All posts by Alan McDonald

The Hunters of Midlothian

Norman Richardson identifies a family that helped spread golf on three continents.

Although St Andrews is known as the Home of Golf, the commons of Bruntsfield and Leith at Edinburgh , have a claim to being the cradle of organised golf. Some of the earliest references to club-makers in the 1600s and 1700s were from Bruntsfield and Leith: William Mayne, Thomas Comb, and the Dickson, Clephan and Cossar families. Club-making at this time was a part-time occupation. They shared these duties with such trades as bow-making, joinery and cabinet-making. In 1770 in Edinburgh, James McEwan, a joiner by trade, established the McEwan club-making business – a business that existed for four generations until 1897. When the Bruntsfield and Leith Golf Societies relocated to Musselburgh, the McEwans followed soon after in 1847, leaving opportunities for new clubmakers at Bruntsfield.

The descendants of William Hunter and his wife Janet are one of the unheralded families of club makers, ball makers, professionals and course designers, whose influence extends to the early days of golf in England, Wales, Australia, New Zealand and the USA. Not a lot is known of the Hunter family and little appears in golf reference books.

William Hunter, b.1828
21 Leven St
21 Leven St.

William Hunter was born in Newton, Edinburgh in 1828. He was listed in the 1851 census as a cabinetmaker and   journeyman, married to Janet, living at Randolph Place Lane, Edinburgh. At the time of the 1861 census, William Sr. is listed as master cabinetmaker employing three men, and living at 21 Leven St, about 150 yards from the Bruntsfield Links and from the Golf Tavern, used as one of the city golf club houses until the 1890s.

By 1871, William had commenced training his sons, and by 1881 all three of them, Ramsey, Henry and William were all working as joiners for the family business, which was still operating from Leven St.

Ramsey Hunter (1852-1909)

Ramsey Hunter was born in 1852 at Edinburgh, and had his early training as a carpenter and joiner. His introduction to golf was at Bruntsfield Links and in 1887 he was recruited by Dr W Laidlaw Purves (Edinburgh-born and another former Bruntsfield golfer) as greenkeeper, club-maker and caddies superintendent for the new golf links at Sandwich, Kent (later to become Royal St George’s). He laid out the course with Laidlaw Purves and in addition to club-making, Ramsey also produced guttie balls named The Hunter Special.

In 1891, he had his brother William working as a clubmaker at Sandwich and had, as an apprentice, Albert J Milliner, who was to become the first professional at The Australian GC, Queens Park, Waverley, in 1897. Milliner soon left for Dunedin, New Zealand, becoming one of that country’s earliest professionals. In 1902, Ramsey, sacked by Sandwich GC for ‘being worse for drink’, became professional at Shooters Hill, GC London. In 1892 Ramsey designed the first nine holes at Deal GC, Kent; in 1895 he designed the course at Royal Porthcawl GC in Wales; and he laid out the first nine holes at Hythe GC in Kent. In 1909, he advised improvements for St Augustine GC in Kent and also for Mid-Kent G C, Gravesend, the latter with the help of Willie Park Jr. Horace Hutchinson and Bernard Darwin acclaimed Ramsey for his role as greenkeeper at Royal St Georges. He joined the British PGA in 1902. Ramsey died in 1909, whilst professional at Mid Kent GC, Gravesend.

William Hunter, b.1858

William Hunter was born in Edinburgh in 1858 and was apprenticed to his father. By the time of the 1881 census he was working as a joiner and was married to Ellen, with whom he had sons William (born 1878) and James (born 1880). Ten years later the census lists him as living in Sandwich, Kent with his son William and working as a club-maker for his brother Ramsey. His two sons would become golf professionals.

Henry Hunter (1860-1935)
Harry Hunter
Harry Hunter

Henry (Harry) Hunter was born in 1860 in Edinburgh and was working as a joiner at the time of the 1881 census. He was a member of the Bruntsfield & Allied GC (also known as the ‘Club-makers Golf Club’) in the 1880s, playing in team challenge matches against other Edinburgh clubs. In 1887 Harry (left – at Cinque Ports GC c.1897) travelled with Ramsey to join the workforce laying out the    Sandwich links, and he became an assistant to Ramsey once the course was finished. Harry commenced work as a club-maker/professional at Ashdown Forest GC in Kent in 1890. By 1892 he was employed at Cinque Ports GC, Deal, Kent where he was professional, club-maker, greenkeeper and caddy master. He began by constructing the first nine holes then designed and built the second nine. Harry was also a guttie ball-maker – the Cinque Ports ball – and was to remain at Deal for 43 years. Harry also designed and constructed the course for Sittingbourne and Milton Regis GC between 1929 and 1931. Two of his sons, two of his grandsons and a great grandson would later become golf professionals. Harry died in July, 1935 aged 75.

