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The History of Baberton
Acknowledgement Information in this section is largely taken from the booklet, ‘Baberton Golf Club - The First Hundred Years’ by the late Gordon Grant, Past Captain of the Club, written in 1992 in anticipation of the Club’s Centenary in 1993.

In 1890, a group of influential residents of Colinton and Juniper Green had a nine hole course laid out at Torphin Hill and played there for two seasons. Four of the group, holidaying at Lundin Links, after the day’s play retired to a local hostelry and over cigars and a social glass were discussing the then current boom in golf which then, as now, was popularised as providing healthy open air exercise.

“Why”, asked one of them, James Christie, later to become the first Vice Captain of the Club, “with courses mushrooming all over the place don’t we have one near the village?” That remark was to be the genesis of Baberton Golf Club and the group returned home resolved to find a suitable site which they did very quickly. In 1893, having gained an initial lease from the proprietor of a 40 acre field called High Park, part of the historic Baberton Estate, they constituted a golf club on 31st May, formed a provisional committee and Baberton Golf Club was born.

 

Having abandoned Torphin Hill, conversion of the field was now urgent. The expert help of Willie Park Jnr was enlisted and he prepared a layout for 9 holes. Work started immediately and the first course was officially opened on 15th July 1893.

As a tenant, Baberton Golf Club was fortunate in having as its superior, Sir James Gibson Craig of Riccarton Bt, himself a keen golfer and a member of the Honourable Company of Golfers. Sir James was well disposed towards his new and unusual tenant and from the beginning, whilst protecting the interests of the tenant farmers and fuears on his estate, was sympathetic to the land needs of the fledgling club. As a result, in November 1893, to High Park was added Wilderness Park and Whitelaw Park extending in all to some 75 acres but excluding 8½ acres comprising Wilderness Wood and Quarry Wood. Willie Park was recalled and laid out 12 holes and then 18 holes, permission having been given to play across the gully at the then short 6th hole. New Years Day 1894 was celebrated with the opening of both the extended course and a ladies short hole course.

 

By 1907, with an ever increasing membership causing congestion on both courses, it became clear that more land was required. The first addition came in 1911 when a lease was taken on a 16 acre field to the south west, then part of Easter Currie Farm. Ben Sayers of North Berwick was commissioned to plan new holes and extend some existing ones. The next milestone was in 1926 when the Club purchased the course and in season 1929/1930 the decision was taken to embark upon a major reconstruction of the course. In May 1926 James Braid had submitted a plan for this reconstruction and this plan was adopted but this did mean that the ladies short hole course had to form part of the new design. To compensate the ladies, they were given additional privileges on the extended course. In 1936, a strip of ground some 60 feet wide by 1400 feet long bordering the 9th, 17th and beginning of the 18th holes was purchased and in 1952, thanks to the generosity of Jock Waugh (Captain 1957-1959), owner of the neighbouring property, ‘Windyridge’, the area of its extensive vegetable garden was donated to the Club in 1952. This ground provided for the current 1st tee and the area where the current Professional Shop is sited.

 

In 2001, the then Council obtained permission from the Members to investigate the possibility of selling the current Clubhouse and Car Park area to a developer on the basis that a new Clubhouse would be constructed on the existing first fairway. It was subsequently agreed to relay all greens as sand based greens which would be able to withstand the vagaries of the Scottish climate and be able to accommodate the greatly increased number of rounds of golf being played at Baberton compared to the number played when the original greens were designed and constructed.

At present, 2008, fifteen of the greens have been re-laid and it is anticipated that the remaining three and the new Clubhouse will be constructed within the next two years. The Original Parks and how they relate to the Current Holes

High Park Holes 1, 2, 3 (part), 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18.

Wilderness Park Holes 3 (part), 4, 5, 6 (part), 10 (part) and 13 (part).

Whitelaw Park Holes 6 (part), 7 (part), 12 (part) and 13 (part).

Field at Easter Currie Farm Holes 7 (part), 8, 9, 10 (part), 11 and 12 (part).

World Wars I and II and the HLI Cup Typical of the vastly increased number of military establishments in wartime was the encampment at Malleny, Currie, which led to the special relationship between the Club and the 3rd Battalion, Highland Light Infantry, during the 1914 - 1918 conflict. The privilege of play free of charge was extended to its officers and non-commissioned officers. The compliment was returned by the battalion arranging for squads to work on the course so minimising the neglect caused by absence of greens staff on active service.

In respect of the kindness shown by Baberton Golf Club, the battalion presented the Club with a handsome cup following a match between the Club and their Officers in 1917. This cup, the HLI Cup, is still played for today and is one of the major trophies played for each year by the gentlemen at Baberton.

By the outbreak of the 1939 - 1945 war, the development of military aircraft posed a more ominous and direct threat to the country. After the retreat from Dunkirk, any flat area in Great Britain, particularly ground near the east coast, became a potential landing area for airborne attack. Golf courses were no exception and immobilising poles were quickly erected on the more open parts of Baberton.

In order to comply with the measures of the Midlothian Agricultural Executive Committee in its campaign for national food production, an area of ground at the 9th and 10th holes was given over to crops. This area, referred to as ‘Baberton’s Patriotic Potato Patch’ was de- requisitioned in 1945.

 


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