London Scottish is probably the longest continually played-upon course in England. No-one is sure exactly when golf was first played here, but seven holes were picked out in the early 1860s by members of the London Scottish Rifle Volunteers, who were stationed on Wimbledon Common.
The club itself was officially formed in 1865, which means it is the third oldest English golf club after Royal Blackheath and Royal North Devon (the well-known illustration, right, is of an early home match between LSGC and Royal Blackheath in 1870).
The course was extended to 18-holes in 1871, the same year that an Act of Parliament took the common away from the ownership of Earl Spencer and into public hands.
A number of our holes, such as Long Butt, Running Deer, Blockade and the Long Hole, were originally laid out along the lines of rifle ranges. Old bullets are occasionally still found on parts of the course.
The first clubhouse was in Mrs Doggett's cottage under the shadow of the windmill, then in 1871 golfers moved to the ‘Iron House’ further back near Parkside, where the rifle volunteers were based. The current building – one of the few remaining Victorian golf clubhouses in Britain – was purpose built in 1897.
The club had been opened up to civilians in 1869, and a major dispute erupted between the military and non-military members in 1881, leading the civilians to create what later became Royal Wimbledon Golf Club. Royal Wimbledon played on our course until constructing its own links just off the common in 1907.
The legendary JH Taylor, five times Open champion, made the course his home between 1896 and 1899 when he was professional at the Royal. He returned to London Scottish in 1926 to redesign the course.
Wimbledon Common Golf Club was founded in 1908, and plays on the same course as us, although with a different clubhouse and starting point. We have a joint greens committee and work closely together.
See the wikipedia entry for LSGC here. Copies of the 354-page club history by John Downs (in hardback or paperback) can be bought at the club for £10.
Some notable past members
Lord Elcho, Whig politician who became the 10th Earl of Wemyss; Marquis of Lorne, married Queen Victoria's 4th Daughter, Princess Louise; Young Willie Dunn, the first unofficial champion of America in 1894 and runner-up in the first US Open of 1895; AJ Balfour, Prime Minister 1902 to 1905, MP from 1874–1922, and Foreign Secretary in David Lloyd George's coalition government 1916-1919; George Duncan, Open Champion at Deal in 1920 and victorious captain of the 1929 Ryder Cup team; George McPartlin, founder of the Golf Foundation in 1952; Mickey Abrams, three-times ABA flyweight champion and 1970 Commonwealth Games boxing bronze medalist; Matt Lorenzo, TV sports presenter.
London Scottish GC Professionals
Our club has had only ten professionals in its long history. Here they are:
1865-1869 Private Doleman
A member of the London Scottish Rifle Volunteers, Doleman worked three days a week as professional while performing other duties as a marker and greenkeeper. We don’t know his first name, but he may have been related to the four famous golfing Doleman brothers from Scotland, among whom was William Doleman, the first amateur to enter the Open Championship.
1869 to 1880 Tom Dunn
Born in Blackheath in 1850, Tom played in the Open eight times between 1868 and 1886, with a best finish of 6th in 1868. He expanded the London Scottish course in 1871 to 18 holes, then became a prolific architect who laid out 137 golf courses before his death at 52. Tom’s younger brother, ‘Young’ Willie Dunn, who was Tom’s assistant pro at London Scottish, went on to become the first unofficial champion of America in 1894 and runner-up in the first US Open of 1895.
1880-1882 John Butchart
John made clubs under his own name in the 1880s and they were still being sold well into the 1920s. He later worked for Carnoustie’s Robert Simpson, who was one of the most famous clubmakers of his era. One of John’s sons, Cuthbert, was a well travelled pro at, among other clubs, Royal County Down, Highgate, and the Berlin Club in Germany.
1882-1901 Peter Fernie
Peter was a Scot who played in the Open four times, with highest finishes of 9th at Prestwick in 1884 and 1886. His more famous father, Willie Fernie, who was professional at Royal Troon, won the 1883 Open at Musselburgh and was runner up in the event four times. Peter’s assistant at London Scottish was Henry Yates, who went on to become a founding force in the PGA.
1901 –1903 J G Stuart
After leaving London Scottish, JG Stuart became the first professional at Ealing Golf Club, before retiring in 1905.
1903 to 1907 Hugh Logan
A Scot who began his career as assistant pro at Prestwick, Hugh was a highly respected club designer whose Hugh Logan signature Genii irons were national bestsellers for a period of 20 years or more. He left London Scottish for St Andrews to briefly become the foreman at Old Tom Morris’s shop before going on to be professional at Whitecraigs in Glasgow and then Hainault Forest, eventually working for several golf club manufacturing companies.
1907 - 1958 David Wilson
David Wilson served the club for almost 50 years - and across two world wars. As well as being the professional and clubmaker, he also spent many years on greenkeeping duties and later doubled up as the club steward. He was responsible for a number of improvements to the course, including the relocation of the 18th green to its present position. He died while still working at the club in 1958.
1964-1987 Spen Attwood
After a period without a professional, London Scottish employed Spen in 1964 - and he stayed for 23 years. Spen had started his career in 1923 as an assistant pro at Guildford, and then moved to Royal Wimbledon before becoming professional at Home Park. After 16 years there, followed by a two-year spell with Henry Cotton’s golf school, he took the professional’s job at London Scottish, where he was another in the long line of the club’s respected clubmakers. He was known especially for his woods, which he produced for a number of private clients, including royalty.
1987 -1992 Matthew Barr
Learning much from Spen Attwood, Matthew decided early in his career to keep up the traditional art of clubmaking, leading to his appointment as the youngest ever PGA staff instructor in club repairs in 1989. He joined Gerrards Cross as their professional in 1992.
1992 – present Steve Barr
Older brother of Matthew, Steve played in the 1981 Open at Royal St Georges and was a member of the European tour from 1977 – 1982. He has taken part in various exotic tournaments, including the Nigerian Open and the first ever Polish Open.
Note: Some dates are approximate