have therefore resolved to admit and
receive the persons after named to be members, and who are to be
subject and liable to the rules and regulations hereafter insert, in
place of the old rules of the said Society, and to such other rules as
may be regularly enacted in time coming.
of the above resolution, the following gentlemen appeared and were
admitted, viz –
Orlando Hart, Tho
Cleghorn, David Williamson, Andrew Kinnear, John Skirving,
Charles Reoch, William Turnbull, James Thomson, Geo Stewart, Robert
William Vair, William Borthwick, William Armstrong, William Grant,
who all agreed and subscribed the rules hereto annexed.
Orlando Hart, a shoemaker and Deacon of the Trades in Edinburgh became the
first recorded captain, with Daniel Kerr, a goldsmith, as his Treasurer and
Charles Rhind, a merchant, as his Secretary. A uniform was adopted in 1790,
used to distinguish the golfers ‘to give warning to pedestrians in such a
way as to avoid injury.’
The Burgess used an establishment called Golfhall (sometimes
also called Foxtoun or Foxton) as their early
clubhouse from at least 1773 to 1792, when they
took a lease on a 'Captain Rollo’s house',
called both the ‘Golf Tavern’
in the Burgess Chronicles and the ‘Golf Hotel’
elsewhere. Both Golfhall and Golf Hotel,
seen in print below,
appear to have been demolished, but were probably just to the left of the
present day ‘Golf Tavern’ at 30 Wright’s Houses.
also used several
other taverns round and about Edinburgh for Council meetings.
Bruntsfield Links Golf
Hotel - Click for larger image
On 2 July 1800 the Edinburgh Town Council granted to the Burgess Society a Seal of
Cause whereby it became a legal corporation with power to hold property,
make its own by-laws and regulations and promote the game of golf amongst
its members. Upon the granting of the Seal of Cause, the Society became
known as the Edinburgh Burgess Golfing Society and changed its motto from
"Long and Far" to the more common golfing motto of the day "Far and Sure".
By the early 19th Century, Bruntsfield Links became increasingly congested
with people and traffic. The Burgess members
decided to move to Musselburgh in 1874 where they shared the nine-hole
course with The Honourable Company, Bruntsfield Links GS
and the (Royal) Musselburgh GC. There were about 100
Burgess members at this time and they occupied 10 Links Place (now
10 Balcarres Road below) for several years.
Burgess clubhouse Musselburgh
Within 20 years, with the
popularity of golf and the competition from the racing, Musselburgh was
felt to be overcrowded. In 1894, the Burgess
Society bought land from the Maitland family in Barnton, Edinburgh. The
course was laid out by Tom Morris and was formally opened on 3 May 1895. The
present clubhouse, which was
originally designed by RM Cameron and completed in May 1897, has been
extended in 2002 to provide ladies facilities.
Royal Edict dated 30 September 1929 of His Royal Highness King George
V, the Burgess changed
their name to The Royal Burgess Golfing Society of
official website of the Royal Burgess Golfing Society
gives more details of the history and terms of play. Visitors are
welcomed in off-peak times.
More details of early golf at Bruntsfield Links
More details of early golf at Musselburgh
More details of
foundation of Burgess Club
Accommodation in Edinburgh
Top to page