The financial community of Edinburgh established the first club at Duddingston, called the Insurance & Banking Golf Club, in 1895. The estate on which they played was owned by the Duke of Abercorn and situated beneath the backdrop of Arthur’s Seat - the 800-foot high extinct volcano that dominates the eastern flank of the city – and this remains the location of the modern course played by members of Duddingston Golf Club.
Designed by Willie Park, Duddingston was enhanced in the 1960s by John Shade and Bill Biggar and now measures 6,525 yards, following the extension of several holes. This gently undulating, tree-lined course – Duddingston in Gaelic translates as “sunny side of the hill” – is a fine test of golf with the Braid burn presenting itself as a hazard to golfers on a number of holes as it winds its way through the estate.
The course is built on land that was part of a deer estate with many links to Scotland’s history. For instance, in 1745, before the Battle of Prestonpans, Bonnie Prince Charlie’s men were said to have camped on adjacent land known nowadays as Cavalry Park.
Duddingston is well respected in the Lothians as one of the best in the county with a run of demanding par fours from the 11th to the 13th holes. The most difficult hole on the card is “Woodlands” the 443- yard 11th where two fine shots are needed to reach a green that is at least one club further than it seems.
The signature hole is the 426-yard 13th called “Temple” – named after the monument built by the Duke of Abercorn that stands beside the hole – where the tee shot must be well positioned to allow an accurate second shot any chance of reaching a green where the ground drops toward three bunkers on the left of the putting surface.
Former club professional John Shade's son, Ronnie, has the last hole at Duddingston named after his initials - RDBM (colloquially translated as “right down the bloody middle”) – and it is fitting that the most famous of Duddingston's members is remembered for posterity. Ronnie was one of Scotland’s finest ever amateur golfers, competing for Scotland from 1957 to 1968, playing in four Walker Cups between 1961 and 1967 and winning the Scottish Amateur title five years in a row from 1963 to 1967.