It’s coming yet for a’ that

No, not a tribute to the Bard and his call for egalitarianism in his revolutionary poem A Man’s A Man For A’ That, although we increasingly look forward to the day when this ghastly, dysfunctional, unrepresentative, sense-of-entitlement “government” in London collapses. And while we’re at it, we can look forward to the day we get rid of the government in Holyrood, with its sustained attacks on professionals such as teachers, Transport Police, and local government in general. Aye, it’s coming yet…

No what I’m meaning here is the arrival of a new visitor on Leith Links, a statue of the signatory to the first written rules of golf in 1744: none other than Dr John Rattray. He strode the Links, winning the Silver Arrow in the annual archery competition and the Silver Club in the first ever golf competition. His part, and Leith’s place, has been written out of golfing history. But after sterling work on the part of Leith Rules Golf Society, Leith is reclaiming its heritage.

Leith Links is long-beloved turf. It is the oldest stretch of open land in Scotland that is protected by Act of Parliament. Badly hooked shots from the first tee of the eighteenth-century course would break windows in Wellington Place. St Andrews’ boast to be “The Home of Golf” is not a claim to the historical origins of the game. The eighteenth-century golfers drank copious quantities of claret in the Leith howffs, which is the origin of the Claret Jug, the most coveted trophy in world golf as the prize for The Open wherever in Britain it is played. Leith is home to an extraordinary collection of golfing firsts: in chronological order, the first recorded game; the first club; the first port of export of golf equipment; the first rules; the first competition for a prize; the first international challenge match; the first club house; and the first professionals’ tournament. Golf is Leith’s gift to the world.

Dr John will be arriving later this year or possibly next year. I saw the statue at the Powderhall foundry last night at the LRGS Annual General Meeting. This is going to be huge. It will pull in tourists from around the world. There’ll be books, maps, hotels, tour buses, and all. Bring them on. It’s coming yet…