Golf has been played on Earlsferry Links, possibly as early as the 15th century as it was deemed necessary for an Act of Parliament to be passed in 1471 banning the game! However some 100 years later a royal charter in 1589 affirmed the “ancient servitude right of golf” for the villagers over the Links.
By 1770 there was put in place a sort of formal layout of a course, which was then severely challenged by the owners of the Grange Estate who clearly were not golfers and promptly laid claim to a part of the course and ploughed up a section in the middle!
Legal action ensued which took some 20 years before judgement was found in favour of the golfers, decreeing that the disputed strip of land should be as wide as the best golfer could hit a ball. The identity of the “best” golfer is not known but suffice to say he was not on form resulting in the narrow strip of land which encompasses the current 4th and 17th holes
The first Club, The Elie and Earlsferry Golf Club, was formed in 1832. However in order to provide permanent facilities a clubhouse or what was known as a golf house was built in 1875, and the opportunity was taken to use this name to form a new club in the same year, The Golf House Club. By 1896 more land had been leased enabling an 18 hole course to be laid out, which bar a few minor alterations is the course played today.
The original club The Elie and Earlsferry Golf Club was disbanded in 1912. Elie and Earlsferry Ladies Golf Club which shares the course and clubhouse was formed in 1884 and the Earlsferry Thistle Golf Club which also has playing rights was formed in 1875 the same year as the Golf House Club.
James Braid, five times winner of The Open was born and grew up in the village of Earlsferry and was a member of the Thistle aged 15. He considered the 13th hole, nestling beneath the towering cliffs of Kincraig Point to be “the best hole in golf” and the 4th as needing “twa guid dunts wi’ a wood” to reach the green into the prevailing wind.
Such is the quality of the course it was in days gone by a qualifying course for the Open Championship and has hosted a number of notable tournaments including the Seniors Championship, the Scottish Professionals Championship and the Scottish Ladies Championship.
Link to the Elie Golf House Club website: www.golfhouseclub.co.uk