Dunblane New Golf Club is 'new' because until 1922 golf was played on a small nine hole course adjoining the River Allan on what is now the Laighills Public Park. The original course was laid out by a Mr. Philp who owned the Hydropathic Hotel which had been built in 1878.
Mr. Philp leased the ground from the Honourable Captain Drummond of Cromlix for £24 per annum and bore all the expense of laying out the course.The Dunblane Hydropathic Club was formally opened on 2nd April 1892. A foursomes was played between two keen amateurs, Mr. Balfour and Mr. Stewart (of Stewart and Lloyds) and two well known professionals, Old Tom Morris and Ben Sayers of North Berwick.
After four rounds, the amateurs won by nine and eight! According to the report in the local paper, 'Ben Sayers played a good game but was somewhat handicapped by the unsafe play of Tom Morris, who, considering his years, played a good game'.
The Railway Station opened in 1848, and many visitors were attracted to Dunblane to 'take the waters', view the local monuments and admire the scenery. Although Dunblane continued to expand, the Town Council felt the town needed the added attraction of an 18-hole golf course, and so various options were considered for expanding the existing course, but to no avail.
In 1911 a Mr. R. A. Martin of St. Paul's Buildings, 220 Broadway, New York stepped in as a benefactor and purchased the Laighills from Cromlix Estate and transferred ownership from Cromlix Estate to the Town. He had emigrated from Dunblane thirty years previously, had prospered and wanted to do something for the good of the town. The conditions he laid down were that the park would only ever be used for the benefit of the public and that the people of Dunblane would still have the privilege of grazing their cows on the park free of charge as they had done when he was a boy.
By 1918 the Hydropathic management declared they were no longer willing to lease or maintain the course so it was taken over by the Town Council, but both the course and the finances continued to deteriorate so much that an alternative had to be found.
In 1922 Colonel Jack Stirling of Kippendavie encouraged some local businessmen to form a committee to consider forming a golf club using the fields no longer required by his estate. A close friend of Colonel Stirling, Major Cecil Hutchison, who was an expert golfer, inspected the ground and, with some help from James Braid, the new course was laid out. Debentures of £25 were issued to cover the cost of setting up the Club (£4267) and Dunblane New Golf Club was registered in Edinburgh on January 5th 1923.
Mr. J. C. Ross was appointed as greenkeeper at £3 10s a week, a horse, cart and harness with a roller box and two mowers were bought and play started on the 'new' course in April 1923.
The opening ceremony was performed by Mrs. Stirling on 7th June 1924, when as exhibition match was played by four well-known professionals - Arthur Havers, George Duncan, James Braid and Gordon Lockhart. The LONDON TIMES described the new course as 'one of the most beautiful parks imaginable'.
The SCOTSMAN said 'the course provides plenty of variety, excellent sport and a great deal of aesthetic appeal. It ranks with the best Perthshire greens'.All of this is still very true ninety years on. An ongoing landscaping and maintenance programme has ensured the quality and appeal of the course to thousands of visitors over the years.
The course itself has seen changes. In 1943 an order was issued to plough up the outer holes (9-12) for agricultural purposes but, because of tight bookkeeping and the generosity of the proprietor in cancelling outstanding rents, the club was able to reinstate the holes which were back in play by 1948. The holes were only numbered at this time. In 1966, a competition to name the holes was won by a Mrs McAlpine who generously donated her 5 guineas prize to Dr Barnardo's Homes.
Conditions for members improved dramatically after 1964 with the building of the new clubhouse. Until that time, there had been hundreds of sheep on the course, with all the attendant problems; the course flooded frequently and there were very large parties at weekends. Between 1961 and 1965 membership rose from 405 to 602 and today we have 800 Adult Members and 100 Juniors.