Elie Sports Club was opened in 1889 under the name of Elie Recreation Park. The facilities included a 9 hole golf course, known as the Ladies Course, a putting green and three tennis courts. A bowling green was added some years later. Alex Cook, a local solicitor and for fifty years Town Clerk of Elie, was the driving force behind the Recreation Park Committee and he imparted his own enthusiasm to many interested people who provided much voluntary support.
Early last century, Alex Cook and David Garland, a local joiner, attended a major building exhibition in Glasgow and purchased one of the first kit type houses for £125, including delivery to Elie. The Pavilion had arrived. Over the last 100 years work has been undertaken to renovate and upgrade the structure but the shape and character of the building has essentially been retained.
In the ensuing years, the Club continued to give pleasure to the residents as well as proving a great draw to holiday makers from Edinburgh, Glasgow and much further afield.
In 1962, the Golf House Club and the Sports Club amalgamated, and a committee of managements was formed to oversee the running of the Sports Club. An important figure at this time was Andrew Burns. A local farmer and Past Captain of the Golf House Club, Andrew had been a very active member of the Sports Club. He was elected as Convenor of the new Committee which shortly thereafter authorised a £4000 loan from the Bank. This enabled the Committee to build nine all-weather tennis courts.
By 1960, with the tireless help of Mrs Helen Ockleford, great encouragement was being given to young golf and tennis players for whom professional coaching was arranged in July and August. The Elie Sports Week took place each April and many school children participated in various competitions.
The Pavilion became –and has remained – a popular meeting place for the young and the kitchen facilities have been regularly upgraded.
In 1963, a nine hole pitch and putt course (known as the Children’s Course) was replaced by a Driving Range but for safety reasons this was later moved to its present location. The site of the original bays remains behind the 9th tee and is used to store equipment for the green keeping staff.
An experiment in 1966 which converted the Ladies Course into an 18 hole par 3 course was not a huge success. Two years later, in response to overwhelming demand voiced at the AGM, the Committee authorised the restoration of the course to its present state. Adjustments to the 4th hole (to allow the sale of land to extend the Primary School playground) and the 5th (to protect the windows of houses at Marine Park) resulted in the length of the course being reduced. The addition of extra bunkers and landscaping has ensured that the character and challenge of the course remains.
In 1973, the Captain of the Golf House Club was approached by the Agent of local landowner, Miss Lavinia Baird, who offered to sell the area comprising the Sports Club for the sum of £26,000. It was quickly decided to take up this generous offer and great efforts were made to raise the required sum through grants and voluntary contributions. The target was achieved and the Sports Club acquired title to its own land in April 1974.
Grants were received from:
The Scottish Sports Council £13000
Fife Education Committee £6000
St Andrews Council £1000
Royal Burgh of Elie and Earlsferry £1000
Loan from the Golf House Club £5500
There was an important consequence of the Scottish Sports Council grant of the £13000. That body imposed certain requirements upon the objects of its generosity, and these resulted in changes having to be made in the relationship between the Golf House Club and the Sports Club. The Sports Council required that, to qualify for a grant, The Sports Club must become the owner of the ground and sporting facilities, must have an approved Constitution, and must provide for its membership being open to all on payment of an appropriate subscription. This necessitated the separation of the two Clubs and a fundamental change in the administration of the Sports Club.
The tennis courts were reduced in number to five in 1982 and three short courts were added later. The front three courts were resurfaced in 2001 and now offer an all year round facility.
The Bowling Green is generally regarded as one of the best in Fife and the Bowling Club recently celebrated its Centenary Year.
In 2000 an Irrigation System was installed and this, together with the employment of two full time green-keepers, led to a much appreciated improvement in the condition of the course throughout the year.
The putting green has always been an attraction for young and old alike and its slopes and borrows continue to deceive the unwary as they have for generations.
Father and Son, Tom and John Reekie, served the Club as professionals from shortly after the end of the Great War until John’s retirement in 1981. During that time countless young people, including future internationalists, two Curtis Cup and a Walker Cup player received tuition from the Reekies. The need to encourage and support Golf lessons and practice was recognised by the Sports Club Committee firstly in the creation of a Driving Range and in 2002 with the development of the undercover facilities, financed partly by a grant from the Royal and Ancient Golf Club.
If the Sports Club owes a debt of gratitude to Alex Cook for his enthusiasm in its early days, and to Andrew Burns for guiding it through its transition into its present format, then it is essential that a third name is likewise remembered. Theo Johnson was unstinting in his work as Convenor throughout the 1990’s until his untimely death in 2003. His legacy is the excellent state of all the facilities, the extent of the membership and the high regard in which Elie Sports Club is held.