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Historic Link between Scotscraig Golf Course and the USA's Race Brook Golf & Country Club
October 23, 2012

A fascinating historic link has been uncovered between one of Carnoustie Country's oldest golf clubs, Scotscraig in Tayport, and one of the USA 's most highly-esteemed golf course designers and golf coaches - Robert D Pryde.

Amongst other top American golf courses, Robert Pryde designed one of the first golf courses in America , the golf course at New Haven , home of Yale University , as well as the famous Race Brook Golf & Country Club in Connecticut . In addition, Robert Pryde became one of the American game's most highly sought-after greenkeepers, was a noted maker of golf clubs. , was one of the original members of Connecticut Golf Association and, under his coaching, the golf team from Yale won 12 of the first 15 national inter-university competitions.

However, before sailing away to a new life in America in 1892, Robert Pryde was simply a 20-year-old Tayport carpenter who enjoyed playing golf on Scotscraig, where he helped out in the golf shop from time to time. After emigrating, Robert Pryde's links to his home town gradually faded and it wasn't until earlier this year that members of Scotscraig Golf Club realised that a fellow member was considered one of the founding fathers of American golf.

"We only discovered the connection when the President of Race Brook wrote to Scotscraig inviting representatives from their founding member's original golf club to join in with Race Brook's 2012 centenary celebrations," explains Ian MacMillan, Vice Captain of Scotscraig, the 13 th oldest golf club in the world.  

Ian and Scotscraig Captain Gordon Landsburgh accepted the invitation and travelled to Connecticut to take part in Race Brook's centennial celebration this summer - but not before they'd fully researched the story of Scotscraig's newly-discovered and highly-illustrious golfer. "We discovered that Robert Pryde was the son of a local coal merchant who, after being educated in Tayport and at Harris Academy in Dundee, trained as a joiner and cabinet maker at technical college in Glasgow ,"said Gordon.

While researching Robert's family tree, Gordon and Ian realised that Scotscraig Ladies Captain Gertrude Paton, who died in 2007 at the age of 102, was Robert Pryde's niece. "Gertie was a lifelong member of Scotscraig so it was lovely to discover this family link," recalls Gordon. "We contacted Gertie's daughter and she explained that Robert Pryde, his wife and their daughter Mary had attended Gertie's wedding in 1937 before returning to America on board The Queen Mary."

Further investigations led to the discovery of a cabinet in Wormit which was made by Robert Pryde before he want to America - and still referred to by its owners as 'Uncle Bob's Bookcase'. "This family, who are also relatives of Robert Pryde, told us that the wood Robert used for the cabinet was said to be from one of the carriages of the train lost in the Tay Rail Disaster," added Ian.

As a result of their research, Ian and Gordon were able to provide members of Race Brook with the story of Robert Pryde's life before he left Tayport, where he learnt to play golf, how to mend and make golf clubs - and also grasped the finer points of golf course design.

"When we were in Connecticut , the fruits of Robert's life in America were all too evident," said Gordon. "From the famous golf courses he designed - and which show many similar traits to several Carnoustie Country golf courses - to the continued success of Yale University 's golf team, to the scholarships he bequeathed to Yale and to young golfers in New Haven which have ensured Robert's golfing legacy continues."

Gordon added that, in honour of the historic link between the two clubs, Scotscraig and Race Brook have signed an agreement enabling Scotscraig members to play golf at Race Brook and vice versa. "We are incredibly proud that a Tayport golfer played such an instrumental part in the success of golf in the USA and it will be wonderful to welcome members of the club founded by Robert Pryde in America to his home golf club in Tayport."

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