Subject: Requested information
Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2000 09:24:16 +0000
From: "Gary Stangoe" <info@speybay.com>
To: <davidduffus@greenvillenc.com>


Sorry we have taken so long to get back to you I have attached all the necessary information Our premier rooms are quite lovely with uninterrupted views over the Moray Firth I have also enclosed a document about the history of Spey Bay We scanned it using OCR and there are various mistakes but I hope you pick up on the reference to the "unfortunate Mr Duffus"

Best Wishes
Gary Stangoe

Golf Outings

 On the Championship Links of Spey Bay

 Designed in 1906 by Ben Sayers, the course opening was performed by two Open Champions and later became the home course of Ramsay MacDonald. Situated on the shores of the Moray Firth enjoying some of the finest sunshine records in the country, sample the delights and challenge of Spey Bay, home to the 2000 Scottish Professional Assistant’s Championship 

2 Round Golf Package

Bacon Roll & Coffee on arrival, soup and sandwich lunch with High Tea and Home Bakes all served in the fully refurbished Spey Bay Hotel where you and your party are assured of a warm welcome.

Only £28 per head £30 Weekends (Limited Availabilty)

 1 Round Golf Package

Soup and sandwich on arrival, with a Steak Supper to complete the perfect afternoon.

Monday – Saturday tee-off time after 1 p.m. Sundays after 2p.m.


Only £20 per head £22 Weekends (limited availability)

 To arrange your Golf outing please contact

Mr Mike Dann
Spey Bay Hotel
Spey Bay
Moray IV32 7PJ
Tel. 01343 820424  Fax. 01343 829282
Email -

Spey Bay Hotel

2000 Tariffs

Bed & Breakfast


Premier Rooms                  Per Night               Per Week

Double                                    £80.00                          £480

Twin                                         £85.00                           £510

Single                                      £60.00                           £360


Standard Rooms

Double                                    £65.00                          £390

Twin                                        £70.00                          £420


If any of the above rooms are

Used as Family Rooms

Extra charge for 3rd and 4th £30.00 per adult

person occupancy                 £10.00 per child


All terms quoted per room include VAT and full Scottish Breakfast. 

All rooms have full central heating, en-suite facilities, tea/coffee making facilities and colour t.v. and telephone. 

An excellent choice of cuisine is available. 

All residents are entitled to golf at £5.00 per day - £25 per week on our 18-hole championship links course.

Spey Bay Golf Course

 Visitor’s Tickets 2000 

 Round of Golf                                 Weekday               £14.00

                                                          Weekend               £16.00

Day Golf                                           Weekday               £20.00

                                                         Weekend               £22.00 

Weekly Golf Pass                                                          £50.00

Adult Members Guest                                                  £10.00 per round

Juniors                                                                             £6.00

Winter Ticket (1st October-31st March)                 £80.00



 (This article contains numerous spelling errors which resulted from scanning. Since I do not have the original, I am unable to make any corrections - webmaster)  

Not a cloud in the sky.  Not a breath of wind.  The sea smooth and blue.  A perfect day.   Indeed, for the first time that year, there were complaints that it was too hot. 

And in other ways no ordinary day either, in fact, the greatest day in Spey Bay's history. 

One of the grandest men in the land, His Grace the Duke of Richmond & Gordon was there, with his Daughter, his Brother, his Brother1s wife and other members of his family;  the local M.P., the Sheriff, the Chief Constable and many eminent people from the area - 3,000 unnamed persons - not forgetting the British Open Champion, Arnaud Massy (a Frenchman from La Boule, who had "Shot athwart the golfing sky") and Sandy Herd an ex Open Champion and Pinder's Circus opportunist cally making the most of it by providing alternative and apres-golf entertainment, while Nilnes Secondary School, 5 miles away in Fochabers, was given a holiday.  No Golf Course yet made, said the Banffshire Advertiser, had a send off equal to it. 

"From lOam for 2 hours without cessation, a formidable array of cars and motor cycles passed down to the camping ground, cyclists were legion, Mr Edgar's motor was constantly on the road between Fochabers and Thgnet.   From Fochabers-on-Spey railway station (later Spey Bay) off the Aberdeen and the Inverness trains which crossed at 10.40 there debouched a solid phalanx of 600 people moving in dense procession to the Course" - "a well-dressed and gay looking throng", most unlikely to trouble P C Pir of Fochabers and his colleague who had been detailed by the Chief Constable of Elginshire "to help in regulating the play'. 

By 11.15 they had formed up in a semi-circle in front of the newly completed Hotel (less than half its final size) with the three poled luncheon marquee alongside. 

His Grace, the Duke of Richmond & Gordon with his Daughter, Lady Helen (later to become the Duchess of Northumberland) and Lord Walter and Lady Gordon Lennox moved forward.   "with his Kodak, the Duke took panoramic pictures of the crowd'T, there were too, a number of professional photographers, "and snapshottists lurking throughout". 

