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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March 7th 2009 

Our celebration of the 265th anniversary of the signing of the original rules saw a good attendance of members and guests at Musselburgh Old Course Golf Club, a most appropriate venue for the event.  

One of the guests hailed from Australia, though in the interests of honesty it has to be stated that he was in Leith anyway and had not travelled halfway round the world just to be with us !

After an excellent lunch and much convivial talk, Mr Iain McIntyre of the Royal College of Surgeons gave a spellbinding talk entitled -

"John Rattray - who was he and why did he play golf ?" 


Iain started by describing King James IV of Scotland (1473-1513) who had ratified the group who became the Royal College of Surgeons, but of much more importance to us - he was a golfer !

Turning to John Rattray, Iain explained how he had become a surgeon, Freeman and a member of the Royal Company of Archers, successfully winning the Silver Arrow in 1735 and 1744.

That same year, 1744, John signed the original rules of golf as captain of the golfers at the Links and the rest, as they say, is "history".

However, the Rattray story still had twists and turns to take. A year later, the family joined the Jacobite cause and John treated the wounded at the battle of Prestonpans. However, along with many supporters of that cause, he was condemned to death at the end of that campaign, but was saved by Duncan Forbes, who had been a golfing companion with him at Leith Links !

John returned to surgical practice and won the Silver Club at the Links again in 1751 before dying in 1771 at the age of 64.

Iain concluded with a quotation from Dr Benjamin Rush (1745-1813), which met with the wholehearted agreement of those present -

"Golf is an exercise which is much used by gentlemen in Scotland ... a man would live 10 years the longer for using this exercise once or twice a week"

The only additional comment needed for our current times - "it applies equally to both genders"!


Iain McIntyre tells us all about John Rattray ......




Brian Graham, Society Secretary and organiser of the event, presents Iain with a Society tie