part 1 - origins
On this page we briefly chart the origins of the Bonnyton Moor golf course from its construction under the watchful eye of world-renowned course architect, Dr. Alister Mackenzie,
to the opening of Bonnyton Golf Club in 1957.
around Bonnyton was mainly moorland used only for sheep grazing. On the other
side of what is now the Kirkton Moor Road was a large wood - the Common Wood
- which was cut down during the First World War, the timber being required
for railway sleepers, pit props, etc.
The original Bonnyton Moor Golf Club was built
around 1922 by James Stephen Lindsay, originally from Laurencekirk
in Kircardine, who was a publican in Glasgow. It was publicised
". . situated 9 miles from Glasgow at
a height of 800 feet above sea level on the slopes of Ballagioch
hill (1084 ft.) which commands an unrivalled view of mountain and
vale comprising ten counties. Easily accessible by a regular bus
service to Eaglesham."
James Stephen Lindsay
According to Mairi Maxwell (nee Lindsay), great-niece of the original owner,
the land was originally
purchased in 1919. Sometime after the Clubhouse was built, the Lindsay family
experienced financial difficulties and was forced to sell their home and other
interests - with the exception of the Brechin Bar which stood at the corner of
Aikenhead Road and Calder Street in Glasgow's South Side.
Mairi, who lives in British Columbia, Canada, has kindly provided the photographs below:
James Stephen Lindsay, original owner of Bonnyton Moor golf course
Dedication of a sundial plinth at Bonnyton Golf Club in
1935 after the death of James Stephen Lindsay.
group includes Mrs. Lindsay, her daughters and
David Read and William Queen.
The 'Golf Doctor'
The course at Bonnyton was originally designed by Dr. Alister Mackenzie, the English-born Scottish course architect whose career spanned 27 years and included some of the most iconic courses in the UK, America and Australia.
Fergus Bisset, writing for Golf Monthly, says:
'When the world’s best golfers visit the
majestic Augusta National each April for the
US Masters, they’ll be treading fairways
and firing into greens created by Dr Alister MacKenzie.
Between 1907 and his death in 1934, he became one of
the game’s most skilful and prolific golf-course architects.'
Mackenzie believed that the prevailing philosophy of course design, based on penalising poor play
with bunkers and other hazards, was flawed and that the game should be enjoyed by players of all abilities. This guiding principle drove him to design courses which made the most of the subtle, natural contours of the available terrain and saw him travelling the world to advise on the construction or re-design of courses like Moortown, Leeds, home of the 1929 Ryder Cup; Royal Melbourne; Cypress Point and, most famously, Augusta National.
Over a period of several months in late 1922 until March 1923, Dr. Mackenzie advised on and occasionally supervised works at Bonnyton
which was officially inaugurated in June 1923 with an exhibition match played by George Duncan, Abe Mitchell, J. H. Kirkwood and multi-Major winner, Walter Hagen (see below).
You can read more about Alister Mackenzie at the Alister Mackenzie Society of Great Britain and Ireland's website.
Instead of a conventional clubhouse, Lindsay built a Dormie House
(literally, a sleeping house)
where players could stay for a
weekend or longer, rolling out of bed on to the first tee. Three rounds
of golf were quite common in those days when two-and-a-half hours was
the norm for 18 holes. The green fee was half-a-crown which was considered
expensive at the time. The Dormie House had no mains electricity and power was provided by a generator situated where the caddycar shed is today.
part 2 - a change of ownership
After the Second World War, Bonnyton Moor's story
remained unremarkable until the mid-50s when events took a unique
and historical turn.
After years of prejudice and discrimination by
many private members' clubs, Glasgow's Jewish community took matters
into their own hands and established a Golfing Society which organised
competitions played over a number of municipal courses. However,
their ambitions were more audacious and their efforts bore fruit
in the summer of 1957.
The following passage is adapted from the Souvenir
Programme to mark the opening of Bonnyton Golf Club on 19th. May
"It is known that
golf has been played by Jewish Citizens of Glasgow almost from the
turn of the last century, but it was in 1931 that the first attempt
was made to form a society for organised competitive play. In that
year, under the auspices of the Glasgow Jewish Institute, a Golf
Section was formed and the first stroke play competition was played
over the course of the Dullatur Golf Club. Thereafter, medals were
played over Dullatur, Clober and Bonnyton Moor.
Several trophies were contested, The Solly
Yaffy Cup, The Segal Trophy, The Harry Morris Shield, The Mandel
Cup, etc., but the highlight of each season was the Talmud Torah
Trophy, a knockout competition eventually to be superseded by the
Finkelstein Charity Cup.
