Golf fans are being offered the unique chance to help complete the funding for a statue in Edinburgh to celebrate the remarkable, little-known-life of John Rattray, the man who signed the first ever Rules of Golf and who went on to tend to Bonnie Prince Charlie.
The Committee of Leith Rules Golf Society (LRGS) have agreed with the City of Edinburgh that a larger than life-size statue of Rattray is installed on Leith Links where the first green of the five-hole course was situated in 1744.
On March 7, 1744, the City of Edinburgh Council provided the Gentlemen Golfers at Leith (now the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers at Muirfield) with a Silver Club on condition they draw up regulations for their competition and rules ‘for the goff’.
The following month Rattray won the first ever competition for the Silver Club, was duly appointed 'Captain of the Goff' and became the sole signatory of the first known written 'Rules of Golf' that have proved to be the foundation of the sport.
As well as being a very fine sportsman, he was also a Fellow of The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. By the time of the battle of Culloden in April 1746, he had become the Personal Physician to Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie). After the battle, Rattray was imprisoned and only personal pleas from Lord Duncan Forbes, Scotland’s most senior judge and a regular golfing partner, saved his life.
David Anderson, who resurrected the 1920s Kingarrock Hickory Golf course near Cupar for the National Trust, has been working with the Committee at Leith to help secure enough funds to enable the installation of the statue to commence and cover the costs of maintenance thereafter.
A limited production of smaller statues of Rattray are now on sale to golf fans interested in supporting the project. They have been designed by David Annand of Kilmany, Fife, the sculptor of the main statue. Fifty 16-inch and 100 11-inch Bronzes are available for purchase, produced at the same Newhaven foundry that has made the statue of John Rattray for Leith Links.
Anderson said: “Despite the significance of this event to the development of the sport, very few golfers have ever heard of Rattray. As a surgeon, champion archer, golfer and personal physician to Bonnie Prince Charlie, he led a notable life. Erection of his statue is long overdue and will be a lasting legacy to the history of this great sport.
“By purchasing one of these uniquely numbered Bronzes, you or perhaps your golf club, will not only be contributing to a worthwhile cause, but you will own a piece of history that will increase in importance and value as the years go by.”
Each statue is accompanied by an A3 Certificate stamped with a wax Sigillum at the bottom right-hand corner just above John Rattray's signature and also presented in Clan Rattray tartan ribbon.
These have already proved popular and Bronzes and Certificates have been delivered to golf enthusiasts in Australia, the USA, Bermuda, Wales and Scotland.
The R&A have generously contributed to the project and have received the very first 16-inch Rattray Bronze in St Andrews, while Sir Nick Faldo raised money by auctioning one of his very rare Pringle pullovers.
The 16-inch Bronze (numbers 1 to 50) is priced at £4,400, with the smaller 11-inch Bronze (numbers 1 to 100) priced at £1,750. All profits go to the LRGS for the installation and maintenance of the main statue in Leith.
“With the new Rules of Golf coming into force in 2019, it’s amazing to realise how crucial the events of 1744 were to today,” added Anderson.
The Bronzes will be on sale at this weekend’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, with David available to meet interested parties at the Old Course Hotel.