The Evolution of Skelmorlie Golf Club: A Journey Through the Fairways
Situated on Beithglass Road in Skelmorlie, this fascinating golf club has undergone significant transformations since its establishment in 1891. In its earliest incarnation, the club featured a humble 9-hole course where golfers coexisted peacefully with grazing sheep. A pivotal shift occurred in 1909 with the addition of four unique holes, including the challenging "Bullfield" holes. This transformed the club into a rare 13-hole institution, leaving an indelible mark on its identity.
James Braid, the eminent course architect, lent his expertise to Skelmorlie in 1911, redesigning the existing 13 holes. For a period, a complete 18-hole round was realized by playing the first five holes twice. Golfers would kick off their round at what is now the 14th hole, facing the double challenge of strong south-westerly winds and water hazards on the right. This configuration certainly gave the course its own unique character and challenge, unlike any other in the golfing world.
The early nineties saw another wave of significant change spearheaded by Head Greenkeeper Sid Mercer, Greens Convenor Jimmy Cathcart, and Committee member Nigel Wright. Their combined efforts laid the groundwork for five new holes, culminating in a grand opening by Club Captain Nigel Wright in August 1999. This momentous occasion heralded the end of Skelmorlie as the world's oldest 13-hole club and ushered in a new era featuring a full 18-hole layout.
Today, Skelmorlie Golf Club boasts a well-rounded moorland course characterized by challenging par 4s and formidable par 3s. With a course length of 5030 yards and a par 65 from the white tees, this members-only parkland course has matured beautifully. Completing a round to one's handicap at Skelmorlie is no small feat and certainly a point of pride for any visiting golfer. In tracing its evolution from a 9-hole pasture to a refined 18-hole course, Skelmorlie stands as a testament to the enduring passion for golf that has guided its transformation over the decades.