Right up to the outbreak of war in 1939 the
Club made progress helped by the enthusiasm of its members. The
name of Mr. R.E. Lyons was always to the fore in Jewish golfing
circles of the time and some of the members of the Club in that
decade [1930s] are still playing an active part in the administration
of the present Club. Activities were resumed after the cessation
of hostilities and membership increased so rapidly that only Troon's
three municipal courses could cope with the enthusiasm of Jewish
golfers who will always be grateful to Troon Burgh for the many
happy days spent there.
In 1951 the first steps were taken which led
up to today's happy event. Inspired by the lead given by the late
Mr. Michael Schuster, ably followed up by such stalwarts as Henry
Simmonds, Dick Wolfson, Jack Kiemel and Sidney Solomons (not forgetting
Issy Gilman, Leslie Wolfson and the committee members), the Glasgow
Jewish Golf Club (Building Fund) went from strength to strength.
From its foundation in 1951 the funds grew rapidly and when, in
1956, the opportunity to purchase Bonnyton Moor Golf Course presented
itself, it found the Club ready and eager to pursue its objective. The job required drive, initiative and ability, and, under
the leadership of Mr. Louis Ferrar, ably assisted by the Building
Fund Committee, the objective was attained.
Acknowledgement must be made to the large number
of people who contributed so readily to the project and to the small
band of men whose foresight, ability and hard work have culminated
in the . .
'BONNYTON GOLF CLUB'
Bonnyton Golf Club Committee 1957
H. Sellyn, L.Lott, W. Cowan, B. Brill, A. Segal,
J.P. Jacobson, D.A. Woolfson.
P. Konchater, Dr.R. Wolfson, C. Black, N. Harrison,
J.H. Simmonds, S. Solomons, A. Glaser.
L. Wolfson, L. Ferrar (Capt.), M. Segal (Hon.
J. Kiemel, I. Gillman
Billy the Goat
We were contacted by Valerie Harper who wrote with information about the
person who took the photographs of the Lindsay family and the plinth dedication:
"My name is Valerie Harvey and I am writing to you from Nanaimo,
British Columbia, Canada on behalf of my mother May Morgan Stimpson,
who was reminiscing about her childhood – she will be 90 this November
– and the time she spent at Bonnyton Moor Golf Club where she
was taken by her father, my grandfather, James C. Morgan. He was a
friend of Mr. Lindsay, the gentleman who started the course.
was a professional photographer in Glasgow and on looking at your photographs of the Lindsay family
we figure the pictures shown may have been his work. He did photography
for The Glasgow Herald as well as many private contracts.
"My mother said the Lindsay
girls were very kind to her as her mother had died when she was 5 and
she was a lonely child. She (May) also told a tale of a goat by the
name of "Billy" no
Although both Mairi Maxwell and Valerie Harvey live in British Columbia, they had no
knowledge of each other and their links to Bonnyton were purely coincidental. However
we were able to put them in touch with each other and they subsequently
met, together with Valerie's mum, May, to reminisce in person.
When Mairi heard the story of "Billy" the goat, she remembered
a photograph from the Lindsay collection which she sent to May. Upon
seeing the photograph, May immediately said "that's me riding Billy
Now that's a coincidence!
A Famous Wedding
In the mid-thirties the Club Manager was a man called
Jimmy Vallance who had been a trainer at Stoke City Football Club. He invited
Stoke's greatest player, Stanley Matthews, for a golfing holiday where he
met Jimmy's daughter Betty who was also a keen golfer. After a year's engagement
the couple were married and held their wedding reception in the Clubhouse.
In his autobiography "The Way It Was", Matthews recounts the
story of how the romance was almost over before it started due to his
obsession with football and training. Betty had returned to Scotland from
a visit to Stan's family in Stoke, fed up of constantly being let down:
"Football was of immense importance in my life but
I realised that so, too, was Betty. I raced down to the bank, withdrew
some money and ran like crazy in the direction of Stoke station. The journey
to Scotland seemed to take an age, but I consoled myself that every inch
of progress took me an inch closer to Betty. On arriving in Girvan, I
hit the ground running and did not stop until I reached Jimmy Vallance's holiday
home. Betty was shocked to see me. I wasn't at my best. My shirt was clinging
to my back with perspiration, my tie was askew and my hair looked like
"We were married in the clubhouse of Bonnyton Golf Club near Glasgow and
my happiness knew no bounds."