Strathpeffer Social

Strathpeffer Community Collage

The club house of Strathpeffer Golf Club.

Looking west from the club house.

This photograph, by Urquhart, Dingwall, is not included in the Golf Club centenary publication.  It shows Herd and Massey playing at Strathpeffer on 12 September 1907 when Herd was driving off.

The social life of Strathpeffer

Strathpeffer Amateur Operatic Society 1959-1982

Strathpeffer Burns Club

Royal British Legion

Strathpeffer and District Pipe Band

Click above to view


The bowling green (Oct. 1998) in the grounds of the Strathpeffer Pavilion.


The cricket pavilion, in the grounds of Castle Leod, also used by Caberfeidh Shinty Club and the annual Strathpeffer Highland Gathering (first Saturday in August).  This building was replaced in 2013/2104.

The wicket

And this is what the pavilion looked like in the early part of the 20th century.


The curling pond (Oct. 1998)


The tennis court in the grounds of Strathpeffer Pavilion with St Anne's Church in the background.  The area can be marked out for two tennis courts or one full basketball court.

Strathpeffer Spa Golf Club Centenary

James Christie (President) and Peter McCutcheon (Captain)

Strathpeffer Golf Club is proud to be celebrating its centenary this year, not only because it is a magnificent milestone to achieve 100 years but is also a tribute to all those who have been associated with the club in one form or another over the years to help attain such a celebration.

The course, originally laid out by Willie Park, is one of, if not THE most picturesque in the country with one of its many features being the pond at the third.  It was at the turn of the century that the course went from a 9-hole to an 18-hole and while it had been under the watchful eye of that pawky professional Willie Park, already elderly. In latter years, among the greenkeepers, was Frank Hoy for over 25 years to be followed by Bert Gillespie who gave the club 14 years service. Present greenkeeper is the popular Donnie Dingwall.  In 1920 Frank Hoy took over as professional, a post he held with great distinction until the early fifties.

It can be said without fear of contradiction that improvements to the course and the clubhouse have been ongoing over those 100 years and it is indeed a credit to all those who gave of their spare time by volunteering to put their 'shoulder to the wheel' whenever required to do so.  The clubhouse has been extensively improved over the years with major changes (the removal of the verandah) by club captain the late Egan Roska in 1968 and the complete renovation of the clubhouse and living accommodation at the rear during George Spark's captaincy in 1974, and formally opened by Lord Cromartie, Castle Leod.

We hope that the contents of this booklet, tracing in a nutshell the 100 years of the club, will make interesting reading for young and old.

The members of the 1988 Men's Committee work as hard as their enthusiastic predecessors did in order to meet the challenge of today's golfing public.

They are, back row, left to right: George Spark, the energetic Match and Handicap Convenor, ex-captain, son of a professional golfer and father of Junior Champion, William Spark; Ian Michie who has already served three terms as Captain and whose professional background as an agriculturalist has proved highly beneficial to the course; Ernie Arkwright, Junior Convenor; A. G. Thompson; A. Burnett; D. Bethune, Greens Convenor; Bill Robins; Callum Scally. Front row, left to right: Arthur Gair, Vice-Captain; D. MacLeod, Treasurer, who with his wife Cathie makes a formidable Mixed Foursomes partnership; Peter McCutcheon, Captain, a native of Croy, has been a committee member for seven years, been playing golf for 18 years and has a handicap of 13; Jimmy Christie, Club President and a retired Dingwall dentist, is an ex-captain and a native of Dundee; Norman Roxburgh has fought his way gallantly through a mountain of paperwork during his 16 years in office as Secretary and Tommy Houston, a native of Kilmarnock and long-serving member.

On the Fairway in the Early Days

From its opening in 1888, the history of the Strathpeffer Spa Golf Course has been one of continual expansion and development, culminating in what it is today - an extremely fine 18-hole inland course with almost unsurpassed views. We are indebted to the far-sighted individuals who convened those long years ago in the Pavilion Buildings, under the chairmanship of the enthusiastic Mr Gunn, when it was resolved to form a golf club for the district. We must also thank the chroniclers and photographers who left us such interesting records of these events.

