ON the evening of Wednesday, February 15, 1888, a meeting was held in Stonehaven Town Hall to discuss a proposal from the local Postmaster, a Mr J C Robertson, to set up a golf club in the town.
Two months later, the local newspaper of the time, the “Stonehaven Journal and Kincardineshire Advertiser”, reported that indeed a golf club would be set up - and it would be on land owned by Captain Innes of Cowie.
The paper said that Captain Innes “would be happy to allow members to play over the course during his pleasure” - for an annual rent of one shilling per annum.
Thus Stonehaven Golf Club was born and, in the New Year, the club will be celebrating its 125th anniversary, making it one of the oldest sporting clubs in Stonehaven, pre-dated only by the cricketers in 1872 and the bowlers in 1884.
Innes Medals are still played for on the first Saturday of every summer month at the club in memory of its benefactor, but the good Captain would be hard pushed to recognise the Stonehaven GC of 2013.
The original ten-hole course has stretched to 18 holes and the tiny thatch-roofed and windowless clubhouse is no more, with its replacement situated about a mile nearer Stonehaven on the Braes of Cowie, where its glass-fronted lounge enjoys one of the very best views in the whole world of golf.
Like all sports clubs, Stonehaven GC has had its fair share of ups and downs over the years but it has been fortunate in each generation to have had enough volunteers among its membership willing to devote time, effort and expertise to ensure golf continues to be played in Stonehaven.
Times have been particularly tough for golf in very recent years as clubs all over the country have struggled to survive, with the continuing financial crisis meaning that more and more golfers have decided to do something different with their hard-earned cash.
What Stonehaven GC has tried to do to retain members and attract new recruits has been to increase the quality of what is on offer at the club.
Thanks to a number of local sponsors, notably the club’s main sponsor, Groundwater Lift Trucks, the clubhouse has been refurbished inside and out and the clubhouse staff make it their mission to be welcoming to all, members and visitors alike.
Functions are held regularly there - and even the odd wedding - with carveries of a high quality provided by the club caterers, the Cool Gourmet.
The club’s facilities are also enjoyed by a growing number of non-golfing social members, who can join for the ridiculously-cheap price of less than £1 a week.
For golfers, a state-of-the-art booking system was installed earlier this year meaning both members and visitors can book tee times on-line.
Outside, too, the emphasis has been on improving the quality of the course and earlier this summer the North-east Champions of Champions final was held at the club as well as a meeting of the North-east Alliance, involving some of the best amateurs and pros in the area. On both occasions, the players hailed the Stoney greens as among the best in the North-east.
Two journalists from golf-mad Sweden played the course in September and the subsequent article in a golf magazine seems sure to attract more visitors from Scandinavia in the next year or so, joining a number of regulars who make the trip from Norway to Stonehaven every year.
Former Open champion and Ryder Cup hero Paul Lawrie has been a frequent visitor in recent years too, thrilling the club’s best juniors by playing a round with them and passing on some valuable tips as well as presenting the annual prizes to the youngsters. The club expressed its gratitude by making Paul an Honorary Member.
Encouraging young golfers, of course, remains a key task for the club and a successful Club Golf programme continues to be run to give primary-age children a first taste of the pleasures of smacking a golf ball.
Plans are also in place for 2013 to make club membership even better value for young men and women up to the age of 25 in an effort to keep them part of the golfing family.
So if you or a member of your family is looking for a New Year resolution, why not make it to give golf a try in 2013 - and at Stonehaven. You can be sure of a warm welcome at the 125-year-old club just up the road from the town.