The Musselburgh Old Links is under threat from a proposed expansion of the racecourse that surrounds this 9 hole piece of golfing history. The playing of golf on Musselburgh Links can be dated from at least as far back as 1672 and although the course has seen changes over the years, seven of the remaining greens on the course today date back to 1855 or earlier. It is widely regarded as being one of the oldest golf courses in the world that is still played on in largely its original form.
It is the course where one of the oldest golf trophies still being competed for still takes place and it was where the size of the present standard golf hole originated. Importantly, it was where the first recorded ladies competition was held in 1811.
Calum Todd, one of Scotland’s leading golf course architects, says, “While, these facts are important in considering the history about this piece of land, it is from the mid 19th century onwards that the golf course attained its true importance. It was a vibrant economic and sporting centre and a stimulus for international golf as we know it today. It was the venue for Open Championships on six occasions, it was the centre of a thriving golf industry, it received the patronage of royalty and it was the home course of five Open champions including the famous Willie Park Jnr.”
The course is now under threat from the expansion of the horse racing track to accommodate an all weather track. In the opinion of Calum Todd and many others the impact of this development “will alter the course to the severe detriment of its historical significance as a time capsule of the origins of golf as the game we know and love today.”
“No one would disagree that the Old Links cannot compete with the likes of Carnoustie or Turnberry as a modern day golf destination,” Todd continues, “however, the course’s place in history is why golfing pilgrims from all over the world come to play the Old Links. On inspection of the visitors’ book during a recent visit I counted entries from no fewer than 78 countries and US states for this summer alone. You remove the historical reason for playing the course and you remove the reason for coming, and that would have a serious financial impact on the course.”
Calum Todd has been called to appear at a forthcoming Public Enquiry as an expert witness on behalf of the objectors, Musselburgh Community Council. Many of the game’s greats have written expressing their horror at the proposals including Jack Nicklaus and Sam Torrance.
He cites a letter from an American tourist that sums up the situation. Jason Topp of New York wrote, “On my next visit to Scotland I would be greatly interested in playing the Musselburgh Old Links. If the course is altered as planned, I would have no interest in playing the course.”
Calum Todd would like to hear from others who agree that this statement reflects the views of other golfers around the world. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Musselburgh Old Course www.musselburgholdlinks.co.uk