IN THE BEGINNING
It is a reasonable assumption that there were lively discussions in the howffs of Alyth over 100 years ago. A new golf club was being mooted, an undertaking of no small magnitude in these days.
Of course, it was still the Victorian era and membership to the club would be confined to those and such as those deemed suitable. An informal meeting of worthies from the business and professional ranks was held in the Airlie Arms Hotel on the 4th of August, 1894. A general discussion on the formation of a golf club took place, but it was 17 days later at a meeting in the Town Hall that the first real milestone was reached. At the instigation of the Rev. J. R. McLaren, The Alyth Golf Club was officially born. His proposal was seconded by Mr A. M. Ferguson and 51 gentlemen and 17 ladies intimated their willingness to join. The meeting resolved that gentlemen be charged 10/6d as original members of the club plus an annual subscription of 10/6d. The ladies paid the subscription only. Another man of the cloth, Rev. Dr. Gordon McPherson of Ruthven, was elected captain with the Rev. Mr McLaren as his second in command. Since then there have been 31 other captains of the club, but none aspiring to the title of Reverend!
At that first historic meeting on the 21st of August, Tom Morris of St. Andrews was engaged to sketch a plan of a 9-hole course. This he completed in two visits for which he received an honorary sum of £1.10/-. This original course was on the heathery muir, as the locals described the area, but today's golfers will pinpoint it better by visualising where a good-going slice out of bounds at the present 8th hole would finish.
The course was laid out by a Mr Hunter, a Meigle contractor, who must have bent to his task with a will. Whatever the state of readiness of the course, the official opening was on the 19th of September. Miss Isabella Ross, daughter of the Rev. John Ross of Balloch, did the needful by striking a ball from the first tee with a silver-mounted driver which had been presented to her earlier. The first match was a foursome consisting of the Rev. Dr. McPherson and the Rev. Mr McLaren against Provost Orchar and Mr Tom Morris. The latter recorded a one-hole victory.
Meantime, the lady members, no doubt chatting over tea and crumpets, got down to fund-raising with the formation of a clubhouse in mind. On the 29th of September they elected a committee - Miss C. Gordon McPherson of Ruthven Manse; Miss I. N. Ferguson, Heston; Miss G. Smith, Airlie Mount; Miss J. Pattullo, Airlie Arms and Miss I. N. Thorns, Airlie Street - to organise a bazaar. Not one of those 10am. to noon affairs either. They set their sights on a two-day event on the 16th and 17th of August 1895.
The local press had a preview of the various stalls and commented that: "preparations have been carried through with unwearying alacrity. The outcome is that the Town Hall presents stalls quite groaning with goods and articles, in which the useful, the beautiful and the artistic are lavishly represented." One of the local dignitaries, Sir James Ramsay, made a speech well laced with witticisms at the opening ceremony. At one stage he quoted his nephew, a local poet, who summed up the game of golf thus:-
Goufin' a the day
Daen' nae work ava;
Rinnin' aboot wi' a bag o' sticks
After a wee bit ba'.
Golfing all the Day
Doing no work at all;
Running about with a bag of sticks
After a small bit ball.
A raffle was held in conjunction with the bazaar with an array of prizes which make interesting reading today. Here's a selection: a fat pig, two rabbits, three ducks, a bride's cake, a "splendid" sewing machine, a pet lamb, two bags of oatmeal, a potato grubber, a Persian carpet, a mangle, etc., etc. The raffle made £16. 15/6d and the bazaar and donations, £443. 1/3d. Some pundits reckon that would be about £10,000 in today's money. So, ladies, a sterling effort in more ways than one!