Miss Lawson

From the "Ross-shire Journal" reports of June 15 and 22, 1888, we learn that the newly laid golf course was formally opened on Saturday afternoon 'in the presence of a large and fashionable gathering of ladies and gentlemen', that the weather was delightful and that there was a Hungarian band in attendance. Among the noteworthy local people and visitors attending, was Miss Lawson of Leys Castle, Inverness, to whom fell the honour of hitting the first shot.
Introducing her, Mr Gunn of Nutwood first drew attention to the magnificent view that was to be obtained from the course, stretching as it did across the beautiful wooded policies of Castle Leod, down the Strath to the Cromarty Firth and over to the Black Isle. It is a view that continues to enthral.
'Miss Lawson then struck off a very nice tee shot, which went over the brow of the hill towards the first hole, amidst the cheers of the onlookers. Mr Fortune, of the Elie Golf Club, who had the honour of being asked to play with Miss Lawson round the course, next struck off his ball. The approach to the finish of the first hole was eagerly watched by many of the crowd who had gone forward to the rising knoll, where a good view of .the first green could be seen.
The following couples then started: Captain MacHardy, Inverness Club and Mr Orr Paterson, Prestwick Club; Captain Leslie, Dornoch Club and Dr J. M. Paterson, Inverness; Mr Keith Jopp, Aberdeen Club and Dr Bruce; Mr Phillips, Bruntsfield Club and Mr Deas, St Andrews Club; Mr Scott Davidson, Elie Club and Mr Easton, Inverness Club; Mr Robertson, Tantallon Club and Mr Thompson, Bruntsfield; Mr Bain, Leven Club and Mr J. Birnie, Inverness Club and numerous other couples, amongst them a large contingent from the Inverness Club.

This wonderful old photograph, loaned by Mr Jackie Fraser, does full credit to the breath-taking views from the course and shows a lady golfer of a bye-gone age putting expertly, despite the encumbrance of her long skirt and elaborately plumed hat.

Fortune smiles

Miss Lawson returned with the highly creditable score of 64 strokes to Mr Fortune's 46. His is the lowest yet made on the green but it may be mentioned that Mr MacHardy and Mr Birnie of the Inverness Club also returned with the same score.

A number of short speeches were afterwards made by Mr Gunn, Major Cash, Mr MacHardy, Mr Leslie, Mr Scott Davidson, Mr G. R. Galloway and Mr Deas. Cake and wine were handed round and the company dispersed, greatly pleased with the successful opening of the Spa Golf Course.


Harking back to the earlier origins of the club, Mr Gunn describes in a letter how those interested in creating a golf course had despaired of finding a suitable site. Then, the late Mr George Galloway of Inverness, an experienced golfer, declared that Ulladale could be made one of the most attractive inland courses in the country.
It was fortunate, therefore, that the estate authorities kindly granted the site at Ulladale which was laid out on a number of sloping fields around the curling pond, most of which had been under grass for some years. Furthermore, the ground was placed at the disposal of the club free for that year.
At the first Pavilion Buildings meeting when it was resolved to form a golf club to be called the Strathpeffer Spa Golf Club, much support was given by golfers like Mr Keith Jopp, ex-captain of Aberdeen Golf Club, Mr Bain, member of the Council of Leven Golf Club, Mr Orr Paterson, Elie, Dr G. R. Galloway, Inverness, and others


It was unanimously agreed that the club should consist of a president, vice-presidents, captain, a council of five, a secretary, a treasurer and an Hon keeper of the green. The filling of the offices of president, vice-presidents and captain were meanwhile deferred but the council was elected as follows: Mr Gunn, Convenor; Mr MacEwan, Park House; Mr MacLennan, Timaru; Mr Harrow and Mr MacAulay. Mr William Gunn, secretary, Mr Cameron, treasurer and Mr MacAulay Hon keeper of the green.


Mr Keith Jopp moved that the annual subscription be 5s with no entrance fee for the first season and, in doing so, very kindly promised to give an annual present to the club to be played for at one of the matches during the year. It is interesting to note that a number of members were enrolled in the club on the opening afternoon.

Nine holes

The first course was a nine-hole one, described as follows: Ten minutes walk from the Pump-room brings players to the first teeing ground. The course then descends by a gradual slope to the first hole, which will not be a difficult one to play.
The second will, however, try a golfer's skill, as, in his tee shot, he has to lift the ball over a small burn fringed with young trees and woe betide him if he bungles his shot. From this hole the course begins to ascend over some dangerous ground onto the fifth or further out hole, placed on a whin-covered knoll of natural grass, and from which a fine view over the beautifully wooded grounds of Castle Leod is obtained.
In the remainder of the course to the home hole, there is not much hazard, but as it ascends to the eighth hole to the top of a grass-covered hill over-looking the whole course, it will prove an interesting part to play.


