Golf is first documented as having been played at Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire in 1613 when the Parish Kirk Session records refer to a young lad named John Burnett who was chastised for “playing at the gouff” on a Sunday instead of going to church . He was ordered by the Session to be sent to the “maister’s stool for correction”.
Following receipt of documents from the National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh it has been firmly established that the Fraserburgh Golf Club was founded on 14th April 1777 and that the membership consisted of nineteen of the most prominent “landed gentry” in the north-east of Scotland.
According to the display boards in the British Golf Museum, StAndrews, Fraserburgh Golf Club is the 5th oldest club in Scotland and the 7th oldest in the World. Fraserburgh Golf Club would appear to be the oldest golf club in the World still operating under its original name.
The original course was nine holes played on the “public commonty” (Fraserburgh Links) but due to congestion, danger to the public and constant interruption the Club, thanks to the generosity of the then Lord Saltoun, moved approximately half a mile south to its present location at Philorth Links in 1891.
Lord Saltoun was approached on the subject of the proposed new course, and without any hesitation or reservation, promptly agreed to place the ground at the disposal of the Golf Club. The Philorth Golf Course was opened, as already indicated, early in 1891.
The annual rent was absolutely nominal, and of the smallest proportions. Only those who really love the game can adequately appreciate the privileges and pleasures of the Philorth course, which has been so readily and so generously placed at the disposal of the community by the Superior.
The course was redesigned in 1922 by the five times Open Champion James Braid and the press excerpts details his visit and the work carried out.
Parts of his design remain to this day. This redesign has left us with the legacy of being one of the most natural traditional scottish links layouts which compares favourably with neighbouring clubs such as Cruden Bay Golf Club, Murcar Links Golf Club, Royal Aberdeen Golf Club and the Trump International Golf Links.
Below is footage from a fundraising fete in order to raise funds for a new Clubhouse which was eventually opened by Lord Saltoun in November 1937
The Course design was then adjusted in the late 1950’s when the existing 15th,16th and 17th holes were added.
In 1976 under the guidance of Alex Swan & 3 times Open Champion Sir Henry Cotton also offering comment the addition of the existing 8th,9th,11th & 12th brought all holes onto the same side of the B9033 with the 4 holes remaining on the clubhouse side of the road forming a small four hole layout. Gordon Moir was a member of the greens staff during this period and has since went on to hold very senior roles in the world of greenkeeping and is now the Vice President of BIGGA. The club purchased 34 acres from Lady Saltoun in 1994 for £15500 and created in Conjunction with design input from Jack Pressley, who was a distinguished Scottish International and contested the Scottish Amateur Championship in 1947 an additional 5 holes to add to the 4 hole layout which was opened for Play on what is now known as the Rosehill course in 1996.
Fraserburgh has had the privilege to have had many accomplished golfers over the years, the more recent successes are Jordan Findlay who won the British Boys Championship in 2004 at Conwy Golf club and narrowly missed out on making it back to back victories again in 2005 losing out in the final at Hunstanton.
Another Golfer worthy of mention is Kris Nicol who is widely regarded as one of the best players in the North East. Kris has represented Scotland at Amateur level and Still regularly competes on regional tours and has competed in Scottish Opens in the last few years. Kris is also gaining a reputation as a fantastic golf coach and is a fully qualified PGA professional.
Both Jordan and Kris are Honorary Members of the club
Following the disasterous fire in March 2004 the clubhouse was totally destroyed and with it all of the Club’s past records and documentation. Work is in hand to replace some of these records but research is likely to take several years. It was only in 2006, that this research unearthed the documents of 1777 in the National Library of Scotland.
After two years of voluntary work by many of the members the new clubhouse opened in May 2006
In more recent years Fraserburgh’s CorbieHill Links 13th hole provided inspiration for Kyle Franz in designing the Rio Olympic courses 9th hole.