Drumpellier Golf Club became 100 years old in 1994. In one century, thousands of local golfers have derived a lot of pleasure (and not a little pain) from their recreation. Millions of balls have bounded down the fairways – and a handful into the rough – mirroring the Club’s progress down the century. The Club teed off, as it were, in the age of coal and iron – Coatbridge was still the heavily polluted Iron Burgh then – and ‘holed out’ their first century in the age of quiet housing estates which now dominate the western edge of the town and lap up against the course’s borders.
On New years day 1894 the sharp crack of a ball speeding off the tee was heard in Coatbridge for the first time, as the early golf enthusiasts launched their club. The weather that day was not encouraging; it was dry, but cloudy, and a light wind from the North West would have made the maximum temperature of just 5 degrees C feel very raw. But they persevered, and over 125 years later the team they formed is still here, recognisably the same golf club after many turnovers of personnel, three different names, two different golf courses, four different clubhouses, and several changes of layout.
In the late 1890’s the Club, formed by the Young Men’s Guild of Gartsherrie Church, played over nine holes in three fields at Blacklands Farm (on the road to Glenboig) . Their ‘clubhouse’ was the pavilion belonging to the Victoria Cricket Club, and their name was (briefly) Gartsherrie Golf Club becoming the Coatbridge Golf Club in 1896. They tried to lease a further nine holes from the adjoining farm of Sunnyside, but failed: and there were problems with rent and summer use of the course (in competition with the hay crop).
As a result the new century saw the club with a new name – Drumpellier Golf Club – a new course – on nine holes on the Drumpellier estate – and shortly afterwards a new clubhouse. That new clubhouse still stands beyond the 2nd tee; it was built in the form of two semi-detached houses in case the lease expired on the course and it needed to be sold. 1912 saw expansion to an eighteen hole course by taking in the fields to the North and West (presently 8th – 16th). The two world wars saw the disappearance of this ‘new’ part of the course under sheep and cattle hooves, and the farmer’s plough; whilst the ‘old’ south eastern part has seen golf for nine full decades, shared for five of them with sheep, and play stopped only for crises such as Queen Victoria’s funeral in 1901, the deep snows of 1947, and on Sabbaths until 1948.
The name and the basic course remain from 1900: but there were two changes of clubhouse. In 1948 the members and their golf gear were moved locker, stock and bag to Drumpellier Mansion House, an imposing 18th century property. It’s ghost now stalks the car park, where it stood, it’s windows shaded by the yew tree that still remains at the corner. The fine trees by the 18th green and 1st tee marked the borders of it’s lawns. But a different type of growth was eating out the mansion’s heart…. dry rot. Barely 20 years later the present clubhouse was officially opened as a replacement. The mansion was bulldozed, leaving it’s epitaph in the 2nd hole’s name.
However, the course layout has changed little since the opening of the new clubhouse, the present pattern having been completed by the laying down in the early 1960’s of the 7th and 17th holes, carved out of the woodland. Back in 1912 when the eighteen hole course was first played, the 1st hole, for instance, lay where the second now runs, whilst the present 1st was the 17th. The 18th hole at that time, known as ‘Home’, ran from the corner of the Cricket Club fence to a green next to the then clubhouse, a distance of 202yards, in range of the very longest drive with the golf ball of those days ( a driving contest in 1905 was won with a 196 yarder by Mr Rattray). The shortest hole on the course then was ‘The Wood’, a pocket handkerchief 80 yarder laid on what is nowadays the approach to the 6th green. In those days too there were no dog-legs, fewer tree plantations, rectangular shaped greens, and moe bunkers (sometimes slitting the fairways like trenches; only one bunker of those days (out of 45 on the original nine holes is still in play today. The holes were played in reverse in Winter, sheep grazed the course, and, then as now, little boys nipped onto the course occasionally to pinch balls. Committee’s worries never cease.