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Antique Golf Clubs from Scotland
James Gourlay
A renowned maker of iron heads with a crescent moon and star cleekmark, James Gourlay was born in Carnoustie in 1860. He began as a blacksmith expanding into cleek making which was the predominant part of the business at the time of his death although general blacksmithing work was still done by the firm then and after his death.

In addition to heads for the firm’s own use, it produced them for Robert Simpson in the town with an anchor cleek mark. Gourlay also made Vaile swan-neck putters for F H Ayres in London who held the patent on this design.

The company turned out a huge range of irons, ‘ordinary, diamond-backed, concentrated, round-backed, deep-faced etc plain or with corrugation' proclaimed a 1908 advertisement, which also offered ‘Gourlay’s patent irons’ though I am as yet unaware what aspect of their design was patented.

Like Simpson, James Gourlay was a Carnoustie town councillor but his early death at the age of 48 meant he only served two years in that capacity.

An incident in his forge in 1907 illustrates one of the dangers in clubmaking. A new grinding stone, without guards and possibly running too fast, left its mountings and killed one clubmaker, John Farquharson Murray and injured another, David Morris. Murray’s daughter and father both sought financial support under the Workmen’s Compensation Act. The judge found Murray's father was not dependent on him and awarded only the funeral expenses of £5 10s. Margaret, his daughter, was awarded £144 10s but Gourlay took this to the Court of Session, Scotland’s highest court, the following year to contest the amount.

Later that year, in December, Gourlay was also dead after an operation on a duodenal ulcer at Dundee Royal Infirmary. An announcement was made in the local papers that the business would be continued by his widow Mrs Christina Burness or Gourlay ‘for her own behoof, under the old name of James Gourlay’. He had a son, also James, listed as a blacksmith who worked in the firm until he emigrated to Canada in 1925.

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