For some little time the course and greens, as is the case in all inland courses to begin with, will be rough and rather troublesome to play, but by a little attention and care, and as much play as possible, a number of golfers who are staying at the Strath, and who have kindly given assistance in the laying out of the greens, think it will be a very enjoyable one. The putting greens are being put into order as fast as possible, and Saturday, the 16th June is proposed for the opening game.
Among those present were: Mr and Mrs Lawson, Leys Castle; Mr and Mrs Orr Paterson, Elie; Major and Mrs Houston, Kintradwell; Mrs and Miss Turnbull, Tarbat Villa, Strathpeffer; Mr Davidson of Cairnie; Mr and Mrs Scott Davidson, Cairnie House, Strathpeffer; Mrs Sandison, Ayton; Mr and Mrs Philips, Salisbury House, Strathpeffer; Mr G. and Miss Deas, Kinettas House; Mr, Mrs and Miss Thompson, Edinburgh; Mr and Mrs Robertson, Edinburgh; Mrs Menzies, Banavie; Mr Keith Jopp, Aberdeen; Mr and Mrs W. Hamilton Bell, Edinburgh; Miss Davidson, Ravenswood, Inverness; the Misses Galloway, Ardkeen, Inverness; Mr G. R. Galloway, Inverness; Mr and Mrs McKelvie, Dundee; Mr W. C. Joass, Dingwall; Mr William MacKenzie, Delny; Mr and Mrs Strathdee, Ballindalloch; Major Ross, Aberdeen; Mr Richardson, Edinburgh; Mrs and Miss McBean, Inverness; Mr and Miss Baillie, Inverness; Mrs J. Brodie, Inverness; Mr Colvin, Morayshire; Mr Wood, Largo; Mr Mackay, London; Mr MacHardy; Dr J. Chapman, Inverness; Mr J. Leslie and Dr Sturrock, Dornoch; Mr C. D. Ross, Mr Allan, Mr MacIver, Mr Park, Messrs J. and A. Birnie, Mr MacRae, Inverness; Mr Whitton, Beauly; Mr Nairne, Inverness; Major and Mrs Cash; Mr, Mrs and Miss Gunn; Dr and Mrs Fox; The Misses Macdougall, Free Manse, Jamestown; the Misses Hill, Dingwall; Mr Bain, Stafford Villa; Mr MacLennan, Timaru; Mr Harrow, Mr Cameron, Mr Beaton, Mr and Miss MacGregor, Mr Munro, Mr Beaton, Mr Bonner, etc.

The new Clubhouse opens

It was a proud day when Strathpeffer Spa Golf Club members attended the official opening of their new clubhouse, in 1903, by Mrs Stewart MacKenzie of Seaforth. Originally golfers used an old cottage, or croft house, now demolished, for their facilities - now, with the opening of the new clubhouse, they were taking a big step forward.

'The new building is estimated to cost £400, and funds to meet the outlay are presently being subscribed' it is recorded, adding that it was hoped that through the bazaar to be held next year, and an "At Home" on Wednesday evening, the total debt will be wiped out. The building measures 44 ft by 15 ft. Along the full length of the front building runs a verandah about 20 ft wide. The main room is described as large and commodious lined round the sides with boxes for members and others and at either end separate retiring rooms have been incorporated for ladies and gentlemen. Even the quality of the water supply was given a special commendation.


The building was erected from plans provided by Dingwall architect W. C. Joass and the following tradesmen carried out the work: Mason, MacDonald, Mackay and Macleay, Strathpeffer; carpenter, Mr N. MacRae, Strathpeffer; painter, Mr Hugh A. Ross and Sons, Dingwall; plumber, Mr A. C. Mellis, Dingwall.

Club secretary Dr E. J. Duncan outlined the position and progress of the club for the benefit of those attending the opening and acknowledges financial help from the late Duchess of Sutherland, the then proprietrix, the Countess of Cromartie and, at a later date from her son, the late Earl and others. Major Blunt, who was in the chair, was thanked for his contribution of the site for the new building. Major Blunt then introduced Mrs Stewart MacKenzie and invited her to open the new clubhouse. "Seaforth and I are both keen golfers" she said in her opening remarks, adding that they would hope to play over the Ulladale course as soon as their electioneering duties would permit.

Colonel Stewart MacKenzie, in his remarks, was full of praise for the club members and spoke of the most ancient game of Scotland, golf, that had gone out of fashion but which had taken a new lease of life. At the end of the ceremony Mrs Stewart MacKenzie drove the first ball off and then tea was served in the new clubhouse.

After all the long months of planning the golfing dream comes true and the Strathpeffer Spa Golf Course is finally opened.

Fund Raising Bazaar

In 1904 the club held a Bazaar which was reported as follows in the Ross-shire Journal of August 19th:

At 11 am, when the opening ceremony took place, there was a large gathering of fashionably dressed people in the hall, including a considerable number of visitors to the Spa.

Colonel Stewart Mackenzie of Seaforth in opening the proceedings said that it was a great pleasure for him to be there that day, and he was very pleased to have to perform the duty of presiding at that function. Referring to the history of the Golf Club, he said it had been founded for the benefit of visitors. Some years ago with that object in view, Mr Gunn, the late factor for Cromartie, and Dr William Bruce, whom he might call father of Strathpeffer, and Dr Duncan laid out the Golf Course. The course was not only a good inland one, but was surrounded by beautiful scenery, which is second to none in the country (Applause). Having formed the course these gentlemen next set about building a Club House, which was necessary both for players and visitors alike. Now all these things had cost money, and it was with the object of getting £400, incurred in the erecting of the new club house, and improving the course, that the bazaar was being held that day. (Applause). He thought they were most fortunate in having Lady Moray present to open the bazaar. She was a lady who took the deepest interest in those amongst whom she lived. (Applause). He had great pleasure in asking her to open the bazaar. (Applause).