William Hunter b.1878

William (Willie) Hunter was born 1878 in Perth, Scotland was the son of William (b.1858) and Ellen Hunter. Willie was apprenticed to his uncle Ramsey at Sandwich. He commenced professional duties at the Glamorganshire GC, Wales in 1896, laying out the second nine holes of their course in 1897. Willie spent the summer season at Shelter Island GC, New York in 1897 and North East Harbour, Maine in 1898. A Mr Martin of James Martin and Co (a store in Sydney, Australia, importing and selling golf clubs, balls and bags) acted as a go-between for The Australian GC and Ramsey Hunter. As a result, Willie was appointed professional for The Australian GC, at Botany, arriving by the Orotava in June, 1899. He was appointed ahead of WD More, who had applied for the professional’s position from Johannesburg, South Africa, and who later became professional at Royal Melbourne Golf Club over the period 1900–01.

Scott & Hunter 1901

Willie was described by the golf columnist, Foozler in the Sydney Mail of May 6, 1899, as being
‘young and a player with an easy style much like that of the Bondi (Royal Sydney GC) Professional, James Scott’. (Scott was a brother of AH Scott, the well-known professional and clubmaker from Elie, Fife.) In July 1900 Willie played in the first professional match in New South Wales against James Scott, over 72 holes (36 at Botany and 36 at Bondi) running out as 9/8 winner. He impressed spectators with his approach play and putting, and won fourteen pounds stake money. At the completion of the match, Willie (pictured here on the right) and his fellow-Scot James Scott issued a challenge to the two Victorian professionals, Richard Taylor (Surrey Hills GC) and More of Royal Melbourne, both Hoylake men, to a match, which was declined.

Willie lowered the course record at the Botany Links on four occasions, his lowest being a 74 (with guttie balls) after the course had been extended. These links at the time were acknowledged as the longest and toughest links in the colonies. Willie and James Scott jointly designed and laid out the first nine-hole course for Lindfield GC (now Killara GC) in December 1900.

Willie left The Australian in 1901, went back to the USA to Shelter Island GC, New York and competed in the US Opens of 1901 and 1902, before being appointed professional at Richmond GC in Surrey in 1903. At Richmond in 1906, Willie played in probably his strangest challenge match, competing against Richmond GC member and eccentric, Sir Ralph Payne-Gallwey. Payne-Gallwey was an expert on golf balls, ballistics, crossbows and other weapons. In a match similar to one played by Tommy Morris some 30 years earlier, Willie used his normal set of golf clubs while Sir Ralph used an antique Turkish bow and arrow. Taking turns, Willie hit the ball and Sir Ralph fired his arrow towards the holes. Willie won the match, 71 to 73.

Willie left Richmond GC in 1915, and travelled with Wilfred Reid to the USA. In Golf Illustrated, 1915, Bernard Darwin wrote:

“I see you are taking two very good professionals from us, Wilfred Reid, who goes to the Seaview Golf Club and Willie Hunter to a St Louis Club. … Hunter is somewhat older than Reid having been born in 1878 as compared with 1884, is likewise an international player having represented Scotland in four matches. … He has played some wonderful rounds and his game is essentially a graceful and accomplished one. “

Willie was appointed professional at St Louis, CC, Missouri and was Professional at Onwentsia, CC, Lake Forest Illinois from 1919. In 1921 at Onwentsia, CC, Willie and his assistant Willie Marshall, played an exhibition match against the Australian pair Joe Kirkwood and J Victor East, who were touring the US. The match was tied. The Chicago Daily Tribune reported on September 5th:

“Excellent putting from Hunter and terrific driving by Kirkwood were the features of the match. Hunter won the second hole by sinking a long putt. Marshall made it 2 up at the Sixth. At the Eighth, or Boomerang hole, Kirkwood lofted high over the trees for 260 yards and won with a birdie 3. He squared the match at the Eleventh. A 40ft putt by Hunter at the Sixteenth gave a short-lived advantage, as Kirkwood evened the count at the Seventeenth with a fine drive and a good approach. As a bit of history Hunter played the first professional match in Sydney,  Australia 21 years prior against Jim Scott, and East was his caddy that day.”

Individual scores were Kirkwood 71, Hunter 72, Marshall 79 and East 80. Willie was the inaugural President of the Missouri PGA and spent two terms as president of the Illinois PGA. He finished as Professional at Onwentsia in 1930, but continued as Greenkeeper. Willie was a regular entrant in The Open, the US Open and the PGA Championship, his best finish being twelfth in the Open at Muirfield in 1906. East later went on to make clubs for Bobby Jones and design clubs for both Spalding and Wilson.

James Stevenson Hunter (1889-1926)

James Stevenson Hunter was born in 1880 at Newington, Edinburgh, the second son of William. He learnt clubmaking and greenkeeping at Sandwich with his Uncle Ramsey before being appointed professional at New Brighton in 1897. In mid-1899 James travelled with his brother Willie hoping to secure a position in Australia. He attained several short-term teaching appointments at Brisbane GC, Chelmer, Queensland in 1899. Whilst there, he also supervised the laying out of the tee grounds and gave instructions for maintenance of the course. James also travelled to Townsville, Bundaberg and other North Queensland courses to fulfil coaching engagements. Being the only professional in Queensland, he was much in demand. The Queenslander newspaper in April 28, 1900 described the tuition:

‘Hunter is fortunate in combining, with a clear and convincing method, a courteous patient manner, which will help him get some improvement out of the dullest pupil. He is most popular. I see his elder brother, who came out under engagement to a Sydney club is appreciated there.’

