I was born just 9 miles from the home of golf so I think that golf was in my blood from my very earliest days and I had the opportunity of playing on the numerous golf courses which exist in the East Neuk of Fife. Those were Elie and Earlsferry, Lundin Links, Leven, Balcomie at Crail, Anstruther and of course St Andrews. But it wasn’t as
simple as that. Times were hard and I had no clubs or balls so I had to content myself from the age of about ten or eleven cycling along the three miles to Elie and for, in old money, two shillings and six pence, acting as a caddie for the many visitors who came to Elie just after the war to play golf. There were some very good golfers and of course there were some very bad ones as well. So it was a learning process and at that early age I was able to appreciate the likes of Henry Cotton and Ben Hogan who came to St Andrews and Carnoustie to play the game.
Historically, it is fairly well established that golf was devised by the Scots in the 14th and 15th century. The game became so popular in Scotland that in order to keep people from playing golf during that time that should have been employed in practicing archery, a military necessity, the Scottish Parliament in 1457 passed a law prohibiting the game of golf. The Scottish population, however, largely ignored this and similar laws and early in the 16 century, James IV, King of Scotland, took up the game . His grandaughter Mary, Queen of Scots played the game in France where she was educated. The young men who attended her on the golf links were known as cadets (pupils); the term was adopted later in Scotland and became caddie or caddy.
So my early life as a caddie had a long and historical connection in this well known home of Golf.
Like so many other things during my life, I was not able to take up the game of golf until things like my Rugby, work and other interests allowed more time. It was whilst I was in my twenties that I purchased a set of golf clubs and all the necessary equipment and started to play the odd round of golf. I joined the Dumfries and Galloway Golf Club in 1972 and have played regularly there ever since except for five years when I moved from the area to work in the Central Belt of Scotland area and became a member of the Callendar Golf Club. It was whilst working in the new town of Cumbernauld that I became involved in the development of the Westerwood Golf Club which was designed by Dave Thomas and with input from Seve Ballesteros. Attached to the Golf Club is an Hotel and leisure complex together with a large and attractive housing development. The course is an attractive one of championship standard and I envisage that the Ryder Cup or some other prestigeous event will take place here in the future.
I returned to Dumfries and Galloway to retire in 1989 and rejoined the Golf Club. I had many happy memories of this Club where my good friends Bill and Cecil previously joined me for regular games and various outings to other golf clubs and courses, firstly in Scotland and then abroad in Spain (the Cost Del Sol) Portugal (Algarve) and Ireland. Those were great times as we ticked off games at Carnoustie, the old course at St Andrews, Gleneagles, Prestwick, Troon and Turnburry as well as Attalya Park and Sotogrande in Spain and Villamura and Palmares in Portugal. I am still playing at the Dumfries and Galloway Club to day on a couple of days per week in both summer and winter.
Seve giving a golf demonstration at the opening of Westerwood Golf Course in Central Scotland (left) and photographed with Edith at the reception afterwards (above right)
Cecil, Bill and Jim golfing in Portugal (below left) and Jim at the Kilarney Golf club in Ireland