The East Links, the open expanse of ground to the South of the Professional Shop and Golf Clubs, was part of the original golfing ground and pictured below is Old Tom Morris playing a challenge match against Bob Dow, the first Montrose Professional, on that part of the links in the late 19thcentury.
It was a Town Council decision around 1900 to preserve the East Links for leisure and commercial development that forced the golf courses to give up those holes and utilize more land to the North and East. Fortunately for golfers in Montrose, the loss of these parts of the original golfing ground posed few problems as the total links area available in Montrose, perfect for adaptation to golf, was very extensive. So much so, that in the mid-19th century Montrose Links had more holes in play than anywhere else in the world and celebrated that fact in 1866 with the only 25-hole professional golf tournament ever held. Cash prizes on offer in that unique tournament exceeded what the professionals were playing for at the early Opens, and the entry included four past and future Open Champions – William Park, James Anderson, Andrew Strath and Old Tom Morris – who would win eleven Open titles between them. Some renowned golf architects have shaped this wonderful expanse of natural Links into the present superb courses. Over the years the Montrose Links has received care and attention from, amongst others, Old Tom Morris, Willie Park Jnr and Harry Colt. Old Tom devised a circular course that came into play in 1888. The famous hole of the day was called ‘The gully’. It no longer exists but the hollow which bore the name can be seen around the current 16th green on the 1562 course.
Colt’s original layout of the 1562 Course in Montrose remains largely unchanged today apart from a realignment of the 2nd Hole in 2008, designed by Martin Hawtree, in response to coastal erosion, thus visiting golfers have a unique opportunity to play original Colt-designed courses.
The first Golf Club was set up in the town in 1810 by golfers determined to protect their links for future generations of golfers. That encouraged the creation of many different golf clubs, all playing on the same golfing ground. Now, just two clubs, each with its own proud history, which can be researched on their respective websites, survive – the Montrose Caledonia and the Royal Montrose Mercantile Golf Club.  Their members still play on the same courses and now, in association with Angus Council, they appoint Directors to Montrose Golf Links Ltd who manage the courses and welcome visitors from around the world to play the historic links.