London Scottish Golf Club near the windmill on Wimbledon Common is the third oldest golf club in England.
It was founded in 1865 by members of the London Scottish Volunteer Rifles (now the London Scottish regiment), who were stationed on the common. Some of the holes were laid out roughly along the lines of rifle ranges. There is evidence to suggest that golf was played on the course for at least two years before the club's formal foundation, which would make London Scottish the longest continually played upon golf course in England.
Originally consisting of seven holes, it was redesigned as an 18-hole course by the club professional Tom Dunn in 1871, thereby becoming only the fourth golf course in the world – and the first in England – to have 18 holes. The redesign came in the same year that the Wimbledon and Putney Commons Act took the common away from the ownership of the 5th Earl Spencer and into public hands.
The London Scottish course hosted the first ever Oxford v Cambridge University golf match in 1878, and the annual fixture was played there for almost two decades until 1896, after which it moved to Royal St Georges in Sandwich.
In 1881 a split within the club between military and civilian members led to the creation by the civilians of what is now Royal Wimbledon Golf Club. The two clubs shared the course until 1907, when Royal Wimbledon members built their own new course just off the common. The following year Wimbledon Common Golf Club was founded, and began to share the old course on the common with London Scottish. That arrangement has continued to the present day. Although the clubs are entirely separate, with their own clubhouses and different starting points, they work together and jointly employ the course green-keeping staff.
Notable members of London Scottish Golf Club have included Arthur Balfour, British prime minister from 1902 to 1905, and Willie Dunn, the first unofficial champion of America in 1894 and runner-up in the first US Open of 1895. George Duncan, Open Champion at Deal in 1920 and victorious captain of the 1929 British Ryder Cup team, was also a member. In 2015, the club's 150th anniversary year, Colin Montgomerie was captain.
The club has had a strong tradition of professionals who have been renowned golf club makers, including John Butchart, Hugh Logan, David Wilson, Spen Attwood and, in the more modern era, Matthew Barr. Since 1992, the former European Tour pro Steve Barr, Matthew's brother, has been the professional at the club.
Unusually, due to local byelaws, all golfers playing on the London Scottish course must wear a pillar box red upper garment. Because of its age and its positioning on a Site of Special Scientific Interest, the course is one of the few in the world to have no sand bunkers. Its wood-panelled clubhouse, which was built in 1897 and is a listed building, is a rare remaining example of a purpose-built Victorian golf pavilion.
The fictional Wombles of Wimbledon Common, created by the British children’s author Elisabeth Beresford, often played golf on the London Scottish course. In The Wombles to the Rescue (first published in 1974) Tomsk, the most accomplished of the golfing Wombles, is reported to have once played the course in level par.