top of page

Thomas Kincaid : a great swing student 350 years ago.

Using art, photography, and animation this article documents the story of Thomas Kincaid and his contribution to the golf swings of the past and present. This article content is mostly extracted from the book "The History of the Golf Swing,"

The Edinburgh Student

Young golfer Thomas Kinkaid chronicled his considered opinion of the golf swing while still learning the basics himself. This was original thinking years in advance of the time when the basics were being formulated.

Leith recreation fields.

Within a month of the cold, wet winter of 1687, the notes of an educated young man's golf swing experiences were recorded for perpetuity.

Thomas Kinkaid, an Edinburgh medical student, skilled archer, and talented writer became engrossed with the mechanics of the golf swing.

(Photograph shows Edinburgh University Medical School in the time of Kincaid).

Fortunately for golf academics, he decided to document his findings and thereby created the starting point for the history of the golf swing.

The animation of the Kincaid swing according to his swing thoughts. The young student possessed a bright, analytical mind and a curiosity in all things which was evident in his reflections and ideas. However, his detailed analysis only seemed to cause him trouble in settling on one specific theme.

I wonder what kind of exasperation his parents endured, especially as his father was the Deacon of the University.

Thomas led a full life with his many interests. He would write his thoughts on any subject that took his fancy, which could vary from throwing a stone to kicking a football. He never did fulfill his father's desire that he qualify to be a surgeon, but gained people's respect by his generosity in donating the extensive collection of medical books, accumulated by his father, to the university's library.

As with many writers, it is highly likely that Thomas jotted down his thoughts while on the field of play or before breakfast. He would then use these notes for reference when he filed the log in his diary at the end of the day.

The fields of play Thomas frequented were two tracts of land reserved for golfers on the outskirts of Edinburgh, at Leith and at Bruntsfield respectively. These links had already experienced a century or more of golf.

Leith today. An ariel view reveals the patch of land that has housed the beginnings of golf , documents

Scottish archives going back to the 16th century record a few interesting incidents there involving golfers and the public, from deadly duels to breaching the Sabbath. This would prove unfortunate for those involved at the time but fortunate for us to have the proof of golfing activity.

Both playing areas are still there today. Bruntsfield retains a small public par three course (pitch and putt) - free to play and open to the public, as it was when the young Thomas made his first associations with the game.

For more on Bruntsfield and other stories click the link.

(Photo shows the small greenfee and club-hire box for the Bruntsfield par3 course).

Although Thomas would have required the longer walk from the university, Leith was probably the more established and more pleasant to play of the two. Bruntsfield was forced to share its playing area with quarriers, busily employed at digging and scraping to extract sandstone for new houses in the town. With the proximity of the two contrasting groups, one can imagine the verbal battles that must have transpired.

The missing section of this article can be found in the book "The History Of The Golfswing."

The dockside of Leith around 150 years ago.

Leith port, behind the building facade about 200 meters away are the famous Leith links.

Kinkaid died in 1726 and was buried near his father in Kirkwood cemetery, Edinburgh.

Please note all images are under copyrite and can only be used with the agreement of the owner Bill Knowles.

57 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page