The Honourable Company is the oldest contiguous golf club in the world (although Royal Blackheath might contest that statement!). Predating the R&A by 10 years, they were founded in 1744. For context, the club was born under the backdrop of the Jacobite uprising - the Battle of Culloden occurring in 1746.
In fact, John Rattray - HCEG’s first Captain - was a Jacobite rebel and Bonnie Prince Charlie’s personal surgeon. He was spared a likely execution by virtue of the political influence of his golfing buddies!
Rattray famously signed the first ‘Rules of Golf’ in 1744. 13 rules that formed the basis of those we still adhere to today. He was also the first winner of the Silver Club - the first known prize in golf. Both of these amazing artefacts are on display in HCEG’s marvellous clubhouse.
The Honourable Company originally played their golf over Leith Links from their genesis until 1824 – five holes located in what is now a suburb of Edinburgh. After outgrowing Leith, they moved to Musselburgh (see post of 18th March), where they shared the nine hole course with the other Musselburgh clubs. Six Open Championships were hosted here, but the Honourable Company controversially took the Championship to their new links (Muirfield) when it opened for play in 1892.
This Championship was won by Hoylake member Harold Hilton, and was the first time the Championship had been contested over 72 holes. Muirfield has since hosted a further 15 Opens.
Predominantly a two ball club, 36 holes of foursomes either side of the famous lunch is typically the order of the day. A club of 277 years of tradition, it is one of golf’s special places and a day here is one to be remembered for many years.