When Leith Links was closed to golf in 1904 - as a result of pressure of numbers on Leith Links and Bruntsfield Links courses - many new ones were built around Edinburgh, including Seafield's own course next to Leith Links. The City Council bought Braid Hills ground in 1889 for a new public course on the southside of Edinburgh with fine views of the City (named after the Gaelic word for 'upland'.). Leith Thistle's successor club, Edinburgh Thistle GC, plays there now. In 1907, the Council bought land for new public course in the nearby neighbourhood of Craigentinny.
For today's golfing enthusiasts, the sport in Edinburgh has grown to more than 20 golf courses within only 5 miles of Leith Links.
In the period that golf moved away to larger courses, it was replaced on Leith Links by other sports: cricket, football, tennis and bowls. Today, the West Links section is used for football, childrens' play areas and open parkland and no golf is played there. The East Links is used in summer by Leith Franklin Academicals Beige Cricket Club and it is around this central area that Leith Rules Golf Society have revived rounds of golf from 2002.
Shown above is the Modern 5-Hole Course laid out only in Golf Week playable only through our Society events.
Each year during our July Golf Week, with kind permission of the City of Edinburgh Council and support of Leith Links Community Council, tees and greens are marked out on East Leith Links parkland by an expert greenkeeper. It avoids other sports pitches to create a 5-Hole course. It mirrors in places the rough turf character of the original, starting from the North side of the East Links and is usually played in three rounds.
The 5 Holes on East Links are much shorter than the 400 yard holes of the historic 1744 Course across the whole of Leith Links. Shown is the Modern 5-Hole Course laid out only in Golf Week - playable only through our Society events days - see 'Events Calendar'. An arboretum of 80 trees was planted in 2022 near 2nd Tee.
To highlight Leith Links's role in golf history on this anniversary, Leith Rotary Club and Bobbie Ewart organised on 28 July 1984 a charity Match of 3 professionals with replica 1744 score cards to play two rounds of 5 holes on the original course layout. The competitors were: George Yuille of Royal Burgess GS, Jimmy Fisher of Murrayfield GC, John Garner and Lady Amateur Champion Maureen Madill, the well-known golf commentator.
The City of Edinburgh Council Recreation Department cut the lines of the originals holes and with financial support of the Scottish Development Agency, a cairn was erected on the west side to celebrate this event. Funds raised by the Rotary Club of Leith from the Match supported Leith Hospital Appeal and the 'City of Edinburgh' Lifeboat fund.
To celebrate 250 years since The Honourable Company's foundation with the Rules of Golf, a tree was planted on 7th March 1994 near the site of Thorntree Hole by The Lord Provost, The Right Honourable Norman Irons, and The Captain of The Honourable Company, Douglas Foulis.
Later on 18 March 1994, the Honourable Company played a match against High Constables of Leith in traditional golfing dress of the 1800s. It was a 6-a-side two-ball foursome Challenge Match of wooden clubs and featherie balls. The Honourable Company won by two matches to one.
In 'The Society' section, it describes a celebration of Links golf to coincide with the Open at Muirfield with the first Hickory Open on the weekend of 12/13 July 2002. After qualifying rounds, the Final of 5 holes was played with traditional equipment in traditional dress.
As well as supporting the Hickory Open, The Society held its first Open Day on Sunday 13th July 2002 for the public to play the same 1744 Course, receive golf coaching and view an exhibition of historic golfing equipment.
The renewal of Leith Links golf had begun and led to the founding of Leith Rules Golf Society six months later in 2003.
As reported at the time: 'The inaugural Leith Rules Hickory Golf Open got off to a flying start in glorious sunshine on Leith Links. A field of 14 teams played three times round the five-hole course on Saturday. The top four teams came back on Sunday for matchplay knockout. "
Claremont Motors team, Fraser Stewart and Darrin Little (front centre), were our first winners of the Society's Hickory Open, proudly hold the mounted hickory club trophy with finalists and semi-finalist team Foot of Leith Walk GS. See 'Event Reports' Section
The Unveiling of John Rattray Statue on 11 September 2019 by Alistair Campbell, Captain, The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers (HCEG) and John Dixon, President of our Society, to celebrate John Rattray as the Signatory to the first Rules of Golf competition, played here on Leith Links.
As winner, he became the first Captain of The Honourable Company, now of Muirfield in East Lothian.