Lady Moray said she was delighted to be present that day and to open the bazaar. Strathpeffer was famous for many things, but the chief amongst these was its waters, which had given so much relief to so many sufferers. She then referred to the Spa as being a place of historic interest, when the clans used to meet in battle, and also spoke of the ancient game of golf. She concluded by expressing the hope that stalls would soon be cleared. She was delighted to be present that day and to declare the bazaar open. (Loud applause).

Mr George Wotherspoon, in moving a hearty vote of thanks to Lady Moray, said that since she had come to Ross-shire Lady Moray had taken great interest in local matters and had always been kind and willing to do her utmost to aid any good object. Her presence there today proved that. (Applause).

Dr Duncan, as secretary of the Golf Club, moved a hearty vote of thanks to Colonel Stewart Mackenzie for being present that day and presiding so ably. They were indebted to Colonel and Mrs Stewart Mackenzie for the interest they had taken in the club. Mrs Stewart Mackenzie, who had performed the opening ceremony of the new club house last year, was so delighted with the building that she at once offered to take a stall at the bazaar. (Applause). Both Colonel and Mrs Stewart Mackenzie deserved their warmest thanks. (Applause).  The sale then proceeded.

Second Day

After a most successful day on Thursday the Strathpeffer Golf Club Bazaar was opened for the second day on Friday by Mrs Leonard, Castle Leod. There was a good turnout of people when the opening ceremony took place at 11 am. There were on the platform, Mr and Mrs Leonard, Castle Leod; Sir Frederick and Lady Edridge; Mr and Mrs Hans Hamilton, Elsick; Mrs and Miss English, Scatwell; Mrs Darrel, Mr Wm. Gunn, Dr Duncan, Mr G. Wotherspoon, Mr Wm. Traill, etc.

Sir Frederick Edridge in introducing Mrs Leonard said he did not intend to keep them, because he was sure they were all desirous of beginning their work. He thought it was a delightful place. It had, he was told, charming water (Laughter). But he was certain of this, there was a delightful golf course and a more delightful golf house, and, what was better still, tea was supplied at the house. (Laughter and applause). With regard to the club house that had been provided, it seemed as if the convenience of every golfer had been studied, and if he had only to appeal to golfers that day he was certain they would come forward and liberally support the bazaar (Applause). But he felt that they had to appeal to a much larger class, a much more influential class, he referred to the ladies, and they were in sympathy with the golfers. There was no doubt about that if the ladies had not taken the work up they would not have been met there that afternoon. (Applause). He trusted that every success would attend their efforts that afternoon. (Applause).

Mrs Leonard said that the bazaar was one in which she and all her family took the keenest interest, and she hoped it would be a great success that day as it had been the previous day. She had much pleasure in declaring the bazaar open. (Applause). Mr Hans Hamilton said that he had been asked on behalf of the members of the Golf Club to tender their most heartfelt thanks to Mrs Leonard for opening the bazaar that day, and he was sure they would all think of what had been said, and give their united efforts to make the bazaar a gigantic success. (Applause). Over £250 had been taken the first day, and only £150 was required. The realising of that ambition he thought would be more thanks to Mrs Leonard than anything else they could do. (Applause).
Mr Wm. Gunn said he had been deputed to perform a little ceremony, and that was to propose a hearty vote of thanks to Sir Frederick Edridge for his kindness in presiding on that occasion. When he told them that Sir Frederick and his estimable lady had been annual visitors at Strathpeffer for a number of years they would all the more thank him for the interest he had taken in the bazaar. (Applause) That was not the first occasion he had helped on movements in support of Strathpeffer. (Applause) He was an ideal golfer and he was sure he could with confidence ask them to join him in giving their best thanks to Sir Frederick for presiding that day (Loud applause).

Sir Frederick Edridge said that Mr Gunn had been rather hard on him, because he had reminded him of his age, and also of his deficiences in golf. His object was to go round the course in as large a number of strokes as possible, and he would congratulate anybody who could beat him. (Laughter) He thanked them most heartily. (Applause)
The sale was then proceeded with, and good business was done. The idea of a bran-dip was an exceedingly happy one. Situated on the right hand side of the entrance door it, with its little attendants looking pretty in Japanese costumes, at once attracted attention.

Outside, at the back of the Pavilion, a putting competition was held. The hole was placed in the centre of a clock, and competitors putted from the different hours. Mr A. Prestwich was in charge, with "Kenny" as assistant.

During the day the Spa Orchestra discoursed music in the bazaar. At 3 pm a delightful concert was held in the Meeting House, when a capital programme, arranged by Mrs W. J. Duncan, the Craig, and Mrs Munro, was carried through. The artistes were all talented, and they all combined to provide a concert that must have pleased the most fastidious. The artistes included Mrs Munro, Mrs Garthwaite, Mrs W. J. Duncan, Mr Walter Ivimey, Mr Joseph Ivimey, Mr Allan and Mr W. Kay, along with the Orchestra. A concert including the same company, will be given in the same place this afternoon at 3 pm.