James Hunter 1904 at Australian Open, 1904.

Impressed by his coaching, Brisbane had hoped to offer James a full-time position, however, it was Hobart     GC at Newlands, Tasmania that secured his services in 1901. James Hunter became Tasmania’s first golf professional. While he was there, James taught champion amateur golfing brothers Clyde and Bruce Pearce. Royal Melbourne GC, Victoria approached James in 1902 following the death of their professional, WD More. He took up the position there and remained until 1903, resigning when Royal Melbourne refused his request for two months leave of absence. He was working for James Martin and Co in 1904 and  competed in the first Australian Open that year.

James next turns up in the 1911 UK census working as a club-maker for brother Willie at Richmond GC, Surrey. After serving in the Great War with a Scottish Infantry Regiment, James followed his brother to Illinois to be assistant to Willie at Onwentsia GC in 1919, before becoming professional at the Monroe Country Club during the summer months and conducting winter golf schools with Willie at a department store in Chicago. James died suddenly in his hotel room in March 1926 while teaching at the winter school. He left a wife and three sons.

William Irvine McGregor Hunter (1892-1968)

William Irvine McGregor Hunter was born in 1892 at Forest Row, Sussex, the son of Harry Hunter. Wee Willie, as he was known, learnt his golf at Deal, Kent, where his father was the professional. He enlisted in the Royal Engineers and served in France in the First World War. Willie departed from the usual Hunter profession of golf, instead working as a telegraph operator for the Post Office. He forged a successful amateur career whilst a member of Walmer and Kingsdown GC, Kent. Willie played in the 1920 Open Championship at Deal and finished top Amateur, in 26th overall place, to win the Silver Medal. In 1921, he won the Amateur Championships at Hoylake, defeating home club member, Alan J Graham, 12 and 11 in the final, a record at the time. Grantland Rice, writing in the American Golfer, described Willie as:

“… a lithe a slender Scot who has a firm, compact style, hits the ball crisply and yet only takes about a three-quarter swing. He is a very good putter indeed and handles an iron in the firm professional manner. He has the same tawny-coloured hair that Jock Hutchison wears but lacks Jock’s nervous eagerness. He is without question a very good player, he is a trifle fast on the backswing, but there is no jerky motion attached and keeps the ball straight on the pin.”

Wee Willie Hunter 1921


Willie travelled to the US with the 1921 Scottish Amateur Champion, Tommy Armour, to compete in the US Amateur Championship at St Louis. On arrival, he was described in the August 30th edition of the New York Times, as ‘sandy-headed, a little below average height and weight but with a “springiness” in his step that denotes the athlete’. Willie reached the semi-finals, defeating Bobby Jones 2/1 in a memorable match along the way. The Atlanta youth was 2 up after eighteen; in the afternoon Hunter had a lion heart however, winning the Third, Ninth and Fourteenth before taking the lead at the Fifteenth for the first time in the match.

In 1922 Willie reached the semi finals of the British Amateur and won the Lord Brassey Challenge Cup at Deal. If the repetition of the name Willie is confusing throughout this article, readers will understand how in 1922, when Willie returned to the US, he was declared by the USGA to be ineligible to compete in the US Amateur Championship one month before it was to be conducted in Brookline Massachusetts. The confusion came about from his cousin Willie Hunter, the Onwentsia Professional, entering the US PGA Championships, the following week. However, after clarification, Willie Irvine Hunter was reinstated in the US Amateur. Willie did turn professional in 1923 and won numerous titles in the USA, including the Californian Open in 1926 and 1927.

He served at Brentwood GC, Montebello Park GC, California CC and Fox Hills GC before settling at the Riviera CC in 1936. It was at Riviera that Willie rubbed shoulders with movie stars, moguls and millionaires. He saw the filming of Pat and Mike, Follow the Sun and The Caddy on the Riviera Course. It was also here that his Scottish bluntness saw him lose his richest, most obsessive client, Howard Hughes. A three handicapper, had been having lessons every day for three months when Hughes asked Willie if he could win the US Amateur. Willie replied: ‘qualify maybe, win, definitely not!’ On hearing this Hughes left the course, never to play golf again.

In 1932 torrential rain sent a six-foot wall of water through the Riviera golf course, destroying the seventh to thirteenth holes, which Willie rebuilt. He was also responsible for preparing the Riviera course to meet USGA specifications to host the 1948 US Open. He was criticised for making the course too hard; however Ben Hogan tamed the course to win his first US Open. Willie’s two sons became golf professionals. In the late ‘40s and ‘50s Willie played many tournaments with either one or both of his sons. In 1949 he returned to England for the first time in eighteen years to play in The Open, to be played at Royal Cinque Ports at Deal – the course where he first learnt to play. Unfortunately the sea wall broke, inundating and ruining the course; The Open was moved to Royal St George’s.

Willie Hunter circa 1960s.