Remarking that he had never dreamt of such a splendid course or such an enormous crowd, the Duke declared the Course open.  Next, Provost Archibald of Buckie, first reassuringly pointed out that, if the worst came to the worst, a lost ball provided a mystery, which created fascination, while a miss, being as good as a mile, would be an unsurpassable drive.  Then he presented Lord Walter, the Duke's Brother with a silver mounted "driver club", made by C Brand of Carnoustie and a White Flyer Ball and called on him to play the opening shot.   Lord Walter who had a few days before played for a Nairn 4 ifl the Northern Counties Cup hit a beautiful low ball and later played a round with MrDalgleish, the Nairn Professional. 

In the marquee, all the eminent people of the two Counties sat down to luncheon provided by Jimmy Hay of the Royal Atheraeum, Aberdeen and Niss Hutchison, the owner of the new Hotel, a Dallachy native, who, at 3 Correction Wynd, Aberdeen -opposite Marks & Spencers - had run the Richmond Cafe, now Nitchell and Mail's. 

In the course of the toasts the Chairman proclaimed that nothing could be more generous than the Duke's arrangement that the annual rental, to run for 25 years, be exactly what he had recently paid for one round at Lossiemouth - namely 2/6 and slipped in the suggestion that when King Edward VII was next his guest at Gordon. 

Castle, the Duke should drop in his ear the hint that a round on Spey Bay might prove to his liking. 

The Duke in replying claimed that he looked forward to all the feu duty that would come to him from the villas that even then had begun to go up near the course, but would give no assurance about persuading the King. 

The Professionals 

They had played a round the previous afternoon and pronounced the course one of exceptional promise.  The greens were already excellent, they were built of sea-washed turf from an island near the mouth of the Spey and the preceding summer, depressingly wet - yes, in those good old days - had produced tremendous growth. Herd is recorded as having been on the 193 yard 4th with a brassie and getting a 3 at the 369 yard 5th.  After the game "they mounted a 60 h.p. car belonging to a friend who had come over from Cruden Bay" to drive to Buckie where, appropriately, they put up at the Cluny Hotel - now like Spey Bay Hotel, owned by Mr Christie. 

On the big day, their first match was "Hole Play".  Herd, short with his approaches and unlucky with his putts, played below form in the inward half and lost 3 & 1. In the second game, "Stroke Play" Herd after the 6th went completely off his game and Massy won by 11 strokes, going round in 74 - on a course not very different from the present day off the ordinary tees and using the primitive clubs and balls of that time.  The Banffshire Advertiser, whose proprietor was a leading golfer, describes their approaches as exceedingly accurate and their drives perfect always -even going so far as to say they went 230 yards.  Herd's caddy was our very helpful friend George Riach, who had worked on the clearing and creation of the course from the day after he left school at Bngmoo;~. 

Staying another night in the Cluny, they drove in "the car" over to Strathpeffer -

where Herd completely redeemed himself by being 7 up after 18 holes and 8 up over 36. 

In the amateur Tournament next day a semi finalist was W J B MacDonald, Buckie the Father of the well-known Press and Journal Sportswriter, Alistair MacDonald. 

The locality - and Golf 

The greatest day in the history of Spey Bay", I said earlier.  To be truthful, it had no history, there had been no such place even when the course was being planned, the Club had started off as Thgnet Golf Club the little community was, and is, known as Tugnet.   In 1905 it consisted of perhaps a dozen buildings. 

The site of the course had always been known as "The Links" - the word means sandy undulating ground at a flattish part of the coast, covered by turf and whins - often becoming to nearby town, so, not a golf course, but, because of its nature and ownership admirably fitted for that use. 

The area next the~ sea provided a ~ what was to be the outward per of the course was 5' olidly covered by four-foot-high whins. 

Golf was not an innovation to the locality.  There were courses at Lossiemouth, Cullen (extended to 18 in 1905), Buckie (originating in 1877 where the shipyards are now then moving to Strathlene), Keith, Gordon Castle and Elgin (9 holes, opened in the same year as Spey Bay).  The Garmouth people who had been contemplating a Course west of their Village, joined in with Spey Bay instead. 

And, of course, the Kirk Session records of Cullen reveal that "James and George Duffus and George Stevinson were convict in break of the Sabboth for playing at the Golf efternoone, in time of sermone" - in 1641. 

First Moves 

The visionaries who took the first step were the Buckie Golf Club, whose Course was at Stathlene - the part south of the road, including the Caravan Site below. 

They set up a Committee of 12 - 3 each from Buckie, Portgordon, Spey Bay, Fochabers and Garmouth - 4 of them Teachers   They sent their proposals to the Duke who replied enthusiastically within a week, saying that he had often hoped someone would take this initiative - and offered to take 150 shares.  This persuaded them to go ahead.  There was to be a public limited Company, Tugnet Golf Club (soon shrewdly and inventively changed to Spey Bay Golf Club), with a capital of £2,000 in £1 shares - a very substantial sum indeed.  But £1,100 paid for all the work - up to 45 men were employed - and a generous quantity of equipment. 

