In Cromarty an informal golfing and dining club had formed in the mid-century that attracted numerous gentleman and merchants from the surrounding Black Isle and Easter Ross. Chief among them were Sir Charles Ross of Balnagown, Sheriff McLeod of Geanis, and William Forsyth. After enjoying themselves on the links the gentlemen would retire to Forsyth’s home for his generous hospitality. But that begs the question, who was supplying them with their equipment and wine? David Alston points to James Fraser, a local merchant from the Black Isle.
Fraser’s account book from 1755 to 1759 illuminates the business transaction of this golfing fanatic. His business mainly consisted of importing luxury goods, such as Lisbon wine for Mr. Forsyth, and exporting grains and salmon. However, his book also recorded the sale of a golf club to Mr Hugh Munro. Fraser’s trading connections were vast, so it is difficult to pinpoint the club’s origins. It possibly came from Elgin or Banff, or from one of his trips to Edinburgh and Glasgow, where he purchased numerous golf balls and paid multiple caddies.
1777 the Fraserburgh Golf Club was formed. The charter for Fraserburgh’s golf club had many notable members including Lord Saltoun, Sir William Forbes of Fettercairn and Pitsligo, Alexander Garden of Troup. The club’s charter is an excellent tool to understand the social network of the golfer that met every third Tuesday from April to September, acting in a similar way to Cromarty’s club.
However, the charter illuminates another development of the game in the north: the designation of the role of the greens keeper and his salary.
Followed shortly by the Aberdeen Golf Club in 1780.