Camperdown Park is known and loved by generations of Dundonians who have enjoyed the great outdoor spaces and wonderful specimen trees that abound there. But how did such a wonderful, green idyll come to be and how does it now sport one of the finest, most challenging parkland courses in Scotland.
Alexander Duncan originally purchased what was then called Lundie Estate in 1682. His family rose to prominence in the town with several members serving as Provost. It was in 1797 during the French Revolutionary Wars that Admiral Adam Duncan, as commander of the British Royal Navy fleet defeated the Dutch Navy at the Battle of Camperdown. The name Camperdown was taken from the coastal village of Camperduin in North Holland off which the battle was fought. The battle turned out to be the most significant action between British and Dutch forces and resulted in a complete victory for the British who captured eleven Dutch ships without losing any of their own. The victory was later compared to Nelson's success at the Battle of Trafalgar and Admiral Duncan was raised to the peerage as Viscount Duncan.
It was Duncan’s son who renamed the house and estate just north of Dundee as ‘Camperdown’ in memory of his father's victory. The estate included the area we now know as Downfield Golf Club and was mainly laid out by Lord Camperdown’s forester, David Taylor who planted most of the estate's trees some of which still stand today. Taylor also created a particular variety of Elm that is now notable among horticulturalists as the Camperdown Elm, a short, broad, "weeping" variety of the species.
The park was purchased for the people of Dundee in 1945 with funds from the Sir James Caird Acquisition Fund and in 1955 a plan was devised for the park’s future use. This included an 18-hole golf course to be laid out around the imposing Mansion House. With input from Walter Lyle, the then golf professional at Caird Park Golf Course and uncle of Major champion Sandy Lyle, Camperdown Golf Course was laced through this beautiful parkland and opened to the public in 1959. Camperdown Golf Club was established the following year within the basement of Camperdown Mansion House.
Golf in Dundee grew in popularity throughout the 1950’s & 60’s with the advent of televised tournaments and the rise to fame of charismatic golfers such as Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player. Camperdown became recognized nationally for its beautiful surrounds and testing playing conditions. It was considered by many who took on it challenges as one of the finest parkland tests in Scotland and hosted many qualifying or championship events.
Camperdown Golf Course is now undergoing a steady programme of improvement and is set to enter a new era of providing challenge and excitement for legions of Dundee’s keen golfers. Alongside the 18-hole course nestles Camperdown’s Pitch & Putt course, now open to the public for free.