In the 1952 Open at Lytham and St Annes, as a 57-year-old, Willie shot 74, 83 finishing 69th. As a 65-year old             Willie shot his age in 1957 on the Riviera course. In 1964, aged 72, after 28 years at Riviera, Wee Willie announced his retirement. The highlights of his career included winning the 1921 British Amateur, winning the Southern Californian Open six times, the Southern Californian PGA Match Play once and twice coming runner-up in the LA Open. His best finish in a major was eighth in the US Open in 1926, at Scioto CC, Ohio. He served as President of the Southern Californian PGA thirteen times. He also wrote the instructional book Easy Way to Winning Golf. Willie died in 1968, aged 76 at Palm Springs.

Ramsey Hunter b.1894

Ramsey Hunter was born in Deal, Kent in 1894 – son of Harry Hunter, professional at Royal Cinque Ports GC. At the time of the 1911 census, seventeen-year-old Ramsey was listed as assistant to his father and as a club-maker. In 1914 he followed his cousin Willie Hunter to the USA and worked as assistant to Jim Barnes at Whitemarsh Valley GC and then at Rivercrest CC, Texas in 1917. He served in the Royal Canadian Flying Corps during the Great War.

On being discharged in 1919, Ramsey became assistant to Jock Hutchinson at Glenview GC in Chicago. In 1920 he was professional at Fort Wayne CC, Indiana, where a young Gene Sarazen was Ramsey’s assistant. His next move in 1921 was to Shannon CC at Pittsburgh. While at Shannon, Ramsey had a visit from his brother Willie, then current British Amateur Champion. The two brothers paired in an exhibition match against Shannon Professional Eddie Towns and Richard C Long, President of the Western Pennsylvania Golf Association.

In the same year he moved to New Castle, Pasadena, as assistant pro, and then on to the Westchester-Biltmore CC in 1923. He followed this by becoming professional at Linwood GC in 1925. In 1930 Ramsey took over duties at Whitter GC, California, before opening a golf shop in Los Angeles in 1944. Ramsey played in the 1917 National Open Golf Tournament, the 1921 US Open and Western Open, and the 1925 US Open. Ramsey also played in a four-ball team tournament in 1921 that pitched home-bred against foreign-born professionals. Ramsey and Carnoustie-born Willie Ogg won their match. The event was one by the home- bred professionals 4 matches to 2.

William Hunter (b. 1924)

William Hunter Jr was born in California in 1924, son of William Irvine Hunter and his wife Josephine, née Koch. After the 1929 LA Open the Los Angeles Times reported:

“Willie Hunter Jr, approximately four years of age, provided the gallery around the scoreboard with a fine exhibition of stance and driving. The Montebello Park pro’s infant son has a driver all his own and knows how to use it”.

After serving in the US Army in the South Pacific during the Second World War, he attended UCLA and played local amateur events. Willie Jr played in the US Amateur in 1947 along with his brother. In 1948, the ‘husky 24-year-old’ turned professional and served as his father’s assistant at the Riviera, CC. He was a regular on the US PGA tour in the late 1940s and 50s and still knew how to use his driver.

At the 1950 LA Open, the tournament committee measured all week the drives on the 575 yd Seventeenth, Willie Jr averaged 262 yards and was a close second to the longest hitter Sam Snead who averaged 265 yards. He was assistant professional to his brother at Riviera, after his father’s retirement in 1964. He played in the qualifying rounds for the 1962 Open at Troon, finishing two over the qualifying mark.

Harry McGregor Hunter (b.1929)

Harry McGregor Hunter, known to his friends and family as Mac, was born in California in 1929, the son of Willie Irvine Hunter and his wife Josephine. Mac was a talented amateur, winning the Riviera GC Championship at the age of fourteen in 1943, and again in 1947 and 1949. In 1946 Mac became the US National Junior Champion beating a seventeen-year-old Arnold Palmer in the finals by 6/5.

In 1949 Mac won the Mexican Amateur and the Californian State Amateur Championships, defeating Gene Littler, in a nail-biter, all square after 36 holes. On the first play-off hole Mac caught a bunker with his approach shot and Littler was 40ft from the hole. Mac played first holing his bunker shot. Littler then halved the hole by chipping in. Mac won at the 39th hole.

Mac Hunter
Mac Hunter

In 1950 Mac enlisted in the US Marines then in 1952 he relinquished his amateur status to become Riviera GC’s playing professional. Mac played US PGA tour events including championships, and in US Opens and The Open, his best finish was tied nineteenth in the 1959 Open at Winged Foot GC. Mac became Riviera GC’s professional in 1964 on his father Willie’s retirement – a position he held until 1973, when he resigned to become Director of Marketing for Aldila Golf Shaft Company.

He soon left this position to set up Mac Hunter Golf Inc, designing and making clubs along traditional lines. His Auld Classic Irons retro-looking blades, putters with hickory shafts that were named after forbears, one a bullseye style putter called Auld Jessie – the name of his Aunt and great Aunt. His shaft labels had the slogan, ’Mac Hunter Company – a family tradition since 1887’, the date his Great Uncle Ramsey and his grandfather Harry left Edinburgh for Sandwich.

