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The signature under the oldest rules of golf is of Dr John Rattray, a surgeon, who won the coveted Silver Club on the 7th March 1744. The trophy had been presented to the Gentlemen Golfers of Muirfield by the Edinburgh Town Council for an annual competition. John Rattray won the competition again in 1745.
Today, two and one half centuries later, there are five such Silver Clubs, as each Captain attaches an inscribed silver ball to the club. In 1980, the fifth Silver Club was presented to Jack Nicklaus, at Muirfield Village, in Ohio, USA.
In 1746, John Rattray's older brother, James Rattray, the Clan Chief of the Rattrays in Highland Perthshire, decided not to join the the Highland Scots Jacobite uprising in support of the Stewart King in exile. The Clan Rattray Chief suggested that his younger brother, Dr John Rattray offer his medical services to Bonnie Prince Charlie (the exile king's oldest son) as his personal physician during the uprising. Dr John Rattray agreed and joined the Highland uprising after the Battle of Prestonpans on the 21st September 1745.
The Highland army was eventually defeated by the Government forces on the 16th April 1746, at the Battle of Culloden (the last battle fought on British soil), Rattray was captured and sentenced to be executed.
Fortunately for Rattray, his good friend and golfing companion, Lord President Duncan Forbes, who was a fellow member of the Honourable Company of Golfers at Muirfield, was then Lord of Session and had considerable influence, intervening on behalf of Rattray. He successfully pleaded that he could not stand by and watch his golf captain being hung and his life was spared, all on account of playing golf together.
Eventually, Dr John Rattray was able to return to his golfing, winning the Silver Club trophy in 1751, and becoming Captain of Golf once more.