The two images above, taken on Leven Links with Largo Law in the background, appeared in the 25 March 1892 edition of Golf Illustrated. The two men are Archibald Smith (dark jacket) and James Kerr, who were both one-armed golfers belonging to Leven Thistle Club. One of the images also includes two young caddies. These men were proficient one-armed golfers well before the days of the First World War and the Society of One-Armed Golfers which later came into being because so many men lost limbs in that conflict.
Archibald Smith, son of local blacksmith John Smith, was born in Leven in 1852. By the age of 19 he was working as an apprentice boiler maker. This line of work took him to Glasgow for a spell before the depression of trade brought about by the failure of the City of Glasgow Bank in 1878. That year, he returned to his native Leven and found employment attending to the breaker machine at Hawkslaw Mill. Shortly after his return, an accident took place there involving that machine, which required the amputation of his right arm at the age of 26. Mill owners Messrs Boase continued to employ Archibald as a timekeeper. Having been a keen golfer, he was keen to continue to play and became a prominent member of Leven Thistle Club.
Coincidentally, James Kerr had lost his right arm in an accident on the very same breaking machine several years earlier. As a boy of 13 in 1871, James was already working at Hawkslaw mill. His income was important for his family, as his father had drowned in the River Leven in 1868 while trying to rescue a small boy. The young James Kerr's right hand was severed in the machine and an amputation was carried out above the elbow. However, the resourceful lad learned how to write with his left hand and in time rose to a position of trust at the Durie Foundry.
Having mastered the pen, James took up golf and to the surprise of his friends proved to have great dexterity in wielding the driver and the cleek. He had worked as a golf caddy as a younger boy and recalled the move of the Innerleven Golf Club from Dubbieside to the green at Leven when he was about nine years old. In 1877 he joined Leven Thistle Club, becoming Secretary the following year. He went on to be Captain on three occasions. In spite of his injury at such a young age, James Kerr went on to have thirteen sons and a daughter, and the poem below was written about him by club mate David Jackson (29 Sept 1909 Leven Advertiser).
Archibald Smith died in January 1899 aged 48 - an event mentioned in the 1900 Fife News Illustrated Almanac, which included another photograph (below) of Smith and Kerr from back in 1892. James Kerr (pictured further below in his older years) died in 1915 aged 57. At the time, four of his sons were on active service in the First World War. What a remarkable pair, who overcame adversity to succeed both in their working lives and in their sporting pursuits.