125 Years of Club History!
The Highlands of Scotland must be one of the most attractive locations to come and play golf, with Kingussie having been at the forefront in the area since the game was first played here in 1890. The following year marked the official recognition of the club by the R & A, with a nine hole course laid out on the west side of the River Gynack by Capt MacHardy, Chief Constable of Inverness-shire - at the considerable expense of £8. Original clubhouse 1898.
Following a local disagreement, golfers were ejected from the land later that year and had to make do with a temporary layout on the other side of the town, at Kerrow. However the dispute was short-lived and the next season saw the return of golfers to the original course. Seven years later, the first clubhouse was built, subsequently replaced in 1904 by a ‘slightly more pretentious’ construction, which itself proved inadequate for the growing numbers and was itself demolished to make way, in 1911, for a new clubhouse, at a cost of £500, the main part of which still remains as the core of the present building.
This period also saw the expansion of the course to a full eighteen holes, albeit different to today’s layout. Having played an exhibition match in 1906, Harry Vardon’s advice was sought for the expansion of the course to the other side of the river, and the modifications necessary to the original holes with the new course opening in 1908. Subsequent to this, in the late 1920s significant alterations took place for the closing holes, and in 1990 a new 10th hole was created.
Like many golf clubs in the last century, Kingussie experienced varied fortunes as the game grew. Up to the onset of the Great War, ‘the club went through a period of expansion, enthusiasm and initiative’ reflecting the prosperity of the district at the time. Post-war however, saw a very different set of circumstances, and the club struggled to survive, a position which was to be repeated after WWII. During the 1950s however, a decision to convert the unused putting green below the clubhouse into a caravan park at a time when a greater prosperity was appearing, saw the start of a turnaround in the club’s fortunes. Although only basic facilities were provided at the outset, the park attracted an increasing number of visitors, and soon had to be expanded to the west side of the road. Since then the appearance of fixed caravans, and a bold investment by the club in providing a water and electricity infrastructure to each of the sites, has ensured the continued success of the venture. Today, 57 caravans occupy the site, and the caravanner community represents a vital part of Kingussie Golf Club, through their support for the club, the restaurant and the bar.
So the 1990s and early part of this century saw a situation where visitor numbers were high, rangers on the busy course kept games moving and the club was in a thriving position, able to make investment on the course such as the upgrade of the 18th fairway, and also able to have the confidence to buy the course and clubhouse from the previous landowner ( Pitmain Estate ). Of course this was too good to last, and in common with many other smaller clubs, the extended period of recession has resulted in a more difficult trading environment in recent years.
The club has managed to withstand a difficult period in its history, and is now embarked upon plans to ensure that it keeps pace with the changes in demographics, changes in golfer expectations and changes in the promotion and management of golf clubs which have become ever more important in recent years. Success in these areas will ensure that Kingussie Golf Club flourishes at least for another hundred and twenty five years.