History/The Beginning

Formation

Mr AA Hagart Speirs Mr AA Hagart Speirs of landowners Elderslie Estates provided the land for the first Renfrew Golf Course at Haining Road.

Renfrew Golf Club's founders were a group of businessmen from Renfrew and Govan.

They discussed the feasibility of establishing a golf club in the Royal Burgh and decided to approach Mr AA Hagart Speirs of Elderslie Estates, one of the local landowners. Enough land for laying out a nine hole course was granted.

A meeting for all those interested in joining the new club was advertised and on Friday 28 September 1894 a constitution and rules were laid down and approved. This is regarded as the official founding date of Renfrew Golf Club. The initial enrolment consisted of about 40 gents. Unlike many Scottish golf clubs, ladies were accepted at Renfrew within its inaugural year.

Mr W Herron was appointed Club Captain and Mr Anderson Secretary/Treasurer.

The first committee included Messrs: French, Brown (Walter), McLelland, Moffat, Smith and Buchanan. The entrance fee and annual subscription was 2.00 for the first 200 members.

Out In The Country

For some 20 years the Club was 'right out in the country' with only an isolated farmhouse to be seen. The Clubhouse was a wooden hut with a small part of it partitioned-off for the ladies.

It was situated about 100 yards up the Hillington Road from the old Renfrew to Glasgow Road. As there were no motor cars or buses at that time, members had to walk or use a bicycle.

The course was to be officially opened by Mr Hagart Speirs but come the day - 22 October 1894 - that function was carried out by the Provost of Renfrew, Mr Andrew Brown before a large attendance.

It seems almost unbelievable that a golf course of sorts could be laid out in less than one month.

In 1880 Scotland could boast only 43 golf courses. But such was the game's growing popularity that by 1910 a further 223 courses had been built. Some 43 of these were, like Renfrew, constructed between 1894 and 1896.

This rapid expansion in the Royal and Ancient game was possible because of the very basic requirements of "gowfers" at the turn of the century.

The game at that time was played on existing landscapes - courses were laid out rather than constructed - and so it was with Renfrew.

Standard Scratch and Course Maintenance

The maximum handicap was set at 18 and the Scratch Score for 18 holes (2 rounds of 9 holes) was fixed at 85. In 1900 it was reduced to 82.

The original layout had no bunkers and no proper teeing areas. Fairways were "rough" and the rough was "real rough" with the greens marginally better than close mown fairways.

Grass cutting machinery was hauled by horses who kindly provided natural fertiliser. Today we rely on chemical fertilisers and fungicides.

Not until 1927 were the first sand bunkers - 31 in total - constructed. While bunkers were appearing horses were disappearing. The first motor tractor appeared on the course in 1926.

The difficult conditions of the virgin courses and the primitive golfing equipment meant scores were high compared with today's standards

First Medal

Competition results were regularly intimated in the Paisley Gazette. The first was a Medal competition for gents presented by Provost Brown.

The Paisley Gazette (23 Sept. 1895) reads,
"Messrs. Adam Anderson and Tom Stevens met on Saturday to decide the holder of the Provost Brown Monthly Medal. Mr Stevens won by 4 points from Mr Anderson. Result:

  • Mr Anderson 107 less 18 Handicap
  • Mr Stevens 103 less 18 Handicap. "

18 Hole Course Formed

Following the construction in the 1920s of the King George V docks at Shieldhall the course was re-designed to form an 18 hole course.

Sufficient land was negotiated through Elderslie Estates and, with the expertise of the famous James Braid, the new course was laid out.

As well as a golf course architect of great standing, Braid was one of the world's top golfers winning the Open Championship no fewer than 5 times between 1901 and 1910.

On 20 May 1925 the new clubhouse at the eastern end of Haining Road was opened by Mr Hagart Speirs.

The clubhouse architect, Mr Graham Glen was a club member. He offered his services free of charge as did William Still who provided the electric lighting.

In the same year the Club was granted a liquor licence and members and visitors have been celebrating the decision ever since. Some 146 members voted in favour with 84 against.

Longest Course In West Of Scotland

The extended course was now the longest in the West of Scotland with a Par of 73.

According to Renfrew G C's minute book James Braid returned in 1930 to re-inspect the course.

He considered the construction of greens and fairways had been carried out very well and the course to be generally in excellent condition.


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