Due to a setback with his health and poor sales, Mac sold the company and returned to duties as a head professional. In the 1980s Mac was Director of Golf at the Princeville Makai Golf Course in Hawaii. As a golf course architect, Mac designed the Bridger Creek Golf course in Montana in the early 1990s. Mac won the Southern California PGA title in 1967, the same event his father had won in 1939 and 1942. In 1973 he wrote an instructional book: Golf for Beginners.

McGregor Hunter Jr, (b.1956)

McGregor ‘Mac’ Hunter Jr was born at Pacific Palisades, California in 1956, son of Mac Hunter Snr, professional of Riviera GC and his wife Doris. Mac Jr followed in his father’s footsteps as a talented young amateur. 1972 was a stellar year for sixteen-year old Mac Jr. He won the Californian State Amateur Championship at Pebble Beach GC, where he squandered a 5-up lead but hit three perfect shots on the final hole to beat Bob Roos, 2 up and became the youngest-ever winner of a title that had been won by his father in 1949. A few weeks later he won the Riviera CC Championship and soon after he equalled the Riviera course record with a 66 from the back tees.

He then won the Southern California Amateur Title, also won by his grandfather Willie Irvine Hunter in 1923. Mac Jr turned pro in 1973 and won his US PGA tour card at qualifying school in 1977.

Further investigation needs to be done on the family and there is an intriguing possibility of a link to the famous Hunter family of Prestwick, at this stage unconfirmed. Two references hint at this: one, an 1898 article in an American magazine, Outings Monthly, describing Shelter Island professional Willie Hunter as ‘a newly-arrived scion of the Hunters of Prestwick’. And in the Australian newspaper in 1902, on James’ appointment as the Royal Melbourne professional:

‘his name is Hunter and he is the brother of the late professional of The Australian Club, Botany, who went to America. His uncle has been keeper for many years of the celebrated green at Prestwick in Ayrshire. Hunter therefore comes of a good family for golf.’

The Hunters were a close-knit family, looking after one another, who rode the wave in the growth of golf from the 1880s to the 1920s. Importantly, William, (b.1828) was a master cabinetmaker, whose skills were passed on to his sons ready to be adapted to clubmaking. The location of his business a short stroll from Bruntsfield Links, where they were exposed to golf, was significant. William’s grandsons were good ambassadors for the game, taking playing, greenkeeping and clubmaking skills to the New World. On the course, the Hunters have played alongside the Who’s Who of the sport; they were supporters of their professional associations and participated in the transition of old-time professional/greenkeeper/clubmaker, to full-time playing professional on a PGA tour.

(This article first appeared in the June 2010 issue of ‘Through the Green’, the journal of the British Golf Collectors Society, and is reproduced with the kind permission of the Society, and the author).

Peter Corsar Anderson

A Developer of Golf in Australia.
Barry Leithhead’s collation of information on Anderson’s contribution to the history of Australian golf.

GOLF IN AUSTRALIA was founded by people from ‘the old country’ who brought it here, with ancient implements and the desire to find suitable ground on which to play. That foundation was developed by others who followed – men like Peter Corsar Anderson.

Peter Anderson had two passions in his long life – education and golf. He was already an accomplished Scot when at age 25 he arrived in Australia in 1896, having graduated from the old St Andrews University with MA and post-graduate studies in Divinity. Anderson had also graduated from the Old Course at PCAnderson1

St Andrews, where he played often and well, holding for half a season the course record of 80, which was four under bogey. His golf was so good that in 1893 when only 22, he won the British Amateur Championship at Prestwick, beating JE Laidlay in the final. However, he was in poor health with pleurisy and hoped for a better climate in Australia. Arriving in Albany, then the major port in Western Australia, he met his elder brother Mark who was a shipping agent there and also a fine golfer.

Albany is some 360kms south from Perth, where the Antarctic wind first assaults the golf course. Mark suggested Peter settle in Melbourne, where he had been Champion of the Melbourne Golf Club in 1893. Peter did not delay and within a short time had taken up a tutoring position with a well-to-do farming family at Mansfield, 90kms north east of Melbourne. Six months later he was appointed a master at Geelong Grammar School (GGS) and became a member of Geelong Golf Club (GGC).

If his golfing results are an indicator, Peter regained his health quickly. Within a year he had set the course record of 79 for GGC and he reduced it to 76 in 1898 and 75 in 1899, a record that stood until 1904 when his brother Mark reduced it by a single stroke. Peter won the first Championship held at GGC in 1898 and was Champion for six successive years until 19031. Not surprisingly, Geelong won the Victorian State Pennants Championship from 1899-1901 and tied with Royal Melbourne GC in 1902. It is reported that in 1904 Peter Anderson won a pennant match 16 up! The Riversdale Cup was an important event and he won that in 1898-9 and 1902. Mark had won that Cup in 1896, its first year.

Consider the clubs Peter played with, bought from Tom Morris, paying 2/- for a head and 1/6 for a hickory shaft from America. His most expensive club was a brassie which cost 5/6. He won the Amateur Championship of 1893 at Prestwick with six clubs: a brassie, a mid-iron, a cleek (for long approaches), a mashie, a niblick, and a wooden putter he also used for the short game. As a reserve, he had a driver, which he did not use. At Geelong GC is it said he used only four clubs; driver, cleek, mashie and putter and rarely carried a bag for his clubs.

