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Prestonpans brings us. as we have seen. into contact with some famous golfers of the last century. Its chief historical associations arc not. however, of a golfing kind. Even its salt and its beer are of small importance compared with its famous battle of 1745. in which the galIant Prince Charlie and his HighIand forces ignominiously scattered the English troops. The golfer should have a look round about this interesting old place before he asks anything about its links for . in this case. there is nothing particularly inviting to make him 'press' for a visit to the green. There is the Parish Church where 'Jupiter' Carlyle's father preached and from the steeple of which the 'mighty swiper' beheld the battle, then there is the ancient octagonal cross at Preston where every second Thursday of October "St Jerome's Fair" used to be held. At a later period the 'chapmen' of the three Lothians used to hold games near it, dining afterwards in the hotel or in the Parochial Grammar School, to the dux of which, in 1855 and 1856. they gave a beautiful silver medal with the cross engraved on one side and the tower of Preston on the other. The tower from which a splendid view of the sea. the Fife coast and the rich surrounding country can be obtained was. it is supposed, originally a fortalice of the Earls of Home when they bore almost princely sway in the south-east of Scotland. It was burned down by the Earl of Hertford in 1544. by Cromwell in 1650 and through accident in 1663 when it was abandoned. A fund was raised by the late Mr Hislop of Castlepark to repair the ancient keep and arrest its further decay so that it is now well preserved. Bankton House, the residence of Colonel Gardiner. is near to the railway station and a monument to that galIant officer, erected by public subscription, stands in front of the house. Many other places of interest arc within easy reach, but these may suffice for attention before introducing the subject of golf at this old-world place.


The old golfers of Prestonpans, when they formed themselves into a club in 1856. very wisely gave their club a connection with the famous battle by naming it after the venerable thorn-tree which marks the spot where Colonel Gardiner fell, and from which he was carried into Tranent Manse to die. The name was also reminiscent of the Links of Leith where one of the holes went by that name. We do not hear of 'Jupiter Carlyle', Lord Drummore, or any of these last-century golfers playing on the Prestonpans Links, but that play went on there by the beginning of the present century there can be no doubt. At one time the golfers used to play up by the back of Fowler's Brewery to a point nearly opposite the parish church. The place where the most westerly putting-green was situated is still designated 'Ringan's Hole'.(*1) What prompted the players to organise themselves into a club we do not discover from any written records they may have left in the way of minutes. Such minutes, we believe once existed but went missing. Indeed the lot of the Thorntree Club has not been at all a happy one. At times its existence was so very feeble that it was supposed to be dead. In these hibernating or comatose periods the club records must have disappeared. That the club was healthy and vigorous at the outset, there are many evidences. We have before us the original set of Rules and Regulations which, as they contain some original points and are not long, may here be quoted:
Rules of the Prestonpans Thorntree Golf Club formed on 22nd December 1856

Mr John Grieve. Convener
Mr Thos. Pow, Treasurer Mr William Carse. Secretary
Committee - Messrs. John Grieve. Wm. Carse, Robert Smith. Thos. Pow.
John Edgar, Robert Hay, Geo. Christison

