There have been countless changes since the early beginnings, when golf clubs were tentatively set up wherever some ground could be leased.
In 1897 Brodick’s original 9-hole course was laid out l at West Mayish, adjacent to the old Lamlash road, but the club moved down to a new 18-hole layout in the village, which was opened on the 27th July 1913 by the Marchioness of Graham. (See below) This was an adroit move, since the original course was closed for play in May 1914, when it was requisitioned for grazing sheep as part of the war effort.
The 1903 Pirnmill course, located at Penrioch, was also closed in 1914, but reopened after WW1. In 1922 the secretary was Alex Kerr of ‘Hazelbank’ who remained in post until 1939, when the second World War again stopped play. The Pirnmill club opened again in 1946 with Miss Currie as secretary until 1951 when the post was taken over by Mr. A. Blair. Sadly, the club folded in the mid 1950s.
Kilmory’s 9-hole course at Lenamhor, located in the fields behind the Creamery, was opened 1905, and until 1909 the course employed a professional golfer, A.D.Crawford. From 1910 until 1914 the pro was J.Reid and Secretary A.F.Duncan, but it never reopened after WW1. In 1906 a golf course was tried at Cleats shore, but only existed for one season.
In 1907 Kildonan’s 9-hole course opened, located above the village with a number of testing long par 4’s and natural hazards. During the early years the secretary was Alex McNeil. The course kept going for a while during WW1, with the greens protected from the sheep that were allowed to graze the land, but closed shortly after WW1 was declared. It reopened in 1952 but only survived for a period of 10 years. An article about the resurgence of the course was printed in the National Geographic magazine.
The Corriecravie 9-hole course opened in 1910, located above the road adjacent to Park House until outbreak of WW1. In 1920 the club was reformed by a local soldier, James Brown, after he returned home from wartime service playing on another 9-hole course (complete with a tennis court!) below the road near Creag Bhan. From 1930 the Secretary was Peter Craig, but the club folded following the restrictions imposed by WW2 and never re-opened. The clubhouse building still exists though refurbished as a private dwelling.
Shiskine Golf Club opened in 1896, but the original 9-hole course designed by Willie Fernie was completely altered when Willie Park was contracted to design an 18-hole course in 1912. He fitted12 re-designed holes into the existing site and added six holes on the Drumadoon hill - but on the outbreak of WW1 two years later the six new holes were returned to agriculture and the wrath of nature. When the war came to an end there was no incentive to revive the six holes as the ground had returned to a dauntingly wild state. For this reason, the new layout designed by Park with 12 holes has remained ever since, giving Shiskine Golf Club world-wide recognition for its unique layout as a 12-hole course. The only greens remaining from the original Fernie design were the 4th, 5th and 6th at the time when 18 holes were in play, but are now the 1st, 4th and 9th greens.
In 1936 James Braid designed a 6-hole extension with a second par 5, which would have increased the yardage of the course by 1730, but failure to obtain a lease of the required ground caused the project to be abandoned.
Whiting Bay Golf Club, opened in 1895, originally had 9 holes, laid out in the upper reaches of the course, and playing it involved rather a long climb from the village, using the old peat road. A starters’ hut was located in the hollow on the left of the existing 3rd green and the first tee was the present 5th. The original ground formed part of Mid-Kiscadale Farm, of which Mr W.Kelso was the tenant,and the estate set the ground rent at £20.00 per annum.
In 1907 the lower area was leased from John Kelso for an additional £15.00 per annum, paid to the Arran Estate, and a year later the committee decided to build a clubhouse in close proximity to the access road. Mr Allan Kerr drafted the first layout of the 18-hole course in 1909.
Brodick Golf Club was opened on July 10th 1897. Its 9-hole course was designed by Jack Duncan, a professional golfer from Kelvinside, Glasgow, and was sited on land by the old Lamlash road. It was leased from three persons. Alexander Fullarton of West Knowe, J.C. Ballingal of East Knowe and Alex McBride of West Mayish. A Clyde cruise on the paddle steamer ‘Glen Sannox’ ,built in 1892 by J&G Thomson Ltd and captained by Peter McGregor, helped to raise money to fund the golf course.
Although it enjoyed superb views of Brodick Bay, the Castle and Buchanan’s paddle steamers approaching the pier, the course featured a selection of natural hazards that included trees, ditches, dykes and hedges. In 1899 a decision was taken to shorten the layout of the course and it was redesigned with all the holes measuring around 150 yards, in the area of West Mayish. The new course was supported by the Brodick Public Hall Recreation Company Limited - an early pointer to the great social importance of the golf clubs in Arran’s various villages today.