PC Anderson was reported to be one of those who selected the new site for the Royal Melbourne Course when that club’s old links were becoming hemmed in by building projects2. He is also credited with laying out the Barwon Heads course at Geelong although the course did not open until 1907, well after he had gone to Perth.3

A Geelong Grammar student recalls:

PC Anderson (‘Andie’) joined the school direct from a world golf championship at St Andrews4 and was naturally an idol in the eyes of the sports loving community. His very broad northern accent captivated us and he joined the boys (chiefly juniors) on their excursions into the bush then surrounding parts of Geelong. Knowing nothing whatever of Australia and its bush life, he welcomed these days and in them learned something of the conditions of his adopted country.5

The GGS Quarterly reports:

Mr Anderson has taken his golf clubs down to the river on several occasions, and has kindly given some of the fellows some hints on how to use them, in the race-course paddock. One of the fellows did not seem to be very enamoured of the game, describing it as ‘the most dangerous thing since Waterloo’. He, of course, spoke from sad experience.6

PC Anderson developed substantially as an educator in Geelong. He was a Master at the GGS senior school from 1896-99 and in charge of the Preparatory School from 1899-1900. In 1899 Anderson married Agnes Henrietta Macartney, the sister of the student he tutored at Mansfield and granddaughter of the Anglican Dean of Melbourne who in 1855 was one of the founders of Geelong Grammar School. Peter and Agnes became parents to six sons and seven daughters. He left GGS in 1900 to set up his own school, St Salvator’s, also in Geelong.7

Peter might not have contested the 1904 Geelong GC championship, having moved to Perth, and it was won by his brother Mark – the first of his three championships at Geelong (also 1907 and 1912). He was made a life member of GGC in 1917. Mark also won the Royal Melbourne Championship five times, the first time in 1893 (Easter – the event was played twice a year in 1893 and 1894) and then in 1894 (twice), 1895 and 18968. There’s a nice quote in the RMGC history from RAA Balfour-Melville, who won an Australian Amateur title but could never beat him in a club event – ML Anderson always seemed to sink a long putt on the 18th!! Mark was runner-up in the 1905 Australian Amateur Championship at Royal Melbourne. In the twelve years between 1903 and 1914, Royal Melbourne won the State Pennant Championship nine times.

In 1904, PC Anderson became Headmaster at Scotch College Perth, Western Australia, where the first four years must have been an all-absorbing challenge for Anderson, the educator. He was intent on developing the learning of students despite the school’s being in such a bad state on his arrival that the governors were thinking of closing it down9.

The school was sited in grossly inadequate temporary premises and was moved to a new site at Swanbourne, seven miles (10 km) west of Perth, where a benefactor offered land. Anderson at once insisted that, unlike his predecessor, he should participate in council meetings, and soon proved himself a vigorous organizer capable of ensuring the success of the move.10

Anderson brought to Scotch College a model of ‘godliness and manliness’, for he was a ‘typical product of a Scottish Presbyterian background’, tall at 6’4’’, a strong disciplinarian whose main interest was in sport, and, although not an educational innovator, he was a ‘reliable’ leader. The notion of ‘godliness and PCAnderson2

manliness’ is at the heart of late nineteenth-century ‘muscular Christianity’, a term coined in response to the work of Charles Kingsley, associated with magazines like the Boys’ Own Paper and a host of popular books like Tom Brown’s Schooldays and Coral Island, and in recent years portrayed in films like Chariots of Fire.11

In 1908 we hear a mention of Anderson in relation to golf and then it is where no course or club exists. Scotch College is within sound of the ocean and Anderson and others thought vacant land on the water’s edge might be the making of a golf course:

Westward towards the coastal sand dunes, a rough gravel track struggled up the hill from Cottesloe Railway Station and lost itself in the scrub at Broome Street. It was early June 1908, and the group of men who trudged up the naturally vegetated hill, battled against a driving westerly wind to the coastline. Among them were FD North, one of the earliest residents of Cottesloe, J M Drummond, T Robertson and PC Anderson of Scotch College. Their common interests were a desire to play golf and to construct their own links. One, Anderson, thought wistfully of his native Scottish links, of his succession of triumphs that had carried him to the very pinnacle of golf as British Amateur Champion. What a contrast between Scotland and this almost inhospitable Australian coastline. Yet, beneath the drab scrub and sandhills of Cottesloe, Anderson could see the possibilities of first-class greens, tees and fairways. It was worth a try. A few nights later, on the 11th of June 1908, before a log fire in the local Albion Hotel Commercial Room, sixteen men met and agreed to form the Cottesloe Golf Club12 13.

This was the origin of the Cottesloe Golf Club in 1908 and Anderson, along with NC Fowlie designed the course aptly named and still known as ‘Sea View’. The opening of the nine-hole course by the State Governor on 11th September 1909 was only fifteen months after the initial committee meeting. A year or so before, Anderson laid out the first nine holes of the Royal Fremantle course, a few miles south from Perth.

