Golf for the élite

At much the same time as the authorities were banning the game for ordinary people, wealthy Scots were themselves golfers – from the King to university students. They played using expensive handcrafted equipment on open land such as the links.

Golf equipment a necessity

James Melville learned to play golf as a boy in Montrose. He continued to play as a student at St Andrews University.

His father encouraged him, buying him his 'necessars' for golf and archery. But he refused to give his son money to spend in the town's taverns.

Part of illustration of King James IV.

James IV – a golfing king

While his Parliament banned golf in his name, James IV was himself a golfer. Hand-crafted clubs were bought for him in Perth.

Larger image of James IV >

Mary Queen of Scots playing golf

Mary Queen of Scots

She is depicted here playing golf on the links at St Andrews, but there is scant evidence that Mary Queen of Scots was a golfer.

Full image of Mary Queen of Scots >

Part of an illustrated plan showing links with buildings nearby.

St Andrews town plan

The links at St Andrews, shown in John Geddy's plan, were reserved to the townspeople for 'golf, shuting and all games'.

Full image of Geddy's plan of St Andrews >