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Professor John (Old John) Shand
C.M.G., LL.D., M.A.
1834 - 1914

Time for Golf

So much time had he in hand that there was the opportunity to consider the game of golf.

The game of golf may have been played in New Zealand before that time (possibly as early as 1863) but is from the Otago Daily Times of 18th September 1871 (page 2) we get the first reference to John Shand’s involvement in the game:


The golf ground near Caversham was well patronised on Saturday, as about a dozen players were engaged in the game during the afternoon. A meeting of those favourable to the formation of a club to play this Royal and ancient game, was held at Wain’s Hotel, in the evening. Mr C R Howden was called upon to preside and resolutions were passed, constituting a club upon the basis of similar institutions in the old country. The following office-bearers were appointed for the first twelve months: Captain Mr C R Howden; Committee Professor Shand, Mr W D Murison, Mr T C Reid; honorary secretary and treasurer, Mr D F Main.

The annual subscription was fixed at one guinea, and the Committee were empowered to invite players to join the Club until the next general meeting, when members must be admitted in accordance with the rules, which the Committee were requested to draw up and submit for approval at such meeting.

The Committee were further empowered to provide the necessary playing material for members until such time as regular supplies could be obtained. It was elicited that there were several good club and ball makers in Dunedin, and if such be the case, a good opening is here provided for a respectable tradesman in a novel line of business; and we predict, from the enthusiastic manner in which some old players present entered into the spirit of the game, that a good demand will result for the necessary implements. Wednesday, the 27th inst., at 8 o’clock was fixed for the general meeting, when the play and club rules will be submitted for approval.

We may fairly congratulate the golfing community (and it consists of not a few in Dunedin) on the establishment of a game at the antipodes which will recall many happy recollections of early days, and add many happy (because healthful) years to the lives of those who practise it. Medals to he played for on medal days were spoken of; and as Canterbury is also about to take the initiatory steps for the introduction of the game into that province, we may fairly anticipate some future interprovincial matches.


Competitive golf seems to have started quite soon after this, the Otago Witness of 30th December 1871 (page 8) says, the competition for the gold medal of the Dunedin Golf Club came off on Tuesday, at the ground near Mornington; John Shand finished 4th of 11 entries.

The next mention of John Shand playing golf occurs more than one year later - maybe he now had enough students to occupy his time - with the competition for the St Andrews’ Cross, presented by C R Howden, Captain of the Dunedin Golf Club, where John Shand was runner-up.

On 1st September 1874, John Shand was appointed to serve as Captain of Dunedin Golf Club, the Otago Daily Times of the following day (page 2) describes the meeting thus:


The annual meeting of this Club was held in Wain’s Hotel last evening, Mr C E Howden presiding. The Chairman said the Club was in a very flourishing condition, and had had a most successful year, and he trusted the next year would be as successful. He might mention that some items on the balance sheet, to improving the road. &c, would never occur again. He desired that some one be appointed in his stead for the ensuing year, as he desired to take a back seat.

Mr Murison said that having heard this intimation on the part of the Captain, it gave him great pleasure to propose one for the office who had taken great interest in the game, and been present at nearly every match. He referred to Professor Shand, one of the first players to commence the game upon the old links beyond the Glen. Mr Hood seconded the proposal, which was unanimously carried.


That same year, as reported in the Otago Daily Times of 30th September (page 2), the St. Andrews’ Cross has again been taken, by Professor Shand, meaning had won it at least once before this date. He won it again in March 1875.

At the end of his reign as Captain, John Shand placed £5 at the disposal of the club for prizes. This may have been used to purchase a cup, for, at a meeting in 1876, Mr Hood took Professor’s Silver Cup with a total of 111; being two rounds of the short course then used.

John Shand also won, outright, another trophy at the club; the Telfer medal was presented to Dunedin Golf Club by Mr John Telfer. John Shand won it outright on 2nd January 1875.

The medal (pictured opposite) was presented back to the Club in 1970 by Professor Shand’s daughters and the Club has played for this every year since.

Telfer Medal
(Otago Golf Club)

The Otago Daily Times of 4th January 1875 (page 2) describes John’s victory:


On Saturday the annual competition by the members of the Dunedin Golf Club for the club’s gold medal took place, and on the same day the members played for a handsome medal presented to the club for competition by Mr J T Telfer.

The club’s medal is held for one year by the player who succeeds in completing the two rounds of the Links, being 18 holes, in the lowest number of strokes. Mr Telfer’s medal was a handicap prize, to be retained by the winner.

At eleven o’clock the weather was very unfavourable for golf, but shortly after that hour the first pair of competitors started. At the finish of the first round it was found that Mr D Hood had made the lowest score, 62; Professor Shand and Mr Fogarty coming next with 64 each.

