the Dunn Twins

THE Dunn twins, Jamie and William Sen., were born in 1821 at Musselburgh and were sons of a plasterer. They both took up employment with Gourlay as apprentice ballmakers at Bruntsfield. ‘Willie gained a reputation as a fine player and in 1851 was the first Scottish professional to cross the border, being appointed “Keeper of the Green” at Blackheath, where he stayed for fourteen years. He was joined by his brother Jamie in 1854. Willie had been apprenticed as a feather ball maker but following his move to Blackheath and during his latter time at Musselburgh he started making gutta balls. The gutta ball he made at Blackheath must have been of a high standard as they were also supplied to the Edinburgh Burgess Society. In 1865 Willie moved from Blackheath to Leith and in 1869 he became “Club and Ballmaker and Custodian of the Green” to the Leith Thistle Golf Club. In 1871 he moved to Musselburgh to set up a clubmaking business, and subsequently moved to North Berwick where he died the same year. Willie had two sons who were Tom and Willie Jun. Willie Jun. was born at Blackheath in 1865 and emigrated to America where in 1894 he won the first unofficial American Open Championship, beating another Musselburgh man, Willie Campbell, in the final by two holes. He was runner-up in the first official championship which was held the following year and decided by stroke-play. Willie Jun. was the first Scottish professional to take up an appointment in the United States when he was appointed professional at Shinnecock in 1891. Willie experimented with steel shafts about the turn of the century and also with a type of peg tee instead of the mound of sand. He was evidently a man of vision as tees did not come into play until the 1920s and the use of sand gradually died out in the 1930s. Steel shafts were to become legal in Britain by the R. & A. in 1929. The other son of Willie was Tom Dunn, who spent his early life at Blackheath. Tom accompanied his father from Blackheath back to Leith in 1865, where he remained until 1870, the year he married a daughter of Gourlay. He then became custodian of the links at North Berwick and in the autumn of that year he accepted a post as professional to the London Scottish Club at Wimbledon, where he stayed for eleven years. He returned to North Berwick in 1881, taking up his former duties, and held that position until 1889, when he returned to London to take up the appointment as professional at Tooting Bec.