Where Is The World’s Oldest Built Golf Clubhouse? France’s Golf du Prieure Boasting Building Built Between 1170 – 1180

There will always be talk of the true origins of golf and, of course, what is the oldest golf club in existence.

My own golf club – Crail Golfing Society – was instituted in 1786 when 11 local gentlemen “fond of the diversion of golf” founded the club in gathering within the walls of the aptly named ‘Golf Hotel’, in the closeby village of Crail while the club still has in its possessions the minutes from that first meeting and every meeting since.

However, a late 2022 article by Golf Monthy placed Crail ninth behind Fraserburgh (7th) that was founded in 1777 while the magazine lists Royal Aberdeen as the eighth oldest, founded in 1780.  Though where Fraserburgh and Royal Aberdeen fall down is that, while they may have been founded earlier, there is no formal record of either club being a recognised golf club prior to 1786.

For the golfing purist, there is other ‘records’ in golf to admire, such as ‘What is the northernmost golf course in the world?’, ‘What is the world’s longest golf course?’ , ‘How many countries play golf?’ and here’s another and that is ‘Who hit the first golf shot on a golf course of 2000 and being the commencement of the 21st century?’

I can answer the last question as I am proud to say it is myself:  http://www.golfbytourmiss.com/2021/01/twenty-one-years-ago-bernies-historic-first-tee-shot-on-a-golf-course-in-tonga/ and it appeared in Scotland’s leading newspaper the Daily Record: https://www.thefreelibrary.com/Golf%3a+Record+writer+hits+the+first+golf+shot+of+2000%3b+BERNIE+IN…-a060846340 

However, just recently I’ve been introduced to another golfing record, and a record I honestly would not have given any thought  – ‘What is the oldest golf clubhouse in the world?’

I was approached in an email by Jean-Francois Baudry, the Vice-President of the Golf du Prieure Club located to the west of Paris.  He wrote to mention that one of the world’s leading golf photographers in Brian Morgan had been showing the club photographs of the course and clubhouse he’d taken on a prior visit to the club. The golf club itself had been founded in the early 1960s and boasts two courses designed by Fred Hawtree (father to Martin), who also designed  Saint Nom La Bretèche in 1959, and a venue, just on the outskirts of Versailles, I have had the pleasure of attending many times for the hosting the Lancome Trophy.

Jean-Francois wrote to me in my role as Secetary of the Association of Golf Writers (AGW) asking if the Association could help out in identifying if the clubhouse buidling at Golf du Prieure is, indeed, the oldest clubhouse in golf.  He did point out the clubhouse at the famed Ardglass club in Northern Ireland is claiming honours as enjoying the oldest clubhouse in the world.

Heading to the Ardglass website it says: “We have the oldest building used as a golf club house in the world. The present building started its existence as a fortified warehouse that operated as a safe haven for 15th century importers and exporters. The initial construction of the castle started no later than 1405 and by the 18th century it was converted into a family home, with a new extension being completed around 1788.

However, as the harbour was in use by the Norman knight, Sir John De Courcy, at the time of his invasion of Ireland in 1177, it is entirely possible that the clubhouse sits on even earlier footings. 

The story of Ardglass Golf Club and links began in 1896, under the leadership of the Rev Thomas MacAfee. The first incarnation was a 7-hole layout with a total length of less than 1000 yards and shoehorned into the area that is now our 1st and 18th fairways”.

Jean-Francois has written again to advise that the R & A indicated: “Sounds like their claim is reasonable.  Nothing in Scotland to match.”

The club, he added, had been in contact with the European Association  of Golf Historians and Collectors and with some of their members also believing the club can boast having the oldest golf clubhouse in the world.

So, this is where the story of the world’s oldest golf clubhouse presently sits.

With avec beeaucoup de remerciements to Jean-Francois and Golf du Prieure let me share some stunning snaps along with a little recent ‘history’ of the club.






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