Born in Earlsferry (beside Elie) in 1866, he was, as a schoolboy, the favourite caddy of Sir Alexander Grant, Principal of Edinburgh University, who often played at Earlsferry. Frequently, Grant played with his young caddie as a partner using the one set of clubs (what, no committee to stop that sort of thing?) giving Archie great preparation for his future career.
What a generation of young players Elie and Earlsferry produced then. Bernard Darwin, in his biography of James Braid, writes of him being promoted to the senior championship at the age of nine and facing Archie aged all of twelve or thirteen! Archie had to give him eight strokes at that time but still won by two.
Now we look back at professionals' records in major championships but in Archie’s times it was all about high-stakes matchplay. He made a huge success of this but the most famous was one he lost, played over four courses for a stake of £100, to Willie Campbell.
Archie’s first professional appearance was at Leven at the age of 18 when he took second prize behind his brother Jack, that year’s Open Champion.
He was runner-up in the Open Championship in 1885 and 1890. Was professional at the famous Royal Aberdeen course between 1894 and 1911, Royal Isle of Wight, 1890-1891, Prestwick, 1892-1893 and Carnoustie, 1891-92, 1893-94 and again in 1921. He spent 1911-1921 in the USA then returned to Carnoustie for a year. He went back to Detroit in 1922 and oversaw the laying out of the course at Vincennes CC in Indiana. He was pro here for a couple of years and then moved to Tam O'Shanter in Detroit and Clovernook in Cincinnati. He retired to Detroit where he died in 1955.
He has been credited with laying out Royal Aberdeen at Balgownie, Nairn, Cruden Bay and Murcar There is truth, half-truth and downright confusion in that which I have explored further in an extended article in the Scottish Golf History section of the site.
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