If you are at Gullane Golf Club and are looking for a “diamond in the rough” experience you should call ahead and make an appointment with Archie Baird to see his wonderful Heritage of Golf Exhibition.
Young Archie and another interested golf historian
Archie, at the sprite young age of 92, is someone worth meeting on his own merit. A former Secretary of the Gullane Golf Club, a proper Scotsman with a wonderful sense of humor who still has a youthful glint in his eye. He has an enormous amount of golf history in his head and, despite a few pregnant memory moments, he is willing to share it all with you.
His Heritage of Golf Exhibition is a cluttered room next door to the Gullane Golf Club Pro Shop. It is like going through Archie’s attic, full of folkloric pictures, old clubs and balls, and assorted other memorabilia from his personal collection he has accumulated over a very engaged golfing career in the East Lothian area. This collection reminds us that East Lothian, with one of the most robust collections of early links courses in the British Isles, had a long and storied rivalry with St. Andrews as to the epicenter of golf in Scotland.
A smattering of the lineage of original clubs from the way back machine
The coolest part of this is, as Archie says, unlike any other museum of golf history you walk through you can actually pick up, touch, and feel all these historic treasures. You will be amazed at how just holding a feathery ball or an ash shafted spoon in your hand tells you so much more about its role in golf history.
Just pick one, any one, and give it a waggle
A ball library along with the menu at the turn
The original kick-stand club carrier-you can actually pick it up
Archie’s story begins with how the Dutch, not the Scots, invented the game. He has a print of an Adriaen Van de Velde painting from 1668 to prove it. The story moves on to Scotland and the eastern coastal towns near Dunbar, North Berwick, Musselburgh, Leith, and St. Andrews.
Depiction of North Berwick Links then….does not look much different now…
It includes the earliest rivalries from the mid 1800’s covering the stories of the early Open Championships at Prestwick and the Red Leather Belt that was bestowed to the champions. Old Tom and Young Tom Morris and Old Willie and Young Willie Park had turned it into a family rivalry in the early years.
Old Willie Park had his own stature in the history of the game
Young Willie followed in pop’s boot steps
Archie then gets to the whole development of the ball thing….from Feathery to Guttie to the Wound Haskell ball at the turn of the 20th Century. He covers the development of clubs from ash to hickory to steel in the late 1920’s. These technological changes made it more affordable and allowed the game to be embraced by more and more people…it was critical to the development of golf in those early years.
It took half a day to stuff a hat full of damp feathers into this hand-sewn leather cover….not a cheap enterprise….they could only make about 3 balls a day
The Guttie, molded from a gum-like material, was more durable and cheaper to produce
The device that allowed them to wind hundreds of feet of rubber bands around a solid core to make the first Haskell balls
Younger Archie with the fisherman’s version…a reshaped fish hook with a hemp grip and a rock surrounded by cork for the ball…..golfers will try anything to play
The rest is just an eclectic collection of all sorts of odds and ends that will fascinate you. Delivered with a bit of wit and lots of common sense knowledge Archie gives this stuff a life all it’s own.
The proper “Members Only” outfit…
Friends in high places..signed Masters flag and personal note from Ben Crenshaw commemorating his first win at Augusta
His registry list of all the great links of Scotland
Potpourri…this display case reminds me a golfing grandmother’s living room….
If you are at Gullane to play golf take the time to call ahead and arrange for a half hour walk through Archie’s attic…you will not be disappointed.
The Heritage of Golf Museum
Gullane Golf Club
East Lothian, Scotland EH32 2BB
Contact: Archie Baird 01875 870277