Heritage Narrative

Introduction

The Nairn Golf Club has attracted golfers and golfing interest ever since it was founded in 1887. Within the clubhouse our impressive Archive room holds an extended library of books, reports, competition records, photographs, trophies, pictures, collections clubs and artefacts have been assembled, catalogued and are both referenced and displayed.
Extensive collections have been assembled by prominent local members KM Cameron, RJR Gordon and RD Gordon linking the Club to a wider history of the game.

Major Events

The Championship Board, on the clubhouse stairwell, lists many prestigious events held at Nairn. Amongst the many events with notable individual winners include John Panton, Jessie Valentine, Eric Brown, Ronnie Shade, Charlie Green, Maureen Madill and Colin Montgomerie. The Club has hosted 1994 and 2021 Amateur Championship and the Walker Cup in 1999, the Curtis Cup 2021 with the stars of the Professional game such as Luke Donald, Paul Casey, Matt Kuchar, Charley Hull and Bronte Law playing in these matches.

Prominent personalities

In 1887, Robert B Finlay became a benefactor and founder member of the Club. He was President from 1911-1929. Finlay was created a viscount in 1919 following service as Lord Chancellor, latterly in the Lloyd George government. As Viscount Finlay of Nairn he was appointed a Judge at the Permanent Court of International Justice. Viscount Finlay owned a first edition of the Art of Golf by Sir Walter Grindlay Simpson that illustrated technique by the innovative use of instantaneous photography. Finlay’s annotations within his own copy, recently donated to the Club, make it clear that the book enhanced his golfing awareness. The Nairn montage drew readers attention to the quotation on the frontispiece from Robert Louis Stevenson “Pleasures are more beneficial than duties because, like the quality of mercy, they are not strained, and they are twice blest”

Horace Gordon Hutchinson, who won back-to-back Amateur Championships at St Andrews and Hoylake in 1886/1887 is associated with the Club. Horace’s involvement in all aspects of golf was matched by his many business interests. He became a sought-after essayist on natural history and there are now more than 18,000 references to Horace Hutchinson on the British Library website.
The Nairn Golf Club archive has helped to trace back the details of Hutchinson’s link, which involved national politicians.

FA(Frank) Fairlie was Captain of the Nairn Golf Club in 1901-1902. Fairlie was fourth son of James Ogilvie Fairlie, the man who enticed Tom Morris from St Andrews to Prestwick in 1851 a crucial factor in the establishment of the Open Championship in 1860.

Jimmy Adams(1910-1986) was born in Troon and came to Nairn in 1927 as assistant to then Club Professional Peter McEwan. He was runner-up to Alf Padgham in the 1936 Open at Royal Liverpool and to Reg Whitcombe at Royal St Georges in 1938. During the 1947 Ryder Cup at Portland Golf Club, USA Adams and his partner Max Faulkner were beaten by Ben Hogan and Jimmy Demaret by 2 holes on the opening day of foursomes. Hogan had been particularly impressed by Adams iron play but sensed his putting was fragile. Hogan gave Adams his putter as a gift signalling encouragement and the start of a friendship which was cemented at two subsequent Ryder Cup matches. The Hogan putter, now resting within the Nairn archives was donated to the Club from Frank Rennie the former Professional at Prestwick Golf Club.

Wider Connections

The Nairn heritage has become an expanding source of golfing interest. The Club has a large number of international golfing connections including the contributions of the Professionals who have served the Club and the golfing careers of three Nairn Members, TA Torrance and George McGregor, each of whom played in five Walker Cups, Captained GB&I sides and served in high office at the R&A. And Sandy Scott who played in 2019 Walker Cup at Royal Liverpool and was selected to play in the 2021 Walker Cup at Seminole golf Club USA. It is fitting the recent centenary of Armistice Day to note that five hexagonal teak boards list the Club members who fell in both World Wars. An In Memoriam book has been created in recognition of their sacrifice.

The Bothy and Ice House

The historic Bothy, situated between the 9th green and the 10th tee was built in 1877, along with the Icehouse, for the purpose of catching and storing salmon. Originally there were 8 bothies and fishing stations between Whiteness Head (McDermott’s Point) and Shallow Head. Shallow Head is about 1 mile from the mouth of the River Findhorn. Every bothy was different, Delnies being described as ‘a very good bothy’ (this does not however mean good comfy beds etc but apparently refers to the amount of fish caught). At Delnies they would catch up to 5000 salmon in a good season. The ice came from either Aberdeen or Buckie and was delivered to the bothies, and the salmon collected.
Both buildings have recently had a facelift and the Bothy has been converted into a halfway house where golfers can purchase snacks and refreshments while taking a well-earned breather at the turn and enjoying the stunning scenery.

Course Architects

Many hands have shaped Nairn golf course and in 1887 Andrew Simpson Keeper of the Green at Royal Aberdeen laid out the original design. In 1890 the” Grand Old Man” of golf,” Old Tom Morris “revised the course and extended it westward over the Earl of Cawdor’s property. Twenty years on, and the most prominent impact on the layout of the Championship course was from the five times Open Champion James Braid (and the first to break 70 here with a 69 in 1901) altered tees and bunkers before creating new greens of singular subtlety. Then, in 1920, new holes at Delnies were designed by the irrepressible Ben Sayers of North Berwick before, once more, Braid returned to contribute his expertise. And in 2018 the Club undertook a large renovation project of the Championship course from renowned Architects Mackenzie and Ebert.