The Famous Massy and Herd Match

Before long more improvements were in hand with the redesigning of the inward half of the course in 1907.

On September 12, 1907, the famous Massy and Herd match was played to commemorate the latest upgrading of the course and a record round was created. Arnaud Massy, the open champion and Alex Herd played two exhibition matches, when Herd beat the champion by 5 and 4 and 2 and 1, making a record round of 66 (match play). Later, in letters to the club, both men praised the course warmly, Alex Herd, of Huddersfield Golf Club, commenting 'I never saw anything prettier!'  Arnaud Massy, of Golf Club Boulie, Versailles writing: 'Je certifie que la course est magnifique.'

The same match, with Lord Lovat (centre).


The following year Tom Vardon visited the course and introduced the pot bunkers, later filled in. Tom, of Royal St George's Golf Club in Sandwich, also praised the view from the eighteenth tee.

Moving into modern times

In 1968 an ambitious scheme was put into effect in order to increase and improve the existing accommodation. The verandah was removed and incorporated into the club room and the old pine lockers taken away.

However, it was decided to retain the old tiled fireplace as a feature and it still stands today nearly as old, or even perhaps as old, as the club itself. Living accommodation for a resident steward and stewardess was built at the back and the clubroom bar brought up to standard. The following year the greens which suffered from moss, were hand scarified by a dedicated band of supporters.

Such wide ranging improvements over the years called for yet another opening, this time to launch the up-to-the minute renovations. The Earl of Cromartie performed the opening ceremony in front of a very large crowd who were clearly delighted with the changes in 1974.

Happy memories

The 1980's heralded more improvements with the conversion of an old peat bog, in 1984, into a modern irrigation pond. A test boring revealed impervious blue clay underneath the surface peat and when the latter was removed, the clay was used to line the excavated pond. With the existing artesian springs this has provided an excellent gravity-fed system that can be used to irrigate all the greens but one and at a nett cost of £1600.00.

The Happy Memories seat that has been placed between the 15th and 17th greens, was presented by the recently deceased Betty MacGillivray in memory of her late husband, ex-banker Willie MacGillivray. With wonderful views of the Fannich Hills to the left and Ben Wyvis to the right, it was a fitting tribute to a very popular golfer. Indeed, Willie and his son Derek, were the only father and son combination at club champion level in the history of the club.

Finally, the Manpower Services are currently helping to lay new paths throughout the course and, this year, a much needed car park has been created at number 9 green which will make it possible for elderly or infirm members and visitors to reach the top of the course more easily. With the club celebrating its 100th birthday there are many older members who will no doubt deeply appreciate this recent feature.

Stalwarts - past and present

Where would the club be without the trusty stalwarts, both past and present, who have contributed so much of their time and effort for the pleasure of their fellow players?

There have been, and still are, so many of them and in mentioning a few let us not forget the others. . .

Jock MacLennan, a Kingussie native, came to Dingwall with the Bank of Scotland after the war, retiring as manager of the Alness branch.  Now in his seventieth year, he began golfing at the age of fourteen, never dreaming, perhaps, that the time would come when he would serve as Club Captain at Strathpeffer during 1958/59. He also served as Treasurer for several years and during this period won the County Championships at Tain.  "The first time I won a club championship in Strathpeffer", he recalled, "I had to play twelve extra holes in the semi-final in the afternoon to beat Donnie MacLean and right to the eighteenth hole at night to beat Bill Berry."  Jock's late wife, Betty, was an ex Lady Captain at Strathpeffer and his sons both play, deputy-headmaster Malcolm playing at Grantown-on- Spey and Donald, a linotype operator in Dingwall, playing locally. Remarkably, all four members of the family play left-handed with Jock himself getting his handicap down to three.

Huisdean Mathieson, now in his eighty-second year, captained Strathpeffer Spa Golf Club twice, first in 1943-44 and again in 1962-63 contributing his experienced architect's eye that was to be such a help during the extensions and improvements to the club.  South African born Huisdean recalls how the whole family played golf, father, mother, three brothers and two sisters and how he served his apprenticeship on the old Dingwall course before moving to Strathpeffer. His late wife, Mary, was also a golfer.  It is thanks largely to Huisdean's far sightedness that the old belfry has been retained on top of the Clubhouse. These days, he finds Strathpeffer course a 'bit hilly' but is planning a game before the Centenary dinner.

Jack Baird, a civil engineer by profession, moved north from the Glasgow area and was employed with Logan's of Muir of Ord.  "As a family we were all encouraged to play", he explained, adding that he himself had started as a boy. Now, twenty years into retirement, it is fitting that he practically lives on the Fortrose Golf Course, finding Strathpeffer a bit too steep now that he is in his eighty-second year.  In his days as a director with Logan's he lived at Beauly and played the Muir of Ord course. His wife Marjorie is also a golfer.  He served as Club Captain for the years 1955-56.

My memories of Strathpeffer Golf Club by Club member Jack Sinclair of Culbokie.

