Established in 1927, Hilton Park Golf Club is an amalgamation of "The Glasgow North Western Golf Club" at Ruchill and the "Bankhead" club at Scotstounhill. These clubs were dispossessed of their courses by the Greater Glasgow Housing Association, for new home developments. "Auldmarroch Estate" was offered, along with Milngavie Golf Club (which was sold back to Milngavie Golf Club) by the Duke of Montrose. Hilton Park was designed by James Braid, the eminent golf professional and course architect, in 1927 and opened for play in September 1928. Measuring 6,700 yards, it was a monster in its time, with a C.S.S. of 78! It was said to be the only course of its day with a par 6.
The Allander course, also designed by James Braid, was established in 1927 and opened for play in September 1928. The course remains unchanged today. In November 1929, James Braid was called back in to shorten and redesign the Hilton course as it was proving too long and strenuous for our members, It was reduced to 6,100 yards and the par 6 disappeared. Over more recent years Hilton Park's two courses have enjoyed some design improvements and much tree planting. The results are the courses you see today.
Welcome to Hilton Park - by Murray Ritchie
When you step on to the first tee at Hilton Park Golf Club you are only a dozen or so miles from the centre of Glasgow and yet you will find yourself surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery anywhere in the United Kingdom. Hilton Park sits in the foothills of the Scottish Highlands on the edge of Rob Roy country where the dashing Highland outlaw fought many of his famous battles. Today, more than three centuries after his birth, the natural wild appearance of much of the surrounding landscape has changed little. From various vantage points you can see several Highland Bens including Lomond, Venue, More, Ledi and Vorlich and close by, in the Campsie Fells, there is "Glasgow's hill", Dumgoyne, which is a familiar landmark for miles around. Looking south over Glasgow with its spires and gleaming modern office blocks you can see Tinto Hill and, turning eastwards on a clear day, almost as far as Edinburgh. So, as you do battle with Hilton Park it is useful to act on the famous advice of Walter Hagen who said golfers should always take time in life to stop and smell the flowers.
Hilton Park has its roots in Glasgow itself. Between the wars when there was an urgent need for land for new housing the members of two well-established Glasgow golf clubs were told by the city fathers to relinquish their courses so that the land could be acquired for a huge building programme. Thus the Glasgow North Western Golf Club and the Bankhead Golf Club went out of existence. Their members resolved, however, to amalgamate and to search for high-amenity land suitable for conversion to a replacement golf course of the highest quality. They agreed to buy a large area of unspoilt moor and hill land which had been in the possession of the Montrose family for generations. James Braid, one of the most eminent golf professionals of his day, was invited in his other capacity as a famous golf course architect to design 18 holes which he did with great enthusiasm. Braid was impressed not just with the natural appeal of the area but with its obvious potential for golf. His capabilities were demonstrated in the plan he produced which had the effect of keeping play on mainly flat fairways running over hilly terrain while at the same time according golfers views of the surrounding and dramatic scenery. One of James Braid's fellow members of the Great Triumvirate, J. H. Taylor, of Messrs Hawtree and Taylor, was commissioned to construct the course under Braid's personal supervision.
In June, 1928, Hilton Park opened for play (the club's second course, the Allander, also designed by Braid, being opened three months later) and the official opening came on September 8 of that year when an exhibition match was played by Braid and Taylor along with Stewart Burns and a rising star of the professional game called Henry Cotton. In later years most of Britain's best known players including, on one occasion most of the British and Irish Ryder Cup team which triumphed over the United States in 1957 at Lindrick, have sampled the pleasures of Hilton Park in important tournaments.
One professional's name is inextricably linked with Hilton Park's history. The late Jimmy McCondichie from Maryhill in Glasgow did not begin golfing until he was 18. Five years later he joined the Canniesburn Club and promptly won its championship. A year later he joined Windyhill Golf Club, a few miles south of Hilton Park, and went on to win its championship nine times in a row. He was a member of the old North Western club until it closed at which time he became a founder member of Hilton Park, winning the club championship in each of the three times he entered. So fine a player was Jimmy that it was almost inevitable he should become Hilton Park's club professional. In that capacity he served for more than 40 years becoming the club's most kenspeckle and loved character in the process. Jimmy McCondichie's greatest moment came in 1947 when he won the Scottish professional championship at Luffness. Forty years later he could remember every shot he played as though it had all happened the day before. Jimmy's son, Billy McCondichie, succeeded to the job as professional at Hilton Park, thus maintaining the long family connection with the club. Billy was around Hilton Park as man and boy for 50 years until his retirement in 2006. Together, the McCondichie father and son contributed almost a century to Hilton Park, a record which few clubs could boast.
But Hilton Park today is much changed from the early Braid days. During the war much of the course was closed and used for military purposes. When petrol became unobtainable some of the more determined members still managed to get there from Glasgow by horse-drawn bus! Nine of Hilton Park's pre-war holes never reopened and the course was redesigned. This later layout is the one which you will play today. In the past 30 years tens of thousands of fir trees have been planted to give shelter from the winds which are often a factor at Hilton Park and much has been done to improve drainage. Now the club is pursuing a policy of introducing more broad-leaved trees. The effect has been to transform a moorland course to more of a parkland layout.
If you take Hagen's advice you will have the chance not just to smell flowers and admire scenery but also to spot wildlife. Hilton Park is home to a wide variety of birds including curlews, owls, herons, kestrels and buzzards. Of the game variety pheasant and partridge can be seen commonly all over the courses. On the surrounding hills and on the courses you can see roe deer. You will enjoy your day here because you will be in a beautiful part of Scotland, the home of golf, among friendly people. Welcome.