Musselburgh Heroes


Fiery who’s real name was John Carey, was so called because of his ruddy face.

He was one of the most famous caddies in the history of golf and was, what could be described as, a professional caddie. Willie Park Junior never played in an important match, home or away, without his famous caddie.

Fiery was always attired in his Balmoral bonnet and was a man of few words. He never gave the golfer full credit for his shots or match. He rarely congratulated or praised but indicated his approval by a slight but significant nod of the head. He had a fairly stern expression, which rarely ever changed, even in big matches when everyone was milling around and getting excited.

Unlike many caddies of the day he was well spoken and well-mannered. He was in great demand and caddied for many of the distinguished amateurs and professionals of his time.


The Dunns

The Dunn twins, Jamie and Willie Senior were born in Musselburgh in 1821. They both took up employment with the Gourlay family as apprentice ballmakers at Bruntsfield.

They both played in many challenge matches between 1840-1860. Willie Dunn was keeper of the green at Blackheath Links until 1864 when he returned to Leith Thistle before settling at North Berwick.

Willie had two sons who were Tom and Willie Junior. Young Willie served as professional at Westward Ho! for a few months in 1886, before moving to Biarritz. It was while he was in France that the Vanderbilt family invited him to Shinnecock Hills on Long Island as greenkeeper and professional. The course was a 12 holer to which Willie added a ladies course and then in 1895 combined the two into 18 holes. Willie remained at Shinnecock for several years and won the first unofficial US Open in 1894.


Willie Campbell

Willie was born on 14th July 1862 in Musselburgh.

Working as a caddie he caught the eye of Bob Ferguson, who taught Willie the finer points of the game and was sure that one day Willie would win the Open. His great moment came in 1886 when he was in a strong position playing the last nine holes at Musselburgh, but drove into Pandy bunker and took seven, losing the championship by two strokes.

He played his first big money match in 1884 winning by seven holes over Musselburgh and St Andrews. He then played a series of six matches against J.O.F. Morris in 1885-86 winning all but one.

He emigrated to the USA in March 1894, where he gained fame as an instructor and player. He lost the first unofficial US Open by two shots in 1894 to Willie Dunn.

That same year he became the first professional at the Country Club, Brookline Massachusetts. He established the foundations of its present course and planned other courses in the North East of America. His designs were very basic, completed in a matter of hours or days, but he was among the earliest to design golf courses in America. He moved onto Myopia Hunt Club in 1896 and then in 1897 was put in charge of the public links at Franklin Park, Boston.

Willie’s wife Georgina Campbell was the first ladies golf professional in the USA. Mrs Campbell followed in her husband’s footsteps as instructress at Franklin Park in 1900, she had previously assisted him in the shop and in teaching the ladies. She also found time to instruct at Wellington Hill a spot adjoining the public links. It was nothing for her to be up at 6am and to teach until darkness fell.


John Gourlay

Gourlay was famed as a feather ball maker. He was not only the greatest authority on the rules of golf, but had a perfect style as a player, and as a man was held in the highest respect. For years he managed the course at Musselburgh, saw to the greens being mowed, and the holes renewed when they grew rugged and uneven. His house in Millhill Street was the haunt of many choice amateurs who made up their matches, recorded their wagers and kept their clubs there.

The Gourlay family acquired great fame as ballmakers. They operated at the Bruntsfield Links before going to the Royal Musselburgh Golf Club. The Gourlay name was known throughout the British Isles by the middle of the eighteenth century and a ‘gourlay’ became an accepted synonym for the best set of balls - to the extent of using the name in poetry and song.

The Royal Musselburgh Golf Club has six highly prized specimens and one was donated by William Currie the then captain of the club, to the U.S.G.A. Museum and Library. It bears the name ‘Dougla’ on one side and ‘Gourlay’ on the other side.


The McEwan Family

The McEwan family business of clubmaking started as far back as 1770. James McEwan set up his business at Leith around 1770 and was to be the first of six generations of the family engaged in clubmaking.

James was succeeded in the family business by his son, Peter, who married a daughter of Douglas Gourlay, the ballmaker. Peter’s son Douglas took over the business and was then followed by the great-grandson of James, Peter. Peter’s son, Douglas and great-great-grandson of James, carried on the traditional craft, while Peter McEwan, his son, also a clubmaker and professional, was the great-great-great-grandson of the founder.

This was a unique family totally involved in professional golf, who though they were principally clubmakers were also first-class players.

McEwan’s factory at Musselburgh in the latter part of the last century was a hive of industry and many of the finest clubmakers served their time there. Peter McEwan, the last of six generations, was professional at Nairn for many years and prior to that was at Preston and Barassie.