I. The club shall hold two meetings annually, viz. First Monday of April and last Monday of August, the former for playing for the prizes, and the latter for playing for the medal. The annual subscription of two shillings and sixpence to be paid at the August meeting.
2. The business of the club shall be conducted by a Chairman. Secretary, and the Committee to be elected at the August meeting of the club.
3. In playing for the Medal, three rounds shall be played. The players to be paired off by ballot thus:- the last two's on the list to mark for the first two's, and vice versa. The cards being shown to the competitors at each hole. in order to satisfy them.
4. He who holes the round in fewest strokes shall be considered the successful competitor.
5. The party first starting off shall be allowed to reach the second hold previous to the succeeding party striking off.
6. In the event of a ball being lost sight of, five minutes shall be allowed to look for it. and if not found, the party losing the ball shall drop one near where it was lost. lose a stroke, and play with the iron.
7. When a ball is lying where it is considered unfit to be played, the party shall be allowed to put the same on the green, but behind the hazard. if on the beach on the sand. by losing a stroke and playing with the iron.
8. All loose impedimenta within twelve inches of the ball may be lifted when the ball lies on the green. The putting-green may be cleared within twenty yards of the hole.
9. When the balls lie within six inches of each other, the one nearest the hole shall be lifted and placed, after playing the other, as near as possible to its former position.
10. Whatever happens to a ball in playing, such as striking a person or cattle or any animal, it shall be considered a rub of the green and submitted to.
1 1. lf any player move his ball previous to striking it. he shall lose a stroke and no pressing of the green whatever shall be allowed, under penalty of losing a stroke.
12. New holes shall be made on the medal day at places agreed on by the Committee.
13. No speaking or shearing the ground to a player allowed. When a party is playing, a breach of this rule shall forfeit sixpence for each offence. (*2)
14. Members may be admitted into the club at any time during the year by the recommendation of the Committee.
15. Any member being in arrears shall not be allowed to play.
16. Each member shall provide himself with a copy of these rules.
17. All disputes to be settled by Committee.
Some of the best golfers in East Lothian were to be found among the members of Thorntree Club. This is proved by the fact that the team from this club (Messrs F Burnet, J Burnet. W Carse and Robert Hay) won the County Cup on the First and second occasions on which it was competed for at Luffness. On October 20th. in the year 1859. a 'grand' national tournament was held over Bruntsfield Links. Seven clubs dent representatives, viz Burgess. Blackheath. Manchester. Tantallon. Warrender. St Leonard's and the Thorntree. Each club was allowed to send as many representatives as it chose. There were thirty-rive entries at one guinea each (forfeit, one-half). the competition being inaugurated by the Warrender Golf Club. and thrown 'open to any established golfing association'. The Warrender Club added £30 from their funds towards prize-money. The competition was by stokes. players being equalised by a handicap and drawn in classes. Four rounds of the green (each of seven holes) were to be played, and for the occasion the order of play was the 'reverse' of the usual round. in order that strangers might cope on an equal footing with players who were up to the green. For the Thorntree Club there entered Messrs. F Burnet. R Tait. W Carse and D M'Cuaig. The two last named were in the First class, playing from scratch, while Burnet and Tait had each twelve off. The first prize were to a Mr R B Shaw whose score was 159-12= 147. The best scratch score was that of Mr James Williamson. from the Burgess. 150. Close upon his. came that of Mr M'Cuaig from the Thorntree Club. 151. The Scotsman, in reporting the match, says:-
Mr M'Cuaig. a young player, has already gained a laurel at St Andrews against the medal-winner of Scotscraig. and his performance on Burntsfield. graceful, scientific, and certain, fully justifies the favourable opinion we then expressed of this player's golfing talent. In summing up. the reporter on the same occasion remarks:-
The point in the tournament which seems to us objectionable is. that the first prize (plate, value 25 guineas) should be won by the adventitious aid of odd strokes. It cannot be doubled for a moment that the most beautiful display of golf-craft was shown by James Williamson and D M'Cuaig. and it was felt by every golfer that the palm had passed from deserving brows, a reflection which has had to be made too often since that day. The Lord Provost of the city - Sir John Melville - declared the issue of the tournament to an enthusiastic crowd, and. in the course of his remarks, said that the magistrates of Edinburgh desired nothing more than to see the noble pastime of golf perpetuated and extended in their city.
At a dinner in the evening, presided over by the poet - James BalIantine. of the Warrender Club -about sixty' were present. Thorntree. though not providing the champion of that day. came very near to it by the find performance of Mr M'Cuaig. which drew forth such high eulogium from the Scotsman. The event was meant to be an annual one. but no more was heard of it: the handicap system most likely having been fatal to its continuance.
Of the old players of the Thorntree Club a good many interesting stories arc told elsewhere in this volume. One about Robert Hay may be added. He had the honour of doing several holes in one each. in the same round. On three successive occasions the ball was lost and a fresh one put down. and when the holes were reached it was found in each case that the original ball was in the hole. It turned out that his (Mr Hay's) retriever. 'Ocean', ran up when each ball was played and put it into the hole. The old course at Prestonpans used to be of six holes on the narrow links to the east of the town. Par play for these was something like 453453=24. About twenty years ago Mr W Doleman. Glasgow. did three rounds of the green in an average of this figure, making 72. which was the record of the course. Possibly the old club might have vanished out of sight altogether but for Mr John Edgar, one of the original members and a good player, who still survives. On our first visit to the green a few years ago, we found that he kept the flags of the holes in his office, from which we adjourned to have two rounds, the 'provost' carrying the whole paraphernalia under his arms. Had the precaution not been taken to remove these after the game they would never have been seen again, so low had the condition of golf sunk at the Salt Pans.
The club in 1893 became a little lively. In November 1894 a movement for the enlargement of the course was started, and a deputation of the golfers, consisting of Captain Dewar. Provost Edgar. Dr M'Ewan. Messrs E Johnston (secretary), John SandiIands. D Adams, John Bower. Thomas M'Walter. C Lamb. John Kay and William Wilson. waited on the trustees of the Schaw Bequest, by whom the ground is held for behoof of various beneficiaries, to get the course extended by including thirty-six acres of ground on the opposite side of the road from the old course. This request was granted and a new course made. consisting of four holes on the old ground ( 13 acres), and eight holes on the new ground (33 acres). At a meeting in February 1895. it was resolved to 'reconstitute the club as at 1st January last', with the adoption of the old rules, subject to any revision that might be rendered necessary. The first match over the new course took place on 18th May 1895. The starting-point is in the new ground close to Prestonpans. After the first hole. the player crosses the road and plays the four holes of the old course, then passes back over the road to play the remaining seven holes in the new ground, finishing near where he started. The distances of the holes are as follow :-
1.270 yards, 2.265: 3.310: 4.120, 5.260: 6.200, 7.260: 8.300: 9. 310: 10.325: 1 1.260: and 12. 250; making a total of 3130 yards for the twelve holes.

