Celebrating four and a half centuries of golf at the Links

PLANS are in hand to celebrate the 450th anniversary of Montrose links, Montrose Together has been told.

Councillor David May said that the organisation of next year’s milestone is already under way but details are being kept under wraps at the moment.

The Medal Course is the fifth oldest in the world and although at one time it had an almost entirely natural layout dictated by little more than the forces of nature, which at one time featured 25 holes, it can boast features laid down by Old Tom Morris.

Morris was one of the pioneers of the original game and is widely recognised as “the father of modern greenkeeping”.

Mr May, who is a member of the 450th anniversary group, said there are hopes that an exhibition will be mounted in Montrose Museum, perhaps to coincide with the 400th anniversary of James Graham, 1st Marquis of Montrose.

Reputedly born at Castlestead, now the Job Centre, in Castle Place, Graham was a nobleman and soldier who initially joined the Covenanters in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, but subsequently supported King Charles I as the English Civil War developed.

From 1644 to 1646, and again in 1650 he fought a civil war in Scotland on behalf of the King.

In addition to his military activities, Montrose was also known to be a keen golfer and played both over the Montrose course and the St Andrews links course while he attended the town’s university.

Mr May said: “We’ve done a fair bit of work in planning this year of celebration. Various tournaments will be played in the course of the year and there will be a programme of celebrations and we’ve been in touch with Montrose Museum to organise an exhibition, possibly linking in with the Marquis of Montrose.

“There’s also the possibility of an event with 45 Commando. We met with a representative from the unit recently but they’re now on deployment and we will discuss it further when they come back.

“We just felt we wanted to celebrate the excellent work they have been doing abroad on our behalf.”

Mr May said the celebrations are just part of wider plans to try to promote the town and course to the golfing public.

The latest addition is blue tees, launched at the weekend, which Mr May said were aimed at higher handicap golfers.

He said: “Most people seem to think they are for women golfers but the blue tees will be in between the yellow and red that are there already and it’s part of a plan to make the course more accessible for higher handicap and senior golfers.

“We want to encourage more parties to come here, particularly corporate groups. The more people who come to Montrose the more people there will be spending money in Montrose.

“We’re also doing a lot of work improving the links website and probably after the summer there will be a new system of online booking. Very few courses in Angus do that and I think it will be of benefit.”