Willie Campbell
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Monday, 01 December 2008 19:04

Willie Campbell (1862-1900) 

Born: July 14, 1862, Musselburgh, Scotland

Died: November 25, 1900, Boston, Massachusetts

Musselburgh (1880 - 1885), Prestwick (1886 - 1888), Bridge o'Weir (1889 - 1891) 

"Campbell was a Musselburgh lad who was born in 1862. Working as a caddie, he caught the eye of Bob Ferguson who helped young Willie develop his game. He is, un-fortunately but in the truest sense of Scottish equanimity, best remembered for his most tragic hour. In the Open Championship of 1887, he was comfortably leading the field when a tee shot found a deep bunker. With a recalcitrance toward playing backward he turned an easy four into a nine. In history, that fatal mistake obscured the greatness of his record at match play.


He was not involved in as many big money matches as some other players but when head to head against the likes of Willie Park, JR., Jimie Morris, Ben Sayers, Willie Dunn and all the other cracks of the day, he was a tiger. Given a large gallery and a hard match he was in his glory.

 Unfortunately, his health suffered toward the end of the 189Os and his competitive regimen was greatly reduced. In 1894 he migrated to America where he eventually became the professional to The Country Club, Brookline, Massachusetts. He died in Boston in 1900, never having recovered to full fitness."

The above quote from Peter Georgiady (sp?), Compendium of British Club Makers pages 59/60, published by Aislie Hall Press, Greensboro, North Carolina; 1994.


"Born in Musselburgh, Scotland, Willie Campbell planned courses in the British Isles before emigrating to the United States in the early 1890s. He quickly gained fame as an instructor and as a player. He lost the first unofficial U.S. Open in 1894 by two shots to Willie Dunn. That same year he became the first professional at The Country Club. Brookline, Massachusetts, where he established the foundations of its present course and presided over one of its expansions. Later, while serving as summer pro at Essex CC in Manchester, Massachusetts, he planned other courses in the Northeast.


Willie Campbell's designs were very basic routings, done in a mater of hours or days, but he was among the earliest to design golf courses in America.


Courses by Willie Campbell:

 Massachusetts: Oakley CC (9 1898, NLE); Tatnuck CC (9 1899, NLE); [The Country Club (9 1893,A.3 1895).New Hampshire: Beaver Meadow GC (9 1897)Pennsylvania: Torresdale -Frankford CC (9 1895)Rhode Island: Wannamoisett CC (9 1899, NLE)England: Seascale OC (9 1892)

Scotland: Machrie Hotel GC (9 1891)**

 Courses remodelled or expanded by Willie Campbell***Massachusetts: William F. Devine GC [FNA Franklin Park GC] (R.1900)

The above information from Geoffrey S Cornish and Ronald E. Whitten, The Architects of Golf: A Survey of Golf Course Design from Its Beginnings to the Present, With an Encyclopaedic Listing of Golf Architects Harper Collins 2nd Edition, 1993.


Campbell is also credited with designing Cowal Golf Club ( www.cowalgolfclub.co.uk )

 "Plumbing, which is to say your own private plumbing, comes dear at Machrie. Golf on the other hand, comes cheapThe game has been played here at Machrie for more than a hundred years. It was in 1891 that Willie Campbell, another member of the Musselburgh school, laid out the course. Donald Steel, brought in to revise it in the late 1970's early 1980's, worked out some of the kinkier kinks, but it is still unique among the first rate courses of the world: par is 71, and of the 35 full shots thus to be played by a low-handicap golfer, 9 are likely to be blind!Yes, it is excessive, this astounding eighteen at Machrie. But I insist that the excess is justified, first on the grounds of sheer golfing fun (to say nothing of the challenge to both our psyche and our swing!) And second on historical grounds. The course is a bona fide relic, not so old as North Berwick or Prestwick, but, like them both, a price-less example of the way golf courses were brought into being." P 94-100The above quote from James W Finegan, Blasted Heaths and Blessed Greens: A Golfer's Pilgrimage to the Courses of Scotland (Simon and Schuster, 1996). 


Last Updated on Monday, 01 December 2008 19:28