Robert Sibbald's golfing accident

Page of handwritten text

Extract from an 1805 copy of the 'Life of Sir Robert Sibbald, MD'.
[National Library of Scotland reference: Adv.MS.33.5.1]

Even when played in designated grounds, golf continued to be dangerous.

In his 'Autobiography', physician and antiquary Sir Robert Sibbald tells of a serious facial injury when returning from Leith Links in 1696:

'Ane accident befell me the 16 of October 1690 that as I was coming from Sir Robert Milne his house in Leith, where I had been visiting his Good Brother Mr. Elphiston's wyfe, who had taken physick that day, about four afternoon as I was going down to passe the Ditch to goe to the Links wher I left some Company playing at Goufe & my servant following me, neither he nor I nor the boy adverting I was strucken wt the back of the Club wt much force betwixt the Eyes at the root of the nose, the wound was oblong large, and about half ane inch long it was not half ane inch above the cartilage of the nose, the parts under the right eye was livid, and both the Canthi Majores were swelled I bled much & took a coach & came up, & was a good whyl befor I could want a plaister upon it. It was God his great goodness that neither the Cartilage was cut, nor one of ye Eye putt out for it was done with the sharpe syde of the Club.'

Although badly injured, Sibbald was more fortunate than some. In 1632, Thomas Chatto was killed by a flying golf ball in Kelso churchyard.

The game can still be dangerous today. In October 2009, 'The Daily Mail' newspaper reported a golfing fatality at Stirling.

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