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400 years of golf at Fraserburgh

November 5, 2013

The quadricentennial of the earliest mention of golf being played at Fraserburgh falls on 18 th November as the Parish Records of 1613 clearly document.

In the early 17th century, and for a long time thereafter, the Kirk was all-powerful and it was strictly against the law that amusement, in any form, should be indulged in "in tyme of preiching". It was the duty of the Kirk elders to go round the parish during the time of devine service to ensure that nobody was "breaking the Sabbath" and to report every such misdemeanour to the Kirk Session.

"Playing at the gouff" was a common pastime and indulging in it instead of going to church was considered a serious desecration of the Lord's Day, punishable by being "referit to the minister stuill for correctioun" .

Extract from Fraserburgh Parish Records - 18th November, 1613

Rough translation of the aforementioned extract:

"The Session of Fraserburgh held November 18 th 1613.

On the said day appearing before the court John Burnet, son of James Burnet; Robert Farquhar, servant; John Fraser and James Troup lawfully standing hereto are held convicted of breaking the Sabbath by playing golf in the time of preaching. The said John Burnet is referred to the minister's stool of repentance. The rest are ordained to suffer punishment from the magistrate"

It is not known from these records the whereabouts of the misdemeanour, however, in a similar incident circa 1617 the offenders were "playing at the gouff" on the links at Phingask.

The next major golfing anniversary is sometime off, in 2027, when Fraserburgh Golf Club will celebrate its sestercentennial or quarter-millennial (250 years). Having been established on 14 th April, 1777, Fraserburgh is the 5 th oldest golf club in Scotland, the 7 th oldest in the World and the oldest north of St Andrews. Our present golf course came into play in April, 1891, the same year as the Open Championship course at Muirfield near Edinburgh.


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