RAMSEY Golf Club was formed at a meeting of interested parties in the Masonic Club rooms, Water Street in Ramsey, Isle of Man, on the evening of Wednesday, September 23, 1891. The Isle of Man Times reported that the attendance was ‘large and representative’.
Mr JM Cruickshank, soon to be elected Secretary, reported to the meeting that through the enterprise of Mr Alexander Bruce a links had already been laid out at Milntown Flat and that the course would be ready for play in a few weeks. The links had been laid out by Mr Tom Morris, the celebrated golfer of St Andrews, Scotland, who had been encouraged to visit the Island by Mr Bruce.
The involvement of Bruce in the estate had come about as the result of the previous owner, William Bell Christian, being declared bankrupt upon his death in 1886.
Milntown and the Christians
The Christian family had been associated with the area in which the Milntown estate lay since the 15th century. Originally the family name was MacCristen (McCrystyn), of Scandinavian origin, which in time became Christen and then onto Christian. Many of his forebears were Deemsters (Judges) and he himself held the title of Receiver General (basically Chairman of the Harbour Board and sat in the Legislative Council). One of the Christian Deemsters was the famous Iliam Dhone, a former Governor of the Island, who was executed for treason by the English. Another family member who managed to upset the English, was the second son of John and Bridget Christian, one Fletcher Christian who was master’s mate on the Bounty (mutiny).
Bruce was Manager of Dumbell’s bank to who the late Christian had been indebted and in his capacity as trustee of the estate was obliged to achieve whatever income he could from the property held by it. This included the Milntown House itself, the surrounding land and land at Maughold. However despite a tremendous amount of advertising the land in Lezayre remained without a tenant. In 1891 he hatched a plan to generate some income from the property – build a golf course.
Get a good golf links
A few years later Bruce was to explain just how the plan to put a golf course on the land had come about. He was in conversation with a ‘man from the North’ when the ‘man’ told him that if he wanted to develop Milntown property, best thing to do is to ‘get a good golf links’. Not long after that he was recommended to engage Tom Morris to build the course. It is likely that the ‘man from the North’ was General Brereton.
The General was a retiree from the Bengal Lancers who had, from 1878, made his home on the beautiful Riversdale estate on the Jurby Road, then just outside of Ramsey. He was a golfer who was clearly passionate about the sport, constructing his own nine hole layout on land that led from his main dwelling down to the River Sulby, as it was entitled then. Here he entertained himself and a large circle of golfing friends, most of who were involved with Freemasonry. It was this camaraderie that was crucial in the drive to form a golf club and for the club to have a course of its own, albeit leased.
The first meeting
The High-Bailiff JC LaMothe was unable to attend, however he wrote - “I am sorry I cannot be present at the meeting this evening for the purpose of establishing a golf club but I will gladly co-operate in joining the club as an effective member”. After discussion Mr Roose proposed that a club be formed and this was seconded by Mr S Wilson. The proposal was carried unanimously.
As a result of the vote it was decided that Ramsey Golf Club should be formed. The list of the first Club Officers was impressive:
President - General Brereton;
Vice-Presidents - Deemster Gill, Col. Thellusson, Mr Hick, Captain Hardie, the High-Bailiff, Mr JR Cowell, Mr A Bruce, Mr CB Nelson and Mr Clucas.
Committee - Dr Gell, Messrs WD Roose, S Wilson, J Beswick, WH Taubman, JJ Corlett, CB Heyes, W Worrall, FM LaMothe and EB Mosey.
Secretary - JM Cruickshank and Assistant Secretary - PMC Kermode.
Treasurer - HE Bishop.
The annual subscription was fixed at 10s 6d, however, after January 1, an entrance fee of 5s would be paid by members joining, in addition to the subscription.
The meeting was adjourned for a fortnight.
However it seems that the next meeting was not held until December 18 in Ramsey Court House when it was reported that the Club was operating. The Club had by this time made satisfactory arrangements with Mr Bruce for the use of the course and the official opening of the course would take place January 2, 1892, when golfers from Douglas and Castletown would be invited to play.