Firth of Forth
PIan of the (new) Thorntree Course in 1895

The entrance-fee of the revived Thorntree Club is 10s.. and the annual subscription is the same. The first captain under the new regime is Mr F Cadell and the (alleged) joint-secretaries are Messrs G Hunter and E Johnston. As we have failed to draw anything out of these gentlemen by the horses of her Majesty's mail. the club must pardon us if our illustrations of the good old Thorntree arc not so copious as its antiquity deserved.


The idea of bringing the golfers of the various county clubs together in friendly rivalry was first put forward by the Tantallon Club in the year 1864. A report of the first county tournament, which was held at GulIane on September 26th of that year, appears in the Haddingtonshire Courier of September 30th. with the following preamble:-
We doubt much whether the golfing strength of East Lothian has ever yet been fully developed or displayed. Possessing at least four excellent play links - GulIane. North Berwick. Dunbar and Prestonpans and no fewer than six clubs, the golfers of East Lothian ought to have taken a higher rank than they have yet done amongst the devotees of this - the king of outdoor games.
The object of the gathering was evidently to bring out the golfing strength of the county, and to encourage match play.
In the GulIane county tournament four clubs competed - the East Lothian. Dirleton Castle. Tantallon and the Thorntree. Each club was represented by four players. These were balloted against each other in pairs, and in the order of the ballot the match was worked out to the final round. Each competitor contributed 5s. as a sweepstake and the sum thus raised was the prize of the tournament. John Gourlay of Musselburgh was. by mutual consent, chosen umpire and discharged the duties to the satisfaction of all concerned. Willie Park of Musselburgh was also present. The gathering brought a harvest of riches to the local caddies and was the most interesting that "the oldest inhabitant' had yet witnessed on the green. Subjoined are the results of the various matches in this tournament:-
First Round
1. J R Whitecross (Tantallon) beat R Tait (Thorntree) by 11 holes.
2. Rob Hay (Thorntree) beat J CalIander (E. Lothian) by I hole.
Second Round
1. W Craven (Dirleton Castle) beat D Croall (Tantallon) by 2 holes.
2. D Smith (Tantallon) beat R Hay (Thorntree) by 4 holes.
3. W Carse (Thorntree) beat R Howden (E. Lothian) by 4 holes.
4. A Nicol (Thorntree) beat J R Whitecross (Tantallon) by 2 holes.
Third Round
1. A Nicol (Thorntree) beat D Smith (Tantallon) by 2 holes.
2. W Carse (Thorntree) beat W Craven (Dirleton Castle) by 2 holes.
Fourth Round
Messrs Nicol and Carse divided.

The county competition thus initiated by the Tantallon Club was not continued. But soon after the formation of the Luffness Club in 1867 the Early of Wemyss (then Lord Elcho) presented a massive silver cup for annual competition among the clubs of the county. This bears the name of THE COUNTY CUP and is the most coveted of all our county trophies. Each club sends four players. these four being generally the best representatives of their various clubs. When the clubs have been balloted against each other, the competition goes on in foursomes, two of the one club against two of the other, until the final round determines the destiny of the cup for the year. The scores of both foursomes are. of course, taken into account in deciding each match.
The first competition for the County Cup was held at Luffness on October 17th. 1868. when twenty-four competitors, representing six clubs, appeared. The draw was as follows:-East Lothian v Tantallon : Dunbar v Thorntree : Luffness v Haddington.
The final lay between Thorntree and Luffness and the former won by five holes, both couples defeating their opponents. Lord Elcho. Sir Hew Dalrymple. Mr Hope of Luffness and many others followed with interest the fortunes of the various clubs.
The following table gives the names of the winning clubs and their four representatives since the institution of the cup.
1868 - Thorntree Club
F Burnet. Wm Carse
Jas Burnet: Robert Hay

1869 - Thorntree Club
F Burnet. Wm Carse
Jas Burnet: Robert Hay

1870 - Tantallon Club
Peter Brodie: Geo Campbell
J R Whitecross: Jas Brodie

1871- Luffness Club
Alex Punton; P Hunter
Peter Brown; Alex Brown

1872- Luffness Club
Alex Punton; Alex Brown
F C Dickson; Peter Hunter

1873 - East Lothian Club
T Begbie; Capt J B Hay
Colin Campbell; Jas Deans

*1 Our authority for this was the late Rev. Dr. Struthers. minister of the parish, who was well versed in antiquarian and historical matters.

*2 We do not remember to have seen anywhere else a rule like this. where a fine was exacted in penalty. 'Shearing the ground' is a phrase which we have not met before. Rule 3 is also peculiar to Prestonpans.

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