The Official Ceremony of the Reopening of Balcomie, 1895
On the 3rd July 1895, before several hundreds of spectators, Balcomie Links were declared open for golf, the first ball being struck by Professor Chiene, a descendant of one of the founders of the Society and the second ball by the Father of Golf - Old Tom Morris.
When the Society was instituted in 1786, all golf was played on the narrow strip of shoreland at the north east end of Crail. It was part of Sauchope Farm and neither the Crail Town Council nor Crail Golfing Society had any title to the land although the inhabitants of the Royal Burgh of Crail played golf there long before the formation of the Society. Indeed Chambers Gazeteer of Scotland published in 1832 mentioned the existence of a golf club in Crail in 1760. In the early days the Society played over 8 holes at Sauchope and in 1872 another club the “East Neuk of Fife Golf Club” was formed and they played over the same links. The clubs amalgamated in 1894 and retained the name of Crail Golfing Society. The combined club was not satisfied with Sauchope Links and a committee was formed to look at developing land at Balcomie Farm and it was agreed to take the opinion of Old Tom Morris, who reported that the Balcomie Links were “very suitable for a nine hole course and I am bound to say that there is not a better in Scotland.”
The following is an extract from the East of Fife Record newspaper published on 17 May 1895:
“The links have just been gone carefully over and examined by Tom Morris, St Andrews. He states that there is not a finer nine hole course in Scotland and that better golfing turf could not be found than what is on Balcomie Links, where the soil is composed of sand. It will be a full nine hole course, as some of the holes will be over 400 yards distance from each other and there is ample space for the golfers playing out and in without coming into contact with each other. The starting point will be Fifeness and the line of play outwards will be by the side of the Lifeboat Station until “Mary’s Skelly” is passed, when it takes a turn to the “Fleukdub”,where the home coming play commences and proceeds on the other side of the links until the top of the hill at Constantine’s Cave is reached, where the last hole is to be placed. The new golf course is also beautifully situated along the sea coast of the German Ocean, on which there is a considerable stetch of beautiful silvery sand very suitable for sea bathing. From the rising ground on the links near to Constantine’s Cave, where a king of that name is said to have been killed by the Danes, and where it is proposed to erect a clubhouse, the view is magnificent. Altogether the good folks of Crail are to be congratulated on having made such a splendid acquisition. The links which are being put in order in accordance with the lines laid down by Tom Morris, will be ready for playing over next month.”
The opening ceremony took place at the first teeing ground opposite Craighead Farmhouse where the Provost of Crail welcomed all those attending then passed over to the Captain Professor Chiene who thanked all those who had contributed to the development of Balcomie Links and finished by asking for three cheers for Balcomie Links then declared the links open.