A HISTORY OF
TORYGLEN GOLF CLUB,
Carrick McDonald and David Jackson
© Rutherglen Heritage Society
Many Ruglonians, golfers included, may be unaware that Rutherglen once had a golf
course located within its Royalty Boundary. It was at Toryglen, which at one time sat
within the western boundary of the Royal Burgh. The history of the golf club,
established in 1893, is not a long one; golfers played on the testing nine hole course
for less than fifty years, but its story is well worth telling. Also, the land where the
course was located, has a very interesting history in its own right.
This booklet begins with the history of the farm on which the golf course was laid out,
traces the story of the golf club from its foundation to its closure in 1942, tells the
story of the club’s most prestigious trophy and of its wealthy donor, and describes
what can be seen today at the site where the golf course used to be.
Above, members of Toryglen Golf Club pictured in 1895, in front of their clubhouse, previously Toryglen farmhouse
1. History of the Land
Historically, the area known today as Toryglen lay within the western boundary of the Royal Burgh of
Rutherglen at the course of the Malls Mire burn. William Roy’s map of 1755 does not show an area
known as Toryglen. That area is simply described as ‘Rugland Muir’, muir being the Scots word for
moorland. The Rev. David Ure’s The History of Rutherglen and East Kilbride published in 1793,
features 'A Table Containing the Names of Places in Rutherglen'. Similarly, this table makes no
mention of Toryglen. The first reference to Toryglen is on Thomas Richardson’s map of 1795 which
shows a farmhouse known as ‘Torryglen’, situated out on Rutherglen Muir, or Rutherglen West Muir,
as it was also known.
The land on which Toryglen golf course was laid out belonged to William Dixon Ltd., coal and iron
masters. William Dixon began mining the Govan coalfields in the early 1770s, and founded the nearby
iron works popularly known as Dixon’s Blazes. Dixon died in 1822 and control of the business passed
to his son, William junior, who continued his father’s practice of buying up estates around Glasgow
Above, Roy’s 1755 map makes no mention of Toryglen. That area, to the west, is shown as ‘Ruglan Muir’.
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland
Above, Richardson’s 1795 map shows 'Torryglen Farm' out on Rutherglen Muir
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland
Prior to being a golf course, the land was in use as a farm. Census information beginning in
1841 shows the land at Toryglen being leased to a succession of tenant farmers. The changes
in the names of the occupants every ten years show the short-term nature of the tenancies.
Ownership of the land remained with Dixons.
The 1841 census shows Andrew Wallace and his family as tenant farmers. The farm
house comprised two dwellings: one occupied by the Wallaces, who were originally
from East Kilbride, the other by various people aged 30 and under, all described as
‘Farm servants’, meaning farm labourers.
One of those people is of particular interest. She is Isabella Auchinvole, then aged 19.
Isabella's 100th. birthday was the subject of a local newspaper article in 1922. By then
living in Kirkintilloch, she states in the article that she was born at Toryglen Farm in
1822, and married a man from Shotts. 1
Isabella died not long after the local newspaper article appeared, and her death
certificate shows her as being the widow of Robert Crawford, another of the farm
labourers listed in the 1841 census as residing at Toryglen Farm. Importantly for our
history, her father’s occupation is shown as 'Farmer'.
It seems reasonable to conclude that, Isabella having been born at Toryglen Farm,and still living there at age 19, and with her father being a farmer, that he was theprincipal tenant there in 1822. The Wallaces appear to have kept her on to work on thefarm after the death of her parents.
This tells us that the land at Toryglen was a tenanted farm as far back as the early 1820s. How long it was a farm before then is uncertain, although Roy's 1755 map shows the land on Rugland Muir as being tilled, indicating that the land was being cultivated back then.
Above, photo of Isabella Auchinvole aged 90, which featured in the local newspaper article mentioned above.
Many thanks to Allan McAuliffe of New South Wales for letting us have this picture of his three-times great grandmother
1906-07 map showing the golf
course to the north west of
Rutherglen, lying within the Royalty
Boundary which follows the course
of the Malls Mire Burn.