My first visit to the Club was in those far off days when the Spa was thronged with visitors from near and far seeking the health invigorating waters. The therapeutic baths in that glass pavilion, which is now a spacious car park at the top of the square, were also popular. The first house on the way up the hill to the Golf Course was imposing Dunraven, with its beech hedge. Beyond this, after a sharp bend, the road went straight up the hill with a heavy wooden gate level with the Club entrance. Just walking up was quite an effort and I seem to recall at least three pieces of pine tree set obliquely across the road in a bid to prevent erosion, I suppose.  At that time the Club has a full time secretary, a player of championship class, but by the time I was hard hitting a ball much of the glory of the Spa had gone.

I recall taking the 'Strathy' on a Saturday afternoon along with the Dingwall members such as Chief Constable Finlayson, James Cameron, the County Collector, Ross-shire's Sheriff Clerk, Willie Dewar, Don Davidson and Alex Nicol to name only a few. Then there was the long walk up from the station turning in where Burnett's Bakery was situated and through a rough path onto the road well up the hill.  At this time hickory shafts were the order of the day. Balls varied considerably with two shillings being the top price for the Dunlops.


It was about this time the pond at the third was created and presented a new experience and hazard though a long pole with a net at the end was lying handy, and occasionally could be used to retrieve the ball if the water was still and clear enough.  I must say the pond was a real 'treasure house' for the caddies who could swim a bit. During lunch hours, when there were few players about, quite a number of balls were rescued and had a good market - albeit under the counter.

The Clubhouse, resplendent in green and white, had a long verandah with a grand view down the valley, hence a few indulged in afternoon tea, pancakes or scones. Mrs Hoy, whose husband had become professional in 1921 was quite famous for her culinery expertise. As caddie, at one stage, we had an open shelter with a long seat at the back wall and a few hooks where we left coats, if any, and such refreshments as we could muster. In the same block a shed where repairs to clubs was attended to and I recall the distinctive smell of a glue pot much in use when shafts cracked.

Behind the Clubhouse, surrounded by a small shed, was a deep well and if you were permitted to open the door and look in there was always a sizeable trout swimming around. The well was the source of water for the Clubhouse and in the men's locker room was a pump which raised the water to a tank in the roof. If unemployed as a caddie you were frequently 'co-opted' by Mrs Hoy to man the pump without any reward whatsoever.

The fee for carrying clubs was 1/6d although most rewarded you with 2/- and if some super generous gent gave you 2/6d you asked in all humility if he needed your services next day.  After completing the round (usually two hours) you took the clubs to the caddie shed and out came the emery paper to make all the irons shine brightly - all this before stainless steel.

Golf clubs had distinctive names in those days, not numbers and each tee had a sand box which sometimes told the length of the hole and caddies were supposed to make a sand tee, place the ball thereon and retreat to a vantage point. For failing to stop the destination an errant ball was considered almost a punishable offence. The fairways were narrower and the rough rougher in those days.

The secretary in my caddying days was Major Wilkie, the local postmaster, a small portly gentleman equally short off the tee, but seldom in the rough. The star player was one Ian Munro, a tall powerful golfer who hit the ball predigious lengths with great accuracy. His record round of 62 used to adorn the notice board above the fireplace. We were told how his challenge to a twenty pound contest of visiting pros was not accepted and perhaps wisely so. The last I heard of Ian Munro was that he had gone to Malaya and laterly became professional in New York State.

When Sir George Hastings and his syndicate took over the Spa in the early post war years he presented a Cup for competition between Strathpeffer and the newly formed Dingwall Club. The picture here shows the players from the respective clubs in 1922. Several of the folks are readily identifiable but perhaps someone else can complete the roll call.

I remember with pleasure Jock Ross from Knockfarrel, for long a greenkeeper who initiated me in the art of club repair and generally guided me in the do's and don'ts of golf. There was also Beelack 'Park' another good natured greenkeeper who spent his working life in the service of the Club.  It was my task on several occasions to accompany Frank Hoy and one of his many pupils round the course, in the process absorbing many useful hints in the art of the Royal Ancient Game.

Fees in 1920 - Gents £1; Junior 10/- and this included the use of a locker.

From the minute books

Electricity was installed in the Clubhouse in 1930 at the cost of £54.2/6 by the Ross-shire Electric Supply Co Ltd. A cake, candy and produce stall was held on August 20, of the same year, and raised £60/9-to pay for this major improvement.

On Sunday March 2, 1961, after considerable discussion, the question of allowing Sunday golf was discussed. A motion to do so was carried by an overwhelming majority and charges were fixed at 2/- for members and 3/- for visitors.

On January 19, 1933, the Lady Paget Cup was offered and accepted. Provost Murray was then Captain and it was decided to play for this trophy as the club championship.

On November 14, 1927, the club's Hon Secretary, Mr D. MacLean, expressed his deep regret that fire had burnt down his house and destroyed all the minute books and correspondence held there. This accounts for our lack of detailed knowledge of events prior to that date.

