Reasearching your Foundation Year

Research Guidance

To research the foundation of your club, you should look to confirm the following events:

  • The first committee meeting
  • The acquisition of land for the course
  • The construction and opening of the course
  • The building and opening of the clubhouse

Details of these events can often be found in the following sources:

  • Club Minute Books
  • Golfing Annual
  • Nisbet’s Golfing Yearbook
  • Golf /Golf Illustrated
  • Golfer’s Handbook
  • Local newspapers
  • Local authority archives

If you can't find any of these publications locally, they are available at:

The British Library

St Pancras
96 Euston Road
London NW1 2DB

+44 (0)834 208 1144 

National Library of Scotland

57 George IV Bridge

+44 (0) 131 623 3700


Guide to the Source Material

  • Golfing Annual

This provides detailed information on clubs, including their year of foundation, names of Hon. Secretary or Secretary, number of members, entrance fees and so on.  This publication is available up to 1910.

  • Nisbet’s Golfing Yearbook

Similar to Golfing Annual in terms of content, this publication covers the period up to 1914.

  • Golf (which becomes Golf Illustrated)

First published in 1890, this publication often includes articles on opening events or exhibition matches at newly established clubs and can provide interesting background information.

  • Golfer’s Handbook

While an entry in this publication can help to confirm the existence of a club, in its early years there is no specific information on the year of foundation for the clubs listed.  

Handy Hints

  • Try to begin researching your club’s history well in advance of your centenary.  Research can often take longer than anticipated.
  • It is best to look at your own archive first.  It usually provides the best and most accurate details of your own history. 
  • The annuals are also a useful source but will not contain information on all surviving clubs. 
  • Your local library or local authority archive can often provide valuable information, sometimes in the form of local newspapers or through the minutes of planning committees. 
  • If your club has undergone a change of name, or a change of location, it is useful to look for continuity of office bearers and other staff.   Also, if you have trophies that were played for before and after the move, this can also help verify the year of foundation.  
  • For some reason many clubs were founded towards the end of the year.  This can lead to clubs believing they were founded a year later than is actually the case.
  • If there is uncertainty about your foundation year, you can always arrange for your various celebrations to straddle two years.
  • Contact with other clubs also celebrating can be useful especially if they are nearby.  They may be able to suggest good local sources of information or ideas for interesting ways to celebrate.