Reproduced with the
permission of the
National Library of
The next four censuses: those in 1851, 1861, 1871 and 1881, show a similar pattern
of occupancy: two families, each with a large number of children, in one instance as
many as seven, with occupations continuing to include 'Farm servant', 'Agricultural
labourer' and 'Ploughman'. From 1871, the older children are mostly described as
The picture changes in the 1891 census, where the heads of the two families are
detailed as: 'Archibald McMillan, Bricklayer' and 'John Dykes, Flour miller'. None of the
occupations of either of the families’ members show employment relating in any way
to agriculture. Therefore at some point between 1881 and 1891, the land at Toryglen
ceased to be a working farm, before becoming a golf course in 1893.
The change of land use from farm to golf course is confirmed by the 1901 census.
This shows the tenants at Toryglen as the Gordon family, all born in Dumfries. The
occupation of the father, John Gordon, is shown as ‘Gardener, golf course’, so we take
him to be the green keeper. The occupation of his eldest son George, is shown as
‘Golf club maker’. 2
2. The Club
From the Glasgow Evening Times November 16th, 1893:
"At a meeting held last night in the Trades Hall a club, to
be called the Toryglen Golf Club was formally constituted.
The chair was occupied by Mr Charles Slater, Rutherglen,
and there were about fifty gentlemen present.
The chairman gave a resume of the negotiations the
provisional committee have had with the proprietors of the
ground at Toryglen. He stated that the course was ready
for play, the turf being so good that made greens would
not be required."
"There were nine holes, and some of them were of a very
sporting character. He announced that they had already
secured 150 members without any trouble, and these
would pay one guinea of a subscription. As they had
decided to limit the membership to 250, the remaining 100
would have to pay in addition to the subscription an
entrance fee of one guinea. The following office bearers
were then elected : - Captain, Charles Slater, Rutherglen ;
Secretary, T. McLelland Jnr, 10 Wendover Crescent,
Mount Florida ; Treasurer, Mr Andrew Thomson. "
Above, map showing the original course layout and yardage of the holes.
This map accompanied an article in the Glasgow Evening Times about the opening of the course in November 1893. Toryglen Farmhouse is
wrongly shown as 'Tory Glen House'.
"In August 1898 whilst playing in a three-ball match with R. B. Kennedy and John Oulson, Mr. F. W. Kennedy set a new course record of 75."
Course Records: 1924 W W Fox and T M Boyd (am) 69, 1930 S McKinley (am) 68, 1935 J M Dykes (am) 68, 1940/47 J Bunyan (am) 66 M Seymour (pro) 68
Left; Toryglen Golf Club Badge
Left, Toryglen Golf Club scorecard
3. The Course
The course was laid out in 1893 on ground which formed, as we have seen, the old Toryglen Farm, with
the farmhouse becoming the clubhouse, part of which was occupied by the green keeper. The land,
still owned by William Dixon Ltd, was bounded to the north by a section of the Caledonian Railway.
It had a nine hole layout with a total yardage of 5,656 yards, playing the nine holes twice.
The scorecard pictured below shows a standard scratch score of 70, and that the course had, rather
unusually, consecutive par 5s at holes 7 and 8. Note the one stroke penalty for your ball ending up
in the sheep drain, a reminder of the land's farming past. The course architect is unknown.
From The Glasgow Evening Times, 25th. November, 1893: "This course which will be opened for play
on Saturday, is of a sporting character. The holes are of good length and will test the driving qualities of
the majority of the crack players. The turf is old and of good quality. Although the club was only formed a
few days ago, the membership already numbers 180. The committee have decided to make the limit 250."
The article goes on to inform us that, "Toryglen house [sic] will be used as a clubhouse."
From the Glasgow Evening Times, 1st. May 1903: "Having suffered on busy days from the drawback of
having too many short holes, the committee of the Toryglen Golf Club took steps to place their members in
a more advantageous position. By leasing another field, contiguous to the clubhouse, the round of nine
holes has been considerably lengthened and greatly improved."
"According to the new arrangement, the first two holes are knocked into one, while on the new ground the
second and third greens are located. The next three holes are unchanged, but the present sixth will be
brought back thirty yards, making the last named a most testing hole. The eighth and ninth will be played as
at present. The rearranged course will be formally opened tomorrow afternoon."