Ladies Section

Ladies participation in Club activities dates back to when the original nine-hole course was formally opened in 1888 by Miss Lawson of Leys who drove the first ball off the first tee.

The strength of the ladies section was further acknowledged when the new Club House was built in 1903 and the rooms at the south end were set aside for lady members. Indeed, little has changed over the years for these same quarters are still exclusively for the use of the 'Friday Nighters'.

When the back nine holes were redesigned in 1908, the ladies were given so-called two practice holes situated on Ord Hill. This is now the built-up area on the left hand side of the approach road to the Club House and below Ord Wood.  The inter-war years left few records, but it is believed the Strathpeffer Ladies joined the Ladies Golf Union in 1937. The post 1945 era heralded an ever increasing membership and a consequential upsurge in competitions and other activities.

In 1947 the Standard Scratch Score was 67 and annual general meetings were held in the Town Hall, Dingwall. The entry fee for competition was raised to 6d in 1948 and at least six members had to play in a competition before a prize was awarded.  Inter Club matches were started in 1952 with fixtures against Tain and Muir of Ord. The standard scratch score was lowered to 66 in 1954 and 1958 saw the first mention of the Ross/Sutherland inter club team competition.

The decision to rejoin the Ladies Golf Union was taken in 1968 and it was also in this year it was agreed competitions would be played on Friday evenings.

Ladies Open

The First Ladies Open was organised for Saturday, 22nd May, 1976, and this ever popular event has continued annually since that time. The Course record of 69 was shot in the competition and is jointly held by Margaret Vass and Lindsay Anderson, both of Tain in 1980 and 1984 respectively.

Playing in the Club Championship in 1976, Mrs Janie Michie, holed her tee shot at the 10th. As far as memory goes, this was the first hole in one by a lady member of Strathpeffer while playing in a competition. Janie had the further distinction of joining no less person than former President of the United States, Gerald Ford, as recipients of the coveted Sunday Post putter, the President having holed out in one during the same week when playing in a pro-am at Memphis, Tennessee.

Junior Section

In the early years junior membership was available but the demand for competitions was not very strong. However, interest slowly built up and in 1976 various members of the management committee organised the first Junior Club Championship.
This was followed in 1979 by the appointment of Willie Gunn as the first Junior Organiser. The competitions were increased by holding regular monthly medals in addition to the Club Championship, and interest grew as a result of these efforts. The club also had the honour of hosting the second Junior County Championships during this period.


1976 John Beaton         1982 David Morrison
1977 Kevin Ross           1983 David Morrison
1978 Hamish Beattie    1984 Richard Arkwright
1979 Andrew Christie   1985 Stuart MacPherson
1980 Shaw Dewar         1986 Stuart MacPherson
1981 Shaw Dewar         1987 William Spark


In 1982 Willie handed over the running of the section to Ernie Arkwright the present Junior Organiser. At this time junior golf was beginning to take on more importance and an early appeal to senior members resulted in a magnificent array of prizes and trophies being donated for the first Junior Open Tournament in 1983. It is worthy of mention that each succeeding year senior members have supported this event by donating prizes and their generosity has been rewarded with one of the best supported tournaments in the North of Scotland with an average entry in the order of one hundred. May it long continue.

Also in 1983 new competitions included Winter Eclectic, Summer Eclectic and Cromford Match Play Trophies with these being followed in later years by Bank of Scotland 'Man and Boy' competition and W. S. Bolton Stableford Trophy. The introduction of senior/junior open tournament and ladies -v- seniors -v- juniors have proved popular as they provide a "family" type of golf dimension as compared with the more normal stroke play competition.  Inter club golf has progressed and five matches were played in 1987 with different boys being given the honour of "captain for the day".

Coaching has become a permanent part of the season and visiting professional George Hampton has seen his efforts well rewarded. In 1985 Richard Arkwright was selected for North District Juniors and this was followed in 1987 by William Spark becoming Ross-shire Junior Champion. In the girls' section Claire Wilson won the North Area Girls Trophy as well as being selected for North District Girls. On a more general note qualifying rounds of various national competitions have been held and the reward for some of the boys was experience of playing at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews.

From the foregoing it can be seen that the section is fully integrated into club activities and with the wealth of talent now emerging the possibility of future honours for both individual and club are a real possibility.

Thanks to Sponsors

Strathpeffer Golf Club wish to thank most sincerely the following for their valued sponsorship.
Ross-shire District Council; Anthony Knight, Ardullie; Brit-Oil; British Telecom; Bank of Scotland, Dingwall; Invergordon Distillers; John MacLean & Sons, Dingwall; Neil Macdonald, Achterneed; Wimpey Asphalt, Inverness; Gordon Mackenzie, Garve; Scottish Brewers, Inverness; Whyte & Mackay Whisky; MacRae & Dick, Dingwall; Highlands Fabricators; Mackay's Garage, Dingwall; and Highland Power Cabling, Fortrose.
We also wish to acknowledge the invaluable contribution made to this centenary publication by Mrs Margaret Spark of Strathpeffer who supplied many old pictures to Stuart Photography, Dingwall; Andrew Allan, Photographer, Alness; Mr Jackie Fraser for the old fairway picture and a special thanks to Mr David Watt of the Ross-shire Journal, Dingwall.
Thanks to all advertisers who helped make this special centenary book possible.

