As has been said, the people of Ellon had wanted a golf course for a long time, but now they had both a golf course and a recreational park.
When the park and golf course were completed, Sir James offered to lease both to the Town Council - an offer that was readily accepted. However the lease was conditional upon the council maintaining both the golf course and the park, to standards set by him.
The enthusiasm of the Ellon people to have their own golf course can be gauged from the fact that, within six months of the announcement that Sir James had bought the land, they had raised £550 through various fund raising activities, such as whist drives, sales of work, dances, raffles, bridge evenings and so on. In today’s money terms that is the equivalent of more than £20,000 - a staggering effort. This was sufficient to finance the laying out of the course and the purchase of some essential equipment.
Sir James was so impressed by the efforts of the general public that he offered the use of the two front rooms in the house he had built for his parents - by now both dead - to provide changing facilities for the members. He retained the rest of the house to store his shooting equipment.
This arrangement continued for the best part of 10 years, when a wooden hut, which was known as the Pavilion, was built adjacent to the house, and although it was sometimes used to hold club meetings, its main purpose was to provide catering facilities for visiting teams playing inter-club matches. Once again the ladies were responsible for raising the money to pay for the Pavilion, although it would be reasonable to assume that this time, the ladies were most likely club members.
A further 30 years would pass before the club had what could be termed, ‘a proper club house’.
It is amazing to realise that although the course had been under construction for eight months, the meeting to form a club and appoint officials did not take place until little more than a week before the official opening. Nevertheless that was the case and on the evening of Monday May 23 1927, a public meeting - described in the local press as “well attended” - was held in the local secondary school.
Provost Milne of the Ellon Town Council chaired the meeting. A motion that a golf club be formed was proposed by Baillie Walker and seconded by Mr A H Reid of Hillhead Farm, Ellon. The motion was, of course, passed unanimously and the election of the McDonald Ellon Golf Club’s first officials then took place.
Mr A H Reid was elected the first captain of the McDonald Ellon Golf Club, with Mr A F Robertson of the Clydesdale Bank in Market Street as Secretary/Treasurer. These were the only officials to be appointed at that meeting.
A little later Messrs H J Alexander, W Alexander, W G Hardie, G C Milne, V Munro, J W Paul, J H Reid, and the Rev. R Dunnet were elected to the committee.
Later still the "Greens Committee" was appointed and it consisted of the captain, along with Messrs Hardie and Milne. Now the term Greens Committee is a little misleading. Today, the Greens Committee is a sub committee of the club council and, as such, is responsible for the maintenance and development of the golf course, in conjunction with the head green keeper.
However, in those early days of the McDonald golf club, and indeed for many years thereafter, the Greens Committee was responsible for all aspects of the day-to-day management and running of the golf club.
The committee then considered how the newly formed club could best acknowledge Sir James’ extraordinary generosity. Its gratitude would be expressed in two ways.
Firstly, he would become the club’s Honorary President, a position he would hold for his lifetime and one which would not be filled on his death. His close friend and companion Mr Henry Herrington would become Vice-President.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly as far as Sir James was concerned, it was decided that the club would henceforth be known as the “McDonald Ellon Golf Club”. There can be little doubt that with his great love for his native town, and his pride in donating both a recreational park and a golf course to the people of Ellon, he would have derived great satisfaction from this decision. The name "McDonald" is sometimes omitted from the title of the club; in recognition of the part played by Sir James in establishing a golf course for the people of Ellon the full title should always be used.
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Saturday 23rd November
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