The oldest golf club in the Scottish Borders didn't begin life with 18 holes.
The original golf course was designed with eleven holes initially of small 4-inch diameter cups, formed in the turf about 300 to 400 yards apart, and arranged in a course to suit the slopes of the town's Vertish hill.
If a competition was tied, then 22 holes were played.
Some members still feel that they have played 22 holes, by the interesting routes they take to play the magnificent 18 hole course we have now.
A town council report from 1870 read:
"The Hawick club already has 20 members, but, as it will require some more to be in full working order, we shall be glad if we have the effect of creating an interest in the game and bring out some new players.
The game can be played nearly all year round; it is not difficult to learn, and after a few rounds, players generally acquire a strong liking for it.
In conclusion, we wish the game of golf every success in Hawick, and recommend it to old and young as a most healthy recreation.”
In 1879 a further hole was added.
1894 saw a further redesign by the legendary golf architect and champion James Braid and 6 more holes were been laid out to complete the standard 18 holes that we have today.
The Vertish hill has seen many well known players guide a golf ball around its old course, none more so than the aforementioned visionary course designer & five times Open winner James Braid. On 25 September 1901, Braid played an exhibition match on the Vertish with the great Harry Vardon.
It was stated that year,
“ That if the golf club does nothing else but induce more inhabitants to go out, and enjoy the magnificent view and fresh breezes of the Vertish hill, it will confer a great benefit on the town”.
How true this has been for locals & visitors over nearly 150 years.
Some holes have been changed around over the years. The original course was some 4250 yards long with a par of 78.
Oh! How some members still wish for that length of course today.
In the early days of the club, the members had no clubhouse accommodation. It was not until the latter part of 1880, that a house was rented for this purpose.
It was soon found to be too small, and it was agreed to enlarge it in 1890.
Even this enlarged property was not big enough and a new clubhouse (which is still our current home) was constructed in 1894, and opened in May 1895 by the Rt Hon Earl of Dalkeith.
The doyen and greatest rugby commentator of them all, Bill McLaren, was a long term member of the club and very regular golfer, and our risk or reward downhill 16th hole was renamed in his honour, following his achievement of recording a hole in 1 at this par 4.
A cairn now marks and renames the hole - McLaren's Miracle.
In more recent times Hawick's world famous knitwear industry has influenced golf in the town.
In 1989 Sir Nick Faldo and Tony Jacklin visited the club to take part in an exhibition match. Club members Warren Renwick and Ian Oliver also had the honour of playing in this four ball match.
Nick Faldo again strode over the Vertish, when he played in an exhibition match in 1993 with Colin Montgomerie. Both of these matches were witnessed by large crowds, the biggest seen on the hill since the famous match between Vardon and Braid.
Local secondary school pupils still compete annually for the Faldo trophy donated and presented by the great champion.
Our course record is still held by Nick Faldo with a stunning 64.
No-one will ever have golf under their thumb, no round will ever be so good it could not have been bettered. Perhaps this is why golf is the greatest of games.
You are not playing a human adversary; you are playing ‘old man par’.
Long may golf continue to be played on the ‘humphie backit hicht’ of the Vertish Hill.
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