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