A greenkeeper with a weather eye

Looking down the years at the host of old friends and acquaintances that were part of the Strathpeffer Spa Golf Club's history, one name stands out - Bert Gillespie, Greenkeeper.  Now living in retirement in Stonehaven, not too far from his native Muchalls, Bert became Greenkeeper in April 1959 and retired in December 1972.  "In those days they wanted me to teach golf", Bert told us, "but that was impossible as there was far too much to do." Instead he, and his wife Margaret, who died, sadly, in 1979, set to with a will and established themselves warmly in the memories of golfing folk, with their hard work, charm and sense of fun.


Bert wasn't a professional golfer but he brought to the job a good weather 'eye' since he had served in the Meteorological Office during the war - always a useful talent to have in hand at tournament times! However, his training played him false the first time he climbed Ben Wyvis with a party of school children and teachers, intent on seeing the sunrise. Bad fog came down with pea soup instead of the spectacular sunrise anticipated.  Looking back over 15 years plus of retirement Bert comments, "I remember the course well, a short course but a hilly one, even hillier than Stonehaven!

In days gone by he enjoyed nothing better than a round at the end of the day. "Often, the late Donald Dewar and myself would have a late round on a Saturday", he said, "and it would be starting to get dark by the time we came in".  Bert, who was eighty last October is as full of fun as ever. "I've still got youth on my side", he says. He has never forgotten the spectacular views from the Strathpeffer Spa Golf Course and says that people used to tell him he was lucky to be working in such a lovely place. Today, he gets up early and fills the hours shopping, gardening, generally relaxing and still keeping a professional eye on the weather.

And two more ....

Fairway chat

Present membership of the Strathpeffer Spa Golf Club stands at: Males 280; Ladies 50 plus; Juniors 80; country members 35.  Resident secretary of the club from 1909 until 1925 was Mr C. C. Aymler who was a remarkably fine exponent of the game. Playing with Mr D. P. Robertson he returned the following card: Out-4,5,3,3,3,4,5,5,5-37. In - 3,4,4,3,5,3,3,3,4 - 32. Total 69. 

Secretary Mr Aymler was succeeded in 1925 by Mr Ian Munro of Salisbury House, Strathpeffer, who beat the course record which was then standing at 61.

Present Greenkeeper Mr Donnie Dingwall of Culbokie brought 34 years experience with the Forestry Commission with him when he took the job on in 1975. He was instrumental in clearing what is now an effective practice area between the 18th hole and the Clubhouse. Donnie, who enjoys golf himself has a handicap of 14. His wife, Cathie, also plays and he hopes the children and grand-children will carry on the tradition.

Cuckoos used to be very plentiful around the course, now there are not so many but regular players will recall Bill Lauder's regular attack of the 'yipps' when putting off the 12th green as the cuckoos in the Kinellan trees gave regular voice!

Maurice and Stachia Duncan, club steward and stewardess have been in the job nearly thirteen years, arriving shortly after the living quarters had been built. Maurice enjoys a game of snooker on his Monday off and four years ago Stachia was named the most improved player.

The late Mr Donnie MacLean was club championship winner ten times, winning the Lady Paget Cup.  Mrs Florence MacRae won the Lady's Championship five times on the trot between 1975 and 1979.

Early Centenary celebrations kicked off with a Men's Open Tournament sponsored by MacKay's Garage which saw over 189 out on the course - a record attendance. William MacLean, aged 18 years, of Muir of Ord holed in one at the 11th and was presented with an additional voucher for £25 by the sponsors.

The trophy cabinet, which is presently housing about half of the club's total collection, is a big attraction to visitors. Some of the noteworthy silver includes:The Hugh Graham Open Championship Trophy, presently held by S. Dalgarno (Westhill); The Club Championship Lady Paget Cup, held by Dod Kryyzanowski and the Handicap Fred Fraser Trophy, held by Roddy Campbell; theMcVittie and Price Cup for Mixed Foursomes is one of the oldest cups; the Michie and Spark tray is for an Annual Mixed Foursomes to another course. Finally, the handsome centrepieceof the picture, the Garve Hotel Trophy, a beautiful antique lamp, was handed over in 1972. Sadly, Mr John Walker, then the manager of the Garve Hotel, died tragically before he could make the presentation personally.

Grateful thanks are extended to those hard working members who carried out research for this book, namely Jock MacLennan, George Spark and Ian Michie and the Editor and staff of the "Ross-shire Journal", Willie Wilson of the "North Star" and Mrs Jean Bambrick.
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