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To the West, the Kirkgate, South Leith Church (a key local landmark at the time with a round steeple) and the site of the Scholars' Grammar School with Scholars' Holes (mentioned in Rule 13); to North-west, the Leith town; to North, the Port, Glass and Ropes Works and Leith Sands; to East, the road to Musselburgh (5 miles) and East Lothian; to South, fields until late 1700s and roads to Edinburgh (2miles). The world's first golf clubhouse for members, Golf House built in 1768, is also shown. By public demand, bowling greens built at Sawmill forced a shorter (yellow) course by 1824.
According to James Scott Marshall in 'Life and Times of Leith' (1986)' he referred to 'The "Scholar’s Holes' on the ground adjacent to the town wall at the churchyard. The Grammar School was administered from King James Hospital at the south-west corner of the churchyard, now South Leith Churchyard. A series of short holes were laid out for the benefit of scholars to learn the game and for old players no longer fit enough for the main Links course. In modern terms, it was a pitch-and-putt course.
In 1758, the records of the Company of Edinburgh Golfers a 5 shilling levy on each member for Links maintenance. In 1764, the City Council accepts after 20 years of competitions Edinburgh Golfers' petition to limit the Open to its Company members.
The social side of golf was very important to all golfers, using local taverns such as Straiton's Tavern in Leith or at the Golf Tavern at Bruntsfield Links in Edinburgh. The Gentlemen Golfers first headquarters was at Luckie Clephan's tavern (she was the widow of a noted club-maker) on Leith's Kirkgate street near Leith Links and provided storage for clubs.
In 1768, with rising Company memberships and confidence, the Company leased land to build its first clubhouse Golf House at Duncan Place over 2 floors of 8 rooms for wining and dining, meetings and storage of clubs. The first tee to Sawmill hole and the last hole of Thorntree Hole were adjacent to it. The Braehead Hole may have been a practice hole played towards the Clubhouse before starting a Round. In 1775, the Edinburgh Golfers introduced Rule 14 to describe a circuit of holes, called a 'Round':
"14. In playing, you are to strike off from the Braehead-hole, and play from it to the Sawmill, for the First Hole; from the Sawmill to the North Mid-hole, for the Second Hole; to the east Hole for the Third; to the South Mid-hole, for the Fourth; and to the Thorntree-Hole, for the Fifth, where the First Round ends; and every other Round is to begin at the Thorntree-Hole, playing from that to the Sawmill-hole, and from thence to the North mid-hole, etcetera, as above, until you come again to the Thorntree-hole, where every Round ends."
Its Gold Medal specified 2 Rounds of 5 holes each and records the lowest recorded strokes of 60 by HM Low in 1846 (later Secretary and Captain). By 1888, Minutes signed by another Lord Elcho confirmed a Club uniform of 'scarlet coat, with blue collar and club buttons' to be worn by the Captain and ex-Captains at formal Dinners. This is still the Club uniform of the Company now.
William Inglis, Captain (1792-94) perhaps on Lady Fyfe's Brae under a thorntree. Behind him, the Silver Club is being paraded with Tuck of Drum.
This painting also shows from left: the young caddy; in distant left background, South Leith Church with original round steeple and, right, tLeith glass factories towers and distant Fife hills; a coach taking a shortcut across the Links (the bain of every Captain's life); William Inglis, Captain, with goose-necked hickory club in Club uniform with badge of office and belt; a golf match by members and lastly, the Silver Club paraded with Tuck of Drum.
In March 1800, the Company of Gentlemen Golfers became a corporate body, 'The Honourable, The Edinburgh Company of Golfers'. This incorporation allowed ownership of a Council leases for Leith Links golf and for Golf House. Later, with the enlargement of the Port of Leith, as Leith's economy grew, so the larger population increased pressure on Leith Links as public ground.