One description of the course tells us that "Golfers had to play over Mallsmyre Burn burn three times in a round, Other hazards included hedges, fences and trees." This means that a section of the course actually lay within Glasgow in the parish of Little Govan.
"The course is fairly flat but not so simple as it would appear. It is kept in first-class condition, the greens being as good as any to be found in the area."
Golfing Annual 1904-05
Above, Toryglen Golf Club scorecard
From the Glasgow Evening Times, 5th. September
1936: “Glasgow Corporation have acquired Toryglen golf
course for a new municipal housing estate. The course,
which is of nine holes, is situated in the South-East of the
city on ground owned by William Dixon Ltd., coal and iron
masters, and negotiations for its acquisition have been
proceeding for some time."
"The club has been in existence
for 43 years, and at present has a membership of close
on 300. It is yet uncertain whether the club will endeavour
to find another course, or if it will be wound up. In the
latter event, it is possible that the annual competition for
the Cameron Corbett vase, put up by the club for
competition among leading amateurs, may be
Despite the rather downbeat end to this article, play
continued on Toryglen golf course until 1942.
"Result of the ladies’ spoon competition played in March 1935; Miss J. Abercrombie, 105-29-76; Miss Davidson, 99-22-77; Mrs. Stewart, 104-25-79"
"Result of a mixed foursome competition played in May 1910; Mrs Porter & J R Burn, (12½), 86½;
Miss L. M. Arbuckle and Thomas M Boyd (4), 88; MissNettie Tait & Bertram Forsyth (14), 88; Mrs Cook & William Porter (14), 90."
"Result of the August 1938 Greenkeepers competition; H White (12), 66; R M Stark (16), 67; R Fisher (14), 69; J Montgomery (22), 69. The best scratch score was made by R B Bain, 74."
"The competition for the President’s and Vice President’s competition was played in August 1925, result as follows; class one – J A Fox, 80-7-73; P Lawrie, 84-10-74 and T McCormack, 84-10-74 tied for second; T Reid, 82-7-75; class two – J Murray, 92-20-72; J McQuiston, 86-13-73; A R Wright, 93-18-75."
4. Site of the Golf Course Today
Today there is no trace of a golf course, or indeed a farm, to be found at Toryglen. The area where the course used to be is now largely covered by a heavily wooded area known as Malls Mire Community Woodland, and by housing development in Prospecthill Circus.. The Malls Mire burn, as we saw earlier, marked the western Royalty Boundary of
Rutherglen. A local nature reserve managed by Urban Roots environmental project, Malls Mire is currently the only community woodland in Glasgow. Most of the trees there were planted in 1993.
The photograph shown below was taken from the 14th. floor of the high flats at Prospecthill Crescent, and shows in the foreground, the location of Toryglen golf course, now obscured by the community woodland. To the north of the woodlandare the M74 motorway and the West Coast mainline, previously the CaledonianRailway. To the west is a new housing development, and to the east, playingfields (where Blackfaulds Farm was) adjoining the ground of Rutherglen Glencairn FC.
Above, a photograph taken from the high flats at Prostpecthill Crescent looking north, showing in the foreground where Toryglen golf course used to be.
Above, location of the section of the course which lay west of the Malls Mire Burn (the Glasgow side). The new houses in Prospecthill Circus and Malls Mire Community Woodland are seen in the background to the right.
Above, the premises of Toryglen Community base in Prostpecthill Circus. This is very close to the site of Toryglen Farmhouse which became the golf clubhouse in 1893, shown in the first photograph in this article.
5. Recollections from David Jackson,
amateur historian, Burnhill,
'The clubhouse was the original Toryglen farmhouse, and I've got a photograph of it, with a thatched roof, in 1895, and all the golfers are sitting in front wearing their bunnets and sporting moustaches and beards. (The photograph is reproduced at the begining of this article.) The most famous trophy was the Cameron Corbett Vase, and my dad's two older brothers, Matt and Davie, caddied in it. They never played golf, they weren't golfers, but they caddied in it.'
