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Antique Golf Clubs from Scotland
Robbie Mearns jnr
The “new” course at Aboyne (previously they played on the village’s overcrowded green) opened with 9 holes in 1905. It was extended to 18 holes to a design by Archie Simpson and opened by the Earl of Aberdeen at a ceremony in September 1908. Simpson brought along Robbie Mearns jnr, an assistant at Balgownie, a son of Robbie Mearns, caddy, professional and instructor at that club and before at the town links for many years, to play with him in the opening foursome.

Frank Downie is listed as the professional at Aboyne from this point until the 1930s but his job was really greenkeeper. Most of the land for sport in the village had been gifted by the Aboyne Castle estate and the proprietor of that estate (another Mr Mearns, no relation) referred to Downie as the head warden at the opening of the tennis courts in 1926 as the ‘head warden’ as he looked after the golf course, the tennis courts and the bowling green.

Robbie Mearns jnr came to the club in 1910 and is regularly described as professional from then until the start of the First World War. A purse was put up for him to play against George Smith (standing in for his business partner Alec Marling) as part of a representative match of Upper Deeside against Deeside clubs in 1910. He played in the big Cruden Bay tournament of 1911 and is described as ‘the local professional’ when setting a new course record of 61 for Aboyne in 1913.

I have yet to see a club marked “Aboyne” so am unaware as to whether either Mearns or Downie made clubs or stamped their name on them.

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