History of Tobermory Golf Club  –  Centenary Report

Tobermory Golf Club was founded in 1896 at a meeting in the Aros Hall on the 28th April and the first match was played over a course at Erray on the 10th June that year. Two years later the club built a course at Sgriobruadh. Between the years of 1900 and 1907 the club lapsed.

In 1907 a meeting on ‘Ladies and Gentlemen interested in the resuscitation of Tobermory Golf Club’ was held and the club reconstituted with a course between Achafraoich and Sgriobruadh one mile out of Tobermory to the north side of the Dervaig Road.

In 1935 the Western Isles Hotel, then in the ownership of MacBraynes, built an 18 hole course, designed by David Adams. They invited the Tobermory Golf Club to play on it and in 1937 the club was invited to manage the course and the name changes to the Western Isles Golf Club. The records cease during the war.

In 1947 the course was reopened as a 9 hole course owing to the expense of its upkeep. There was a crisis about the grazing of cattle on the course and the committee said it would disband the club if no arrangement could be reached. An agreement was made but sheep were to be allowed on the course and proved to be a great nuisance. Mr William Christie, the greenkeeper from 1933, was reappointed and continued until 1952. The club could not find anyone to take the post of greenkeeper so each member of the committee took over responsibility for one green. The following year the club took over the course which they rented from the hotel. The course was improved steadily from this point. Greenkeeping was in the hands of W. MacLean and continued in his care until his death in 1966 when he was succeeded by Richard Hughes.

Rabbit and sheep damage continued to be a problem. A more pressing problem arose in 1973 when the proprietor of the Western Isles Hotel wished to develop part of the course. The defence was mounted by Treasurer Alan Brown and Secretary Jake Backus and an attempt was made to purchase the course for the club. Despite the fact that this was unsuccessful, the threat of losing part of the course was diminished.

In 1976 the new owner of the Western Isles Hotel, Derek McAdam, completely refenced the course and for the first time the course was free from stock. This allowed the new greenkeeper, John Wilshire, to increase the pace of the improvements. Negotiations were started to obtain a long term lease or an option to purchase the course but little progress was made. At the AGM in February 1987 it was agreed that the name of the club revert to its original title ‘Tobermory Golf Club’ and in the following year negotiations for the purchase of the course from Mr McAdam were finalised.

As part of the purchase agreement the course had to be rearranged with a new entry road off the Erray Road. The old 6th hole became the 1st and contracts were arranged for the road and foundations of a new clubhouse which was built by Angus Robertson and completed in early 1992. Our joy at the opening in June was tempered with sadness at the death of Alasdair Brown a few months before. He had been the driving force in the negotiations having served as Captain, Secretary and Treasurer in the years leading up to the purchase. The committee set about improving the course helped by a grant of £5000 from the R&A. A new tractor, rough cutter and a greens mower were purchased. New tees have been constructed each year. Our greenkeeper became full-time in 1994. So we go into our Centenary year with the course and the club in very good heart.

Our Centenary year started on 28th April to commemorate the meeting in the Aros Hall on that date in 1896 where ‘the gentlemen favourable to the funding of a golf course’ started the Tobermory Golf Club.

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The Centenary Committee had been meeting over the previous 18 months and decided that we should have the most memorable year possible within the constraints of the Club’s financial state. Over the previous two years it had become obvious that our Clubhouse was inadequate to house the growing number of golfers and therefore a Centenary Extension was to be given priority. Despite disappointment in failing to secure grants from the Enterprise Board and the Sports Council Lottery Fund we were able to go ahead largely due to help and advice from the Scottish Golf Union and R&A. The designs were produced by Gordon Wallet of AGM Architects, Irvine and Angus Robertson was the builder. To commemorate the founding date the Club, with the help of the SGU arranged an exhibition match with two past Scottish Champions, Graham Lowson(1991) and Hugh McKibben(1994). The Club Captain, Richard Henderson and the Club record holder, Graham Davidson played with them and a large crowd turned out to watch the match. The day was rounded off with a supper and Ceilidh in the clubhouse. The next day the two visiting golfers played a teaching round with some of the juniors in the morning and in the afternoon a Foursome competition took place with Ladies, Gents and Juniors all taking part.

The annual match against Vaul Golf Club, Tiree was played on the weekend of the 1st & 2nd June. Before the match the new flag was flown for the first time and the first of many toasts drunk. The Cadden Cup was retained by Tobermory.

Minute Extract 1969

A Trophy was donated for competition between The Western Isles Golf Club and Vaul Golf Club on the Isle of Tiree. The donors John and Gilbert Cadden had for many years given a peripatetic dental service to the two islands by means of a boat equipped with a dental surgery. The annual competition played alternate years at Vaul and Tobermory has become synonymous with fierce competition, good fellowship and hospitality of the highest order.


New Trophies had been donated for the Centenary and they were played for on the 9th June, the date being the nearest to the 10th June when the first competition took place. Scratch and Handicap Trophies were competed for and the winners were: Men’s – Scratch: TimGardiner, Handicap: Angus Robertson Jnr. Ladies – Scratch: Kathy McAdam, Handicap: Fiona MacLean. Juniors – Scratch: Paul MacKinnon, Handicap: Andrew Parson.

The building of the extension had started in early April and the structure was completed by 6th July when the Tobermory Golf Club hosted the Argyll & Bute Area Team Championship. Despite poor weather the course was in the best condition and if to celebrate, the Club won the Trophy by a narrow margin.

August is the month when our Open Championship for the MacBrayne Cup (Scratch) and Willie MacAllister Trophy (Handicap) are staged. There was an exceedingly large entry and in good conditions the competition was fierce, G. Davidson winning the MacBrayne Cup and J.Weir the MacAllister Trophy. Late August saw a Fun Day open to all members young and old. All the holes were sponsored, either longest drive or nearest the hole etc. A large turnout made for an excellent day despite changeable weather. A barbecue was on hand with a large variety of food.

The Club retained the Old Mull Trophy in the annual home and away competition against Oban.

At the Annual Dinner and Dance we were very happy to have representatives from many of the institutions which had helped us so much over the years. Argyll and Bute Council Chairman, John Wilson, Dr George Gormley, President & Mr Graham Ewart of the Scottish Golf Union and Mr Willie Young, President of the Area Golf Union. The Western Isles Hotel provided an excellent meal and an attractive setting for the event. The New Years Day One Club Competition saw an enormous entry with about fifty competitors with nine five balls and a shotgun start. The competition was won by Patrick O’Doherty with an excellent score despite the hard ground. The many visitors had an enjoyable day. We now look forward to starting our 101st season at the beginning of April.


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Watch this space as we record the second Century at Tobermory Golf Club. . . . . 

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