'In the mid-1950s, we relaid our
back green with turf from Toryglen
golf course. My dad cut the turf in
squares which we then barrowed
home. He dug a drainage
channel, put broken bricks into it,
put in a layer of ash from Whites
Chemical Company, then added
topsoil, and then he laid the turf.
So I can say that my back green
today, is actually from Toryglen
Right, David's back green in Burnhill,
pictured in September 2018, made from turf from Toryglen golf course.
Above, Johnny Morrison's Burnhill Rest, No. 2 Burnhill Street. It was here in the early 1930s that David's dad Tommy, sold to the customers, golf balls that he had found on Toryglen golf course. This Victorian pub was demolished in 1935. Picture credit: David Jackson
6. The Cameron Corbett Vase
Mention a vase to most people, and they will bring to mind a container, perhaps made
of glass or crystal, used to display flowers. The winners of competitions of all types
may, for their efforts, find themselves receiving as a trophy, one of a variety of
containers, often highly ornate and occasionally of some value.
These include a cup, a bowl, a quaich, a tankard, a goblet, a plate, a jug, or in the
case of our history, a vase, sometimes pronounced to rhyme with 'haze'. Toryglen
Golf Club's most prestigious trophy was The Cameron Corbett Vase.
Above, Neal Stewart (L) and George Crawford of Haggs Castle Golf Club, holding the Cameron Corbett Vase with the winners board in the background.
Left, the Cameron Corbett Vase, donated to Toryglen Golf Club by Archibald Cameron Corbett in 1897.
The Cameron Corbett Vase was first played for
in 1897 at Toryglen Golf Club. The trophy was
presented to the golf club by Archibald
Cameron Corbett, later 1st. Baron Rowallan.
The Cameron Corbett Vase is recognised as
the second oldest amateur golf tournament still
being competed for annually in Great Britain.
The Tennant Cup, organised by The Glasgow
Golf Club, rightly holds the distinction of being
the oldest amateur golf event in the world
which is still being held every year.
The Cameron Corbett Vase started life as a
one round (18 hole) amateur stroke play
tournament. It was played on the first Saturday
in June, Derby Day in the horse racing world.
It was played annually at Toryglen Golf Club
until 1942 when there was a break until 1945
as a result of the Second World War.
The tournament never returned to Toryglen. A new
home had to be found for the tournament.
Apparently, the brother of the club secretary at
Toryglen happened to be club secretary at
Haggs Castle GC, so the trophy moved there
where it has remained to this day. Haggs
Castle was also home club of the final winner
of the event at Toryglen, A. C. Taylor.
The First Winner
This is from a report in the Paisley & Renfrewshire Gazette
1st. May 1897, on a match between Kilmacolm GC and
Greenock GC, which mentions the first Cameron Corbett
“A notable incident of the afternoon’s play was the splendid
performance of Mr. A. F. Duncan, who not only defeated his
opponent by 10 holes... and who represented the local club
at the Tory Glen competition, which took place a short time
ago, handed over to the care of the President, the Cameron
Corbett Vase which he had been successful in winning. The
golfer received a hearty cheer.”
From the Glasgow Herald, Thursday 12th May 1898: “The
second competition for the handsome vase presented to the
Toryglen Golf Club by Mr Cameron Corbett MP, took place last
night over the Toryglen course. The competition was open to
not more than three representatives of each club. There were
15 entries representing nine clubs. The entry was not large, but
it was representative, and the competition resulted in some
capital play. Mr A F Duncan, Kilmalcolm, the present holder of
the trophy, finished with a fine score of 78.”
Mr. Duncan was victorious in two subsequent years: in 1902
(representing Greenock GC) and in 1908.
Above, a list of the winners during the years the Vase was contested at Toryglen
The only time the vase was won by a player representing the host club was in 1932, when the victor was Toryglen member William Stringer.
Other Toryglen Golf Club trophies
The Shaw-Stewart Medal, The Dalziel Medal,
The Copestake Cup, The Kaymac Trophy.
7. Archibald Cameron Corbett
Above, Mr. and Mrs. Archibald Cameron Corbett. Oil on ivory miniatures by Annie R. Merrylees
Politician, property developer, philanthropist
Archibald Cameron Corbett, 1st Baron Rowallan
(23 May 1856 – 19 March 1933), was a Scottish
Liberal Party and Liberal Unionist Party politician.
