The History of Leith

October 7, 2004

Scottish Golf History

Several authorities cite the ‘secrecy’ of the Freemasons for the ‘absence’ of early Scottish golf history records, particularly of the Royal Burgess, but the argument and evidence for these claims are weak. The main reason that the members of early golf clubs were Freemasons was because virtually all middle class men of ability in Scotland in the century after 1717 were Freemasons from senior law officers to skilled artisans as well as poets and writers. (Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott were masons). This was apparently because, from 1717, the Scottish ‘stonemason’ Freemasons, called Operative Masons, began to allow merchants and professional people, termed Speculative Masons, to join Lodges or create their own. This practice spread elsewhere in the world. For example, in France Voltaire became a Mason as did George Washington who was buried with full Masonic honours in America.

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