On 29 November 1909 an "epoch making event" took place. The Lundin and Leven Golf Clubs ceased to share one course and began to use their own new extended courses, separated by the Mile Dyke. Or, as the next day's Evening Telegraph put it, "the union of Lundin and Leven in the golfing sense was dissolved, and the old order was changed". While this was certainly a helpful change and one which endures over a century later, the road to severance was not a smooth one. The growth in popularity of both Lundin Links and Leven as holiday resorts served to highlight the inadequacy of the original golfing facilities. The expansion of Lundin Links in particular, prompted Sir John Gilmour to plan a full new course at the Lundin Links end. Meanwhile the golfers at the "west end" had a period "in the valley of tribulation" during lengthy negotiations with the Laird of Durie for land to extend their course. Many bemoaned the disruption of the joint green committee and the split of the old course. In time, however, the reconfiguration of both courses was settled and when the day of the opening ceremonies came, the mood was buoyant.
"There will be no more congestion" was the headline in the 29 November Evening Telegraph, as it reported on the day's events. The new course at Lundin Links, designed by James Braid, was described as being of "a sporting nature, as it contains plenty of natural hazards and bunkers, and its character resembles the Tayside courses". The opening ceremony began in the club house where Sir John remarked upon the importance of the occasion in the future history of the village and presented a silver-mounted driving club to the Captain, Mr Benjamin C. Cox of Largo House (shown seated in centre of photo above, flanked by Sir John Gilmour and Mr George Russell of Hatton). The party then moved to the first tee where Mr Cox drove using the newly-presented club. Later, there was a stroke competition and a luncheon in the Lundin Links Hotel. Owing to the time of year, the occasion was considered fairly low key and a larger scale opening competition was planned for Easter.
Meanwhile the Leven course was opened by Major Shepherd (pictured). In his speech at the pavilion of the Innerleven Golf Clubhouse he remarked that "they had just parted with a very old friend, whose every feature and peculiarity they had from long association become intimately acquainted with, and where the pleasantest hours of their leisure time had been spent". He commented that when the notion of splitting the courses was first mooted some years earlier "they could hardly believe such a proposal" involving the division of such historic links capable of being carried out. He spoke of appeals made and of "the final blow...in the beginning of last year" when a definite decision was made. Nonetheless Major Shepherd spoke favourably of the new Leven course and paid tribute to Mr Alexander Patrick for laying it out, before driving off the first ball with another silver mounted driver.
And with all that ceremony, gone were the days of starting at both ends, the "annoying pause at the half-way flag" to take turn about, and the "congestion through the fairway". One comment made on that momentous day in 1909 was "the hope that Lundin Links would become a course that people all over the world would talk about and remember". I think that hope has been achieved.
This blog is about the history of the villages of Lundin Links, Lower Largo and Upper Largo in Fife, Scotland. Comments and contributions from readers are very welcome!
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