In his second round Mr Hood scored 70, leaving Professor Shand 68 to tie him for the Club’s medal. The latter, however, finished his second round in 66, thus winning both medals, his handicap for the two rounds having been 6.

The following are the scores of some of the leading players: Professor Shand, 130; Mr D Hood, 132; Mr G Todd, junr., 134; Mr M Fogarty, 134; Mr J Thomson, 137. The scores, it will be seen, are a long way beyond the average, a circumstance which is to be accounted for by the great length of the grass upon part of the links.

After the day’s play was over the medals were presented in the Club Rooms to the winner, Professor Shand, who is Captain of the Club, by the Hon. Secretary, Mr J B Park.


From The Otago Golf Club, Club Calendar 2012, we find that:


The first few games were played at Caversham but early in 1872, the City Council gave permission for the establishment of a golf course at Mornington …… The first tee just happened to be very handy to Fogarty’s Hotel, which soon provided a locker room, Clubhouse and the first ‘nineteenth’ in New Zealand.


The booklet continues:


In 1876 the ‘nineteenth’ changed hands. The new landlord soon found himself in bankruptcy and the ensuing sale saw a member of the public secure a complete parcel of all the members’ golf clubs for two pounds. When the clubs were tracked down a year later, they were useless. Without a playable course and without equipment, players found the whole business impossible. It was nearly twenty years before golf once again took organised shape.


With the Dunedin Golf Club in abeyance, it was not until 1892 that The Otago Golf Club was formed. The Otago Daily Times of 7th June 1893 (page 4) reports the monthly handicap competition for the St Andrews’ Cross in which there was a tie for fourth place between Dr Shand (6 strokes) and Mr J M Ritchie (12 strokes), with net scores of 95 each.

The Otago Daily Times of 28th May 1894 (page 4) reported on play for the usual monthly competition under handicap for the St Andrew’s Cross … the lowest gross score was made by Dr Shand (4 strokes) who was once more to the front with a fine steady game. He will require to play off a tie with Mr C Rattray (6 strokes), who went round in 93.

The play off was reported in the Otago Daily Times of 25th June 1894 (page 4):


The tie for the May competition for the Otago Golf Club’s St Andrew’s cross between Dr Shand and Mr C W Rattray was played on the 16th inst., and resulted in a win for Dr Shand, who played a remarkably steady round of 90, which, with his handicap of four strokes, left him with 86 net. Mr Rattray made a very good fight of it with 91 (97 - 6).


Another tie in the monthly competition for September 1894 resulted in a play off between John Shand, M S Todd and C W Rattray resulted, this time, in a win for the latter.

The Otago Daily Times of 27th September 1894 (page 34) reported on an inter-club match in which John Shand played for the Otago Golf Club, unfortunately losing his individual match 3 holes down, but part of a victorious team:


The Otago Golf Club paid a visit to the Dunedin Golf Club at the Maori Hills links last Saturday to play a match. The links were in fine order, some of the putting greens, however, being perhaps rather keen, owing to the recent dry weather. A very pleasant game was played, resulting …… in a win for the visitors by 22 holes.


As late as 1896, though, John Shand reached the final of the Club Championship where the Otago Daily Times of 9th June (page 8) reported:


It is also pleasant to find that the second place in the club championship has been secured by Dr Shand, one of our most enthusiastic golfers, and one of the oldest exponents of the game in New Zealand, being always a steady and reliable player.

The above competition was commenced, on May 2 and terminated on May 30. There were 16 entries. In the first round J O Kettle beat Dr Ogston by 5 up and 3 to play. Dr Shand beat G Roberts by 6 up and 5 to play. Dr Brown beat C Maitland by 3 up and 2 to play. W C MacGregor beat M S Todd on the last hole. F Stilling beat A Todd by 6 up and 4 to play. C W Rattray beat S Leitch at the nineteenth hole. Messrs J R Scott and H Macneil jun. received byes.

In the second round J O Kettle beat J K Scott by 2 up and 1 to play. Dr Shand beat Dr Brown by 4 up and 3 to play. W C MacGregor beat F Stilling by 4 up and 2 to play. H Macneil jun. beat C W Rattray by 6 up and 5 to play.

In the third round Dr Shand beat J O Kettle by 2 up and 1 to play, and H Macneil jun. beat W C MacGregor. The final round was won by Mr H Macneil jun who beat Dr Shand by 5 up and 3 to play.


John Shand was still playing competitive golf as late as 1899 when the Otago Daily Times of 9th May that year (page 6) reported play for the usual monthly competition for the St Andrew’s Cross, finishing 7th equal with a score of 90 (98 - 8).

The same year, 1899, provides the last reference (so far) found to John Shand playing any form of competitive golf. The Otago Daily Times of 26th September 1899 (page 3) reported on a match between two teams made up of members of Otago Golf Club in which John Shand played G MacEwan, losing 1 hole down.


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