The history of the Muirfield Golf Course goes hand in hand with that of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, one of the oldest golf associations of which we have evidence. Indeed, the green meadows of Muirfield were the last stop on an incredible journey that lasted more than a century.
Golfers and gentlemen
Edinburgh, year 1744. A group of golf addicts has a habit of getting together to play in Leith, a suburb north of Edinburgh. They call themselves the Gentlemen Golfers of Leith, or the Gentlemen Golfers of Leith, and they are one of the many groups of enthusiasts one can cross paths with on Scottish courses. However, the story takes a different turn for them.
Challenging friends is fun. However, what if they opened the challenge to others as well? This sounds like a really good idea, one to propose to the Edinburgh administration as well. In fact, the idea is so good that the administration approves it. On one condition: the city will raffle off a silver driver, but the association must draw up a list of clear and precise rules for the competition.
Up to this point, the group of friends has always been just that: a group of friends who are out of town to take two shots at a ball. However, they are now an official association and must cloak their competitions with officialdom as well. They then put down a list of 13 items summarizing the rules of their game, then present it to the city administration.
It is 1744, in Edinburgh, and the gentlemen golfers of Leith draw up the first official rules of golf.
A pilgrimage a hundred years and more
The historical importance of the Gentlemen Golfers of Leith is undeniable, especially since the group would remain a staple in later drafts of the game’s rulebook. Nonetheless, our gentlemen-becoming in the process The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers-found themselves wandering for years from one golf course to another.
At first, the small group continues to play on Leith’s links without giving themselves too much trouble. In 1768 they built a beautiful golf house not far from the courses. Gradually, however, the game begins to get a little too successful: by 1830, Leith’s links are overcrowded, almost impassable.
Some company members move to the Musselburgh links along the coast; they also use the area for horse racing. It matters little, as they continue to be in the clubhouse in Leith, their staple. Until 1833, at least. Management of membership dues turns out to be a little too “creative,” forcing the association to sell its headquarters. Company members must leave their irons under the grandstands of the host racetrack.
Finally, in 1868TheHonourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers succeeded in rebuilding the clubhouse, this time in Musselburgh. To play they are found in the city links. Them and other golf clubs in the area.
The situation is beginning to be untenable.
Muirfield, the home of “The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers”
We do not know whether Muirfield is one of the most beautiful golf courses in the world. It was definitely one of the most desired and sightiest.
In 1891, the company bought its own private space: no more disappearing irons, stolen by who-knows-who; no more fighting over overcrowded links; no more teasing of other clubs. Finally, The Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers will have its own golf course. Golf course that for the time being is the track of a racetrack, some malicious people point out.
Tom Morris designs the new golf course, and after nearly a century and a half of pilgrimage, our gentlemen have a place to play. There’s more: the field can also host The Open Championship, a tournament that is now beginning to gain traction. Of course, there is no shortage of criticism, but little harm: after each criticism, gentleman golfers improve their beloved and sighed golf course.
Over the years, Muirfield has grown and changed many times. The result is a golf course peculiar to our standards, being composed of two concentric rings of nine holes. The outer ring goes clockwise, the inner ring counterclockwise. This way, the wind hits you from all directions as you go from hole to hole admiring the breathtaking and sometimes somewhat surreal landscape. Just like the history of the place.