The second son of Thomas Corbett, a Glasgow
merchant and philanthropist, and Sarah (née
Cameron). He was educated at home and at Glasgow
With his older brother Thomas, he took up
the offer of a world tour rather than go to university. On
his return, he briefly studied sculpture in South
Kensington and then managed his father's estates in
Essex which he bought from his uncle after his father's
death in 1880. He became one of the principal
developers of the eastern suburbs of London.
An interest in philanthropy led him into politics and at
the 1885 general election, he was elected Member of
Parliament for Glasgow Tradeston at the age of 29,
first as a Liberal and from 1886 as a Liberal Unionist.
In August 1908 he crossed the floor of the House and
rejoined the Liberal Party. He held Glasgow Tradeston
until his retirement from the House of Commons in
1911, when he was created 1st Baron Rowallan, of
Rowallan in the County of Ayr. It was during this time
that he donated the Cameron Corbett Vase to Toryglen
Golf Club. Why he donated the trophy to that particular
golf club is unclear.
Right, Archibald Cameron Corbett, 1st. Baron Rowallan
In 1887, he married Alice Mary Polson, the
daughter of John Polson who was the cofounder
of the corn merchants firm of
Brown & Polson. They had a daughter,
Elsie Cameron and two sons; Thomas
Godfrey Polson and Arthur Cameron who
joined the Royal Naval Air Service and
was killed in 1916. In 1901, the Corbetts
bought the 6,000 acre Rowallan Estate in
Their previous Scottish home at
Rouken Glen was donated to the citizens
of Glasgow as a public park. In 1906, he
also donated the Ardgoil estate to the city
of Glasgow. Archibald Cameron Corbett
died on 19 March 1933.
Isabella Auchinvole married Robert Crawford at Stonelaw Relief Church, Rutherglen, on 8th. June 1841, the day after the
census. The couple then left the parish of Rutherglen, never to return. They worked and lived on farms, initially in
Cathcart, then in a variety of other locations around Glasgow before settling in the parish of Campsie, Stirlingshire. The
1891 census finds them settled with a large family, finally as principal tenants of their own farm, at Balglass, near
In a history of Musselburgh Links by Douglas Seaton, there is reference to a George Gordon, described in 1912 as a golf
club maker from St. Andrews and golf professional at Wannamoisett Country Club, Rumford, Rhode Island. We cannot
be certain that it is the same person, but it is possible that the club maker from Toryglen Golf Club had made his
way, firstly to 'the home of golf', and then across the Atlantic to further his golfing career, as did other accomplished
Scots golfers at that time, becoming a club professional in the USA.
We are very grateful to the following people for their help in compiling this booklet:
George Crawford and Neal Stewart of Haggs Castle Golf Club for their history of the Cameron Corbett Vase and for allowing
us to take photographs of the Vase.
Harry Ward of forgottengreens.com for some excellent content, maps and press cuttings which we gratefully include in this
Zen Boyd of Rutherglen Heritage Centre for her assistance in researching the life of Isabella Auchinvole.
Des Garrity of East Kilbride for allowing us to include the image of the Toryglen Golf Club scorecard.
John McGeachy for letting us photograph the location of Toryglen golf course from his flat.
Allan McAuliffe for providing the photograph of Isabella Auchinvole
Credit is also due to:
* Wikipedia for the biography of Archibald Cameron Corbett.
* golfsmissinglinks.co.uk for the Toryglen Golf Club competition results, etc. which are reproduced in boxes in this booklet.
* National Library of Scotland for their maps. Link: https://maps.nls.uk/index.html
* The Mitchell Library, Glasgow for the census information.
* Jisc Archives Hub for the information on William Dixon Ltd.
* urbanroots.org.uk for the information about Malls Mire Community Woodland.
* The Rutherglen Reformer for the photograph on the front page and of the Toryglen Golf club badge.
* northberwick.org.uk for the information in the footnote about George Gordon.
Above, caricature of William S. Dixon, whose company owned the land at Toryglen Golf Club.
©2018 by Rutherglen Heritage Society