The origins of the Office Golf Club are difficult to be precise about; there is some anecdotal evidence that it was in existence in the early 1870s. What is absolutely clear is that it was functioning as an organised Club in 1878. The most compelling evidence of this is that one of the Club's trophies, the Club Medal, was first presented to I M Reid in 1878. The Medal is still played for today and the original medal is incorporated in the current trophy.
The other evidence to support the age of Club is in the Minute Book, now preserved in the National Archive of Scotland. The first entry is for 31 March 1879, when the Annual Meeting (note; not the first annual meeting) was held.
In these early days, the Medal was the only prize played for, competitions were held on the Second Saturday of each month and the player who won most of these Saturday competitions won the Medal. The standard of play must have been good, as the first score recorded in the score book was for an outing to Leith on 1 February 1879, won by I M Reid with a 75, which included a handicap of +4.
In these early days, the Club had outings to Leith, Musselburgh (then an Open Championship venue), Burntisland, Kinghorn and Elie, amongst other courses. Transport to the courses in Fife was by ferry from Granton to Burntisland run by the North British Railway Company and thence by train. The Forth Rail Bridge didn't open until 1890! The Club reserved train coaches and there is still a reservation label in the records.
The Club takes its name from Register House at the east end of Princes Street where the Department of the Registers of Scotland was located prior to the move to Meadowbank House in 1976. The membership comprised staff from both the Registers and the Scottish Record Office. Several of the Club's current 'more mature' members have connections to the Scottish Record Office.
The Club claims to be "the oldest, non-course owning office Golf Club in the World". This claim has been tested in the press and, although the Edinburgh Electric Golf Club was started earlier, it does not have a continuous existence. The Scotsman Golf Club is also very old, but concedes the title of oldest to us.
In the 1970s, there was some correspondence on the subject of old golfing societies which led to the word "office" being added to our claim. A letter in the Law Society Journal suggested correctly that the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrew's was an older non-course-owning Club and we were happy to concede that honour to the 'the R and A'!
The Club has had it's ups and downs in terms of popularity. In the 1920s, the membership reached its' highest level of 63. However, the best attended outing was the Centenary Outing to Muirfield in 1978, when 52 members attended; membership that year was 58. (Currently, the average attendance at outings is about 20).