The Committee aimed at establishing "a first class green, second to none Scotland, to attract a first-class patronage".  There are hints, fairly that the Great North Railway Company had considered the site before they Cruden Bay.

 The Designer

 The designing of the Course was given to Ben Sayers, Sen. who did the job on 6th October 1906 - in the afternoon.  He spent 2 hours walking the ground with Office Bearers who showed him the boundaries and put forward their suggestions.

 Then accompanied only by Robert Marr, a North Berwick man, who on his recommendation became Head Greenkeeper, having with them a bundle of red & white flags, he laid out the course - in 2~21 hours.  Perhaps he would have liked longer, but it may have been getting dark. 

"He drove through the Committee-men's preconceived ideas with a four-in-hand, his deviations were awe-inspiring to the uninitiated.  He planted flags for greens far in masses of whins (which covered the in land half of the course).  But now (1907) critic is totally disarmed. His placing of holes can scarcely be challenged.  His afternoon work put an additional feather in his headdress 

And today's course is largely as he designed it.  The Northern Scot's verdict:  "Though rather far from Elgin, a formidable rival for Lossiemouth - the area's top Course 


Both enterprises - the Course and the Hotel - look like enormous gambles.  There could only be a tiny local membership, many traveled the few miles by train, walking ~3 mile down from the station.  But success came quickly   The railways brought well-to-do holidaymakers in large numbers -'as they did to Cruden Bay, Lossiemouth, Nairn' aha Dornoch. 

When cars developed, growth continued and the Hotel kept growing.  The Daimlers, Lanchesters and Ninervas glided in and out.  After dinner, the ladies in their long dresses, the men in their dinner suits, strolled in the evening air, perfumed with car smoke and the slow navy serge Chauffeurs, in little groups did similarly. 

In the mid twenties~Ramsay MacDonald played regularly here and presented the Club with an extremely valuable Cup.  But all was not idyllic.  Long before the 1926

General Strike, trouble came to Spey Bay.  In 1913, in total disregard of the National interest through 100% solidarity, a rise of 17% was wrung in minutes from the authorities - by the boy caddies, who, from as far as Portgordon, assembled daily to the numbker of 40.  The 20 or so golfer queuing to start play enjoyed it all - while the caddymaster scowled as he altered all the tickets in his roll - from 6d to 7d. 

Incidentaly Miss Hutchison, the Hotel perhaps during the First War.  When troops and mines were laid along the 

Post War 

owner, gained control of the course very early, war came in 1939, the Hotel was filled with shingle bank at the shore. 

After 1946 everything changed.  The pattern of holiday making for the well-to-do altered - as Cruden Bay, Strathpeffer and Dornoch discovered.  The course had inevitably been neglected although the Hotel did reasonable business.

 In the 30's, at nearby Buckie, Strathlene had been extended to 18 holes and Buckpool had opened and Garmouth just across the Spey and in the 60's Keith - all affecting membership. 

In 1965 the main Hotel building was burned down.  A succession of owners had in the surviving out-buildings managed to keep the Hotel & Course going. 

With the arrival of Mr. George Christie as owner of the Hotel his known enthusiasm and record of past achievements and the transformation he has promptly made in and ~~round the Hotel buildings, including the extensive section put at the disposal of golfers, there came a resurgence of confidence among existing and potential members and with an excellent Greenkeeper, the Course has come on enormously. 

In working hours, the Course is almost free of golfers, it provides always good clean footing, it quickly absorbs any quantity of rain, in winter it is often clear and playable when a mile or two inland the ground is white with snow or hoar.  It is a Course where skill and accuracy are required, though length has its rewards. 

A sunlit day in late spring, past yellow walls of whins, playing out on the rolling heather fairways of the first five holes, singing larks spiraling above or later ban~of bell heather, then ling, and after them, all the varied grasses of the rough, the high peaks of Ben Aigen and Ben Rinnes up the Spey valley and the even curve of the nearer hills swinging from the Teindland all the way round to the dumpling Bin of Cullen, the spires of Buckie and the white chalkstick of the harbour light, Portgordon perhaps buried in a cloud of spray.  Then turning homeward, now close to the sea, on the carpet of fine gcass, with areas spread with seapinks and thyme, perhaps flights of probing oystercatchers keeping just ahead, the heights of Garmouth and the Bin in front and looking over the water to Lossiemouth, high on its jutting headland, miraged occasionally on a very hot day and across the Firth the whole sweep of theblue hills of Sutherland & Caithness with the anvil of Morven peering over them opening gently eastwards.to the.horizon. 

On land belonging to the Crow - designed by Ben Sayers - opened by a Duke and two Open Champions - home Course of a Prime Minister. 

Alistair Sinclair