Leith Rules Golf Society
The aim of the Society is to increase the recognition of Leith Links as the home of the earliest recorded rules of golf and one of the game's prominent early locations

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A brief history of golf on Leith Links






Leith Links has been home to some of the world's most colourful golfing characters of the past: Mary, Queen of Scots probably played here, and it is known that James VII and Charles I enjoyed games at Leith. 

The Gentlemen Golfers of Leith were established in the early 18th century. In 1744, they asked the City of Edinburgh for a trophy for competition; they duly received a "Silver Club" on condition they created a set of rules for the event. Thus, the first rules of golf came into existence. Nobody can say for certain where golf, or its derivatives started, but this stipulation by the City Council gives Leith a unique place in the history of golf and which the Society seeks to maintain appropriate recognition for. 

Where the Links originally stood is now a mixture of public park, with football and cricket pitches, public footpaths, allotments,  houses, shops, factories, offices and a busy road now stands where some of the original holes were sited.

here are some images across the centuries ...............




Detail from etching showing King Charles I  playing golf on Leith Links and reading of the Irish Rebellion.


Detail of the silver club prize, with its City of Edinburgh emblem (from an engraving).

The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers spent almost 100 years on Leith Links. In 1836 they moved to Musselburgh, and from there to Muirfield in 1892, owning its own clubhouse and course for the first time.

Musselburgh Old Course Golf Club continues to this day, the link-up between them and our Society enshrines this centuries-old link.

Muirfield, of course, is a venue for The Open Championship and is rated one of the world's greatest courses. 




The first known international foursome,
Leith Links, 1681. The Duke of York (later James VII) partnered John Paterson against two English noblemen.

  This drawing from 1788, shows the Silver Club, the prize for the annual tournament on Leith Links. The winner became captain for the following year and had a silver ball with his name engraved attached to the club. Here it is being paraded in public, "with  tuck of drum", as the official advertisement for the event.

The Society's logo derives from this picture.

A golf tournament on Leith Links in 1867.

Also from 1867, an etching showing golf on Leith Links.

John Taylor, three times captain of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers: 1807/8; 1814/5; and 1823-5


In July 2002 the Open Championship was held at Muirfield and from 13th to 22nd July the celebrations returned home, to where it all started. At the Leith Rules Golf event, over 400 people from around the world played five holes on the Links, using period equipment, walking in the footsteps of those early golfers. Archie Baird, a member of Muirfield and an eminent local golf historian, follows in the sartorial footsteps of John Taylor.

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