Greenock Golf Club
Centenary Year recollections by Eric Black (1990)
In 1873 the Rev. John Ireland and the Rev. W. W. Tulloch arrived in Greenock from St. Andrews to become ordained in local churches, Mid and Old West. They brought their clubs.
Their enthusiasm for the game sparked off local interest and that same year they headed a group who took a lease over Bow Farm and constructed six holes. Their indulgence in the game of golf was curtailed after three years when the chagrined tenant farmer heavily top dressed the fairways with fertilizer of the bovine variety. The course was closed and the club disbanded.
Until 1890, the group searched in vain for available land before procuring the lease of flat grounds at the Battery Park on the west foreshore of the town. ‘The Greenock Golf Club’ was founded and J. Campbell Hart was elected captain. Membership numbered approximately 50.
In 1892 the Club secured the lease of more suitable and extensive hill farm ground above the Battery Park. Nine holes were formed and a clubhouse was built. An ice skating section was linked to the Club in 1897, the pond at the 17th being the venue. Although the course was extended over the years it was 1924 before former Open Champion James Braid was invited to advise on reconstruction, the leased farmlands were purchased and an eighteen and a nine hole course were built, finishing in 1927.
During World War II, much of the course was taken over by the military to protect boom defences on the River Clyde and in 1946 the ground was reorientated to form the present eighteen and nine hole courses which have a delightful setting and command panoramic vistas, eastwards up the river to Glasgow and south westwards down the Firth of Clyde with the island of Arran forming the backdrop.
The Club has hosted several professional and amateur district championships on the SSS 68 part parkland, part moorland course and, over the years, members have been entertained to challenge matches and exhibitions by some of the worthiest exponents of the game. The first match in 1895 featured the then Open Champion J. H. Taylor and Willie Fernie of Troon, Open Champion in 1893.
Harry Vardon and Sandy Herd played two rounds in 1905, each recording 144 aggregate, and since those formative years, Roberto Di Vicenzo, Fred Daly, Dai Rees, John Panton, Bobby Locke, Jack Newton and Sam Torrance, to name but a few have exhibited their skills to the members. Panton’s professional record of 66 achieved in 1956 still stands.
The amateur record, reduced to 65 by Michael Sangster of Greenock in 1985 was equalled by another member, Marco Mazzoni in 1987 before he set a better record of 64 in May 1988. In recent years the Club’s Annual Tri-Am has become a very popular event, in which numerous internationalists and Walker Cup players have taken part.
Mark Risbridger now holds the current record of 62 along with Murdoch Carmichael.
Mark achieved his 62 in 2000 and Murdoch scored his in 2006.
The ladies course record is held by Claire Hargan with a 68 scored during the tri am.