In the first two years Anderson won major events at the Sea View course, was appointed Captain in 1912 and one of the Club’s delegates to the Western Australian Golf Association in 1913. Fowlie set the initial course record, bettered by Anderson in 1913 (77) and again in 1914 (75). Fowlie was State Amateur Champion in 1914. Anderson won the Club Championship twice (1917, 1919) when his handicap was +4 and his age almost 50.

It is recounted that two Scotch College students, RD Forbes and KA Barker were invited by their illustrious headmaster to play a round of golf with him. Feeling very pleased with themselves after the completion of their game, one of the students on returning to the Clubhouse said ‘Sir, would you care for a drink?’ Anderson said, ‘Yes young man, I should like a sherry thank you’, whereupon the student dug deep into his pocket and produced a ten-shilling note PCAnderson3

which he laid on the counter. The change however, was picked up and pocketed by Anderson, a costly but subtle reprimand for the young players. Forbes would later win the Club Championship ten times between 1921 and 193814.

Another story told of PC Anderson arose from the activities of a few boys from Scotch who developed a practice of trespassing on the course on Saturday mornings. When the chairman of Greens Committee asked ‘the Boss’ to exercise more control over his pupils, he received the reply: ‘I look after the little beggars five days a week – someone else can worry about them in the weekend’.

PC Anderson won the last of his four Club trophy events in 1928 at the age of 57. He was a committee member from the Club’s founding in 1908 until 1918 – in 1915 he was appointed Vice President, a position he held for 40 years until his death in 1955. He was appointed the Club’s first life member in 193615. Cottesloe GC opened a new course at Swanbourne in 1931, near Scotch College, on seaside dunes/links land with few trees, five kilometres from Sea View. Anderson appears to have played no official part in the move, although the CGC History records that he ‘continued to make a valuable contribution to the establishment of the present course’. His name does not appear in any of the records of the committee who created that course. Perhaps the designers Rees and Stevenson consulted him informally, perhaps even regularly. Given their inexperience in golf course design, it would seem feasible for them to consult the club’s ’grand old man‘ who had designed a number of well known courses. However, the original CGC Swanbourne course would appear to have been largely or even solely the creation of WA Rees and TD Stevenson.16

There was evident dissatisfaction with this original design because the club engaged Alex Russell only a few years later (1934), to redesign the course completely. Russell’s routing, totally different from the original, embodied the then traditional single loop of eighteen holes – nine holes out and nine holes back, like so many famous courses, such as St Andrews. This Russell routing has largely survived today and surely it would have been more to Anderson’s liking. The Sea View course is still in play, bare of trees, on ground that slopes down to the sea.

PC Anderson’s brother, Mark returned to Albany, Western Australia, around 1913. He stayed there, apparently, for the remainder of his life, was Albany Golf Club President in 1922-23 and father of Bill and Jean who were dominant Albany golfers and golf club administrators of the next generation. It is not known from club records whether Mark won any Albany Club Championships (which would seem likely) but he quite obviously became the ’grand old man‘ of the Albany GC. Presumably the Anderson brotherhood started the long close relationship between the Albany and Cottesloe golf clubs which, if not as strong today as once it was, still involves annual club visits.

The extension of Albany GC from nine to eighteen holes (planned in the ‘30s but executed in the ‘50s), was apparently designed by another Cottesloe Anderson – David, CGC’s professional in the 1920s. The Albany GC history records that Mark was an eccentric soul who preferred to putt with a five iron. Tim Catling also tells the following story about his father, Tom, who played with Mark Anderson, when Tom was about fifteen:

Old Mr Anderson was a dour Scot, like my father’s father, given to playing golf in silence. Mr Anderson had two remarkable shots from very difficult lies, and each time Dad asked him how he did it and each time Mark explained, and apart from that did not speak at all. At the end of the round Dad thanked Mr Anderson very much and the reply was ‘that’s all right, you’re a nice lad but you talk too much!’ .

After WWI, PC Anderson seems to have been largely absent from the formal CGC administration. However, he continued to play regularly and was a delegate to the WAGA. It is likely that his perpetual vice-presidency was a largely ceremonial father figure role, a continuation of the ’grand old man‘, the legendary British Amateur Champion of long ago. As such, he gave the CGC a much increased status and aura of credibility. Club members really looked up to him with awe and respect as a figure of considerable stature. Of course, this was assisted by so many of his Scotch College pupils and masters becoming members of the club. There is a huge Scotch old boy contribution to the club to this day. CGC’s History 1893-1983 was compiled by Geoff Newman, a Scotch pupil who later taught under PC Anderson and eventually became the school’s Deputy Headmaster.

Anderson was headmaster of Scotch for 41 years, retiring in 1945. During this period annual enrolments rose from 59 to 410; more than 3,000 boys passed through Scotch in his time. The first decade of his regime was marked by the provision of science laboratories, a cadet corps, sports grounds and a boatshed. By 1914 Scotch was established as one of the four leading independent boys’ schools in Western Australia, and for the next 30 years Anderson was doyen among the Protestant headmasters, setting an educational model whose influence extended well beyond his own college. He was a masterful administrator, careful in times of financial stringency but insistent on bold planning whenever opportunity permitted. Impressively built and inclined to be set in his opinions, he earned the nickname ‘Boss’, but was respected for his scrupulous fair-mindedness and capacity for hard work. Legends generated around him, such as the yarn that he once caned the entire school in an attempt to put down smoking. He was awarded the CBE in 194717.


