John Rattray and the Rules of Golf

The first Rules of Golf were written at Leith, Edinburgh in 1744. An appeal was made to the Town Council of Edinburgh for a Silver Club to be awarded annually to the winner of an ‘Open Golf Competition’. The Council agreed to offer such a prize but only if rules of play were drawn up and so the first-ever recorded written rules of golf were set down and signed by John Rattray. The original rules form the basis of the Rules of Golf we know today. Rattray was a surgeon and served as Surgeon General to Bonnie Prince Charlie’s forces in the 1745 uprising. He was captured at Culloden and sentenced to death for treason. Golf came to his rescue when his golfing partner Lord Duncan Forbes of Culloden secured his release. To recognise the origins of the Rules of Golf and John Rattray’s achievements Leith Rules Golf Society is raising funds to erect a statue of John Rattray on Leith Links, Edinburgh.