2nd April 1744

The first ever winner of a round of golf

The rules of golf were formalised by the Gentlemen Golfers of Leith in 1744. Having decided to hold a competition, they needed to decide exactly what was and wasn’t acceptable, so they devised 13 articles, which they published in their first book of minutes.

The first match was between 11 players at Leith Links, competing for a silver golf club, donated by the City of Edinburgh. The course was shorter than is used in a modern-day competition, with just five holes. The longest of these was the 495-yard (453m) South-mid.

Royal surgeon wins

The winner was John Rattray, a surgeon for the royal family. As well as winning the silver club, he had the honour of being Captain of Golf for the next 12 months, in which capacity he signed the rules by which he’d won. They are now held by the National Library of Scotland.

The Leith Rules Golf Society erected a bronze, life-size statue of Rattray on the Leith Links, which was unveiled on 11 September 2019. The plaques affixed by it tell the story of that first game, and of Rattray’s fortunate escape from the gallows some years later. He won the championship for a second time in 1745 but, as a Jacobite supporter, he was captured at Culloden and sentenced to death. He escaped the gallows when his friend and golfing partner, Lord Duncan Forbes, secured his release.



Other events that occured in April

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