Peter Anderson’s great passions for education and golf were played out in three distant arenas – St Andrews in Scotland, and Geelong and Perth in east- and west Australia. Not only was Peter Anderson’s passion for each at a high level but his persistence and determination through difficult times of world wars and the Great Depression were a significant testimony to his character, as was the quality of his golf. The history of golf in Australia is both how the golf was transplanted to Australia and the development of golf once there. Peter Anderson stands tall in both these dimensions of our history. The heritage of golf he brought to Australia, in how he played the game, the clubs he used and his understanding of the game and the course on which it is played, came from the foundation of golf, at the Old Course, St Andrews. When we think of people like Peter Corsar Anderson, we recognise and respect the people who were the founders and developers of golf in this country, on whose shoulders were the burdens of building courses and clubs and the standards of play, and whose passion was encouraging young golfers to play the game well, in its true spirit. These are the shoulders on which we modern Anderson as Dominie Australian golfers stand. Such is the history of golf in Australia.

With generous contributions gratefully received from Alasdair Courtney, Archivist, Scotch College Perth, Malcolm Purcell and Fatima Pandor of Perth,Michael B de D Collins Persse, Keeper of the Archives, Geelong Grammar School, Ms Moira Drew, Museum Curator for Australian Golf Union/Golf Society of Australia and Archivist, Royal Melbourne Golf Club, Graham McEachran of Cottesloe GC History Group and recognising the encouragement from John Pearson, Editor of Through the Green,

The History of the Geelong Golf Club by Gordon Long BA, Dip Ed (Hawthorn Press 1967)
In The History of the Geelong Golf Club, quoting Golf World 1957 taken from the St Andrews Citizen
Geelong Grammarians 1855-1913 by Justin J Corfield and Michael Collins Persse (1996) page 711
Anderson was from St Andrews but he won the British (not world) championship at Prestwick.
From a 60 Years on memoir in 1955 by Noel Learmonth (1880-1970) GGS: 1895-98
The Geelong Grammar School Quarterly July 1897
Geelong Grammarians 1855-1913 by Justin J Corfield and Michael Collins Persse (1996) page 711
Information accompanying AGU Museum item; Melbourne GC became Royal Melbourne GC in 1895
Building a Tradition – A History of Scotch College Perth 1897-1996 by Jenny Gregory (UWA Press 1996)
Obituary by Professor Geoffrey C Bolton quoting Three Schoolmasters Melbourne Studies in Education 1976, S Murray-Smith Ed.
Building a Tradition – A History of Scotch College Perth 1897-1996 by Jenny Gregory (UWA Press 1996)
From The History of Cottesloe Golf Club 1908-1983 compiled and edited by GH Newman
Anderson was one of those who joined the club that night.
From The History of Cottesloe Golf Club 1908-1983
Obituary by Professor Geoffrey C Bolton
This article first appeared in the British Golf Collector’s Society publication ‘Through The Green’ in September 2005, and is reproduced here with the kind permission of the author.

The Al Howard Memorial Trophy

When the first hickory-shaft challenge match between The Golf Collector’s Society of Australia (now the AGHS) and The Golf Society of Australia was played at Royal Melbourne in November 2002, discussion was held over a few beers regarding a suitable trophy for the match.

At that time a silver trophy top piece that had been passed from father to son to grandson had been sitting on a side board cabinet for more than 25 years. The trophy was awarded to the winner of the 1921 NSW Amateur Championship – T. E. (Tom) Howard, who defeated Eric Apperly at Royal Sydney Golf Club at Rose Bay.

The idea then germinated that maybe the trophy laying fallow – suitably renamed – might be an appropriate grail for the winner of an annual contest between the AGHS and The Golf Society of Australia.

AlHoward1 AlHoward2
Al Howard (OAM)

Al was born 8th May 1913 at Mascot. Infused from an early age with golfing stories, action and folklore, Al caddied for his father at Royal Adelaide in 1923 when Tom won the Australian Open. At 16, he headed into the bush of central Queensland as a jackeroo during the Depression, and made his professional debut playing in the Australian Open in 1931 at The Australian Golf Club, in a field that included his father Tom.

Al played a significant role in the early post World War II years in re-establishing professional golf and the developing early driving ranges, and started a golf course design consultancy in 1952 that continued until 2008. Along the way he designed or developed over 200 golf courses, was elected an Honorary Member of the Australian Golf Course Architects Society, wrote golf stories, a weekly column for the Mirror group of newspapers, plus numerous articles for other publications for over 40 years.

He was golf presenter on the Channel 9’s World of Sport during the 50 & 60’s, and commentator on the early major televised tournaments, made many people laugh with after dinner speeches, sold a lot of golf balls and tees, lived a life filled with golfing experiences and memories, was awarded an OAM for services to golf in 1994, and honoured with Life Membership of the PGA.

Al passed away on 10th January 2014, 4 months short of his 101st birthday.