Leith Rules Golf Society
The aim of the Society is to increase the recognition of Leith Links as the home of the earliest recorded rules of golf and one of the game's prominent early locations

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Hickory Open 2016

"For a memorable golfing experience using traditional hickory clubs, come to Leith Links and play on the very turf where golf's earliest rules were written"

The culmination of our week's golf at Leith Links was of course playing for the Hickory Open and Philip Knowles handicap trophies. The standard of play the night before at the Foulis Medal was not as good as it had been in previous years, would the players on this day show us how to do it?

We had fewer teams this year than in recent times. Musselburgh Old had rescheduled their Hickory Challenge event for the same day, which took some teams away, but we hope we can get back to a larger entry again next year.

The qualifiers for the final were 2 of our regular best teams, Munro Heating (44) and Network Cooling (45). Network Cooling quickly established a 3-hole advantage, but after 8 holes the match was back all-square - not too may halved holes! Network Cooling then edged ahead and the final hole was halved in par 4 to end a closely fought match, as is the norm with 4 excellent, evenly matched golfers.

The Handicap final for the Philip Knowles trophy saw last year's beaten finalists, ALandAL - Alex Fleming and Alastair Chalmers - take on The Merchants of Edinburgh - Robin Miller and Graeme Crawford. However, this does not tell the full story. The Portobello Boys (Chester Kruk and Lyle Scott) returned the best score, net 39, and should have taken on The Merchants on net 41. Chester had struggled round feeling unwell, which made his efforts all the more meritorious, but as this worsened in the clubhouse, he had no option but to retire. A day or so later he was in hospital having his appendix removed! Their place in the final went to ALandAL (net 42).

The final was evenly contested with no more than one hole in it all the way round until the penultimate hole when a par 3 by ALandAL clinched the trophy that had narrowly eluded them in 2015. But again, not the full story. Having played a decent tee shot, they looked on as a passing dog picked up their ball and ran off with it! Eventually it was retrieved and cleaned by the dog owner and replaced in the correct spot thanks to LRGS member Jim Scanlon, who was watching on.  Were the winners feeling guilty about sneaking into the final by the back door? Yes. Did they feel like giving the trophy to Chester and Lyle? Not a chance!


So, although the matches were as evenly contested as usual, a glance at the scores compared to previous years shows that the standard of play did not scale the heights sometimes reached. We had our usual mix of national handicaps, including 8 of the 20 players between 5 and 10, so we really cannot find a reason. At the end of the day, it's just what makes this game of golf the unfathomable and wonderful game that it is.


So, congratulations to the 2 winners and sincere commiserations to Chester and Lyle for being the closest "nearly players" in the history of our events!

The trophies were presented to the winners by our local MP, Deidre Brock. 

So ended another excellent week of hickory golf at Leith Links and we look forward already to 2017.


A final comment..... since the earliest days of the Society, Philip Knowles had taken a keen and active interest in our activities. Beyond the Society, he was well-known and respected as the Royal Burgess Archivist and he played a key role in the accuracy of our statue. Sadly, Philip died in April this year, but his name will live on for as long as we play for his trophy.

About the trophies ....

The club on the Hickory Open trophy is a mashie (5 iron is the closest modern-day equivalent) and was made by Hendry and Bishop circa 1905. It is stamped as "made in Edinburgh" and was almost certainly made at their workshop in Stead's Place, Leith. It was restored and donated to the Society by Philip Knowles. The mounting board and inscription were made and donated by David Kirkwood of Alexander Kirkwood & Son, Albany Street, Edinburgh

"A Much Travelled Leither"
This Ladies Mashie (c1920) began life in Leith and has crossed the Atlantic twice. The "acorn/twig" symbol is the import mark of Harry C. Lee, sports goods dealer N.Y. City. 

It was presented to the Society by Philip Knowles in 2009.

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