How it all began..
Throughout his life, Shetland man James Thomas Leask, (known locally as Jim of Asta) played at several small golf courses in Shetland. Beginning his love for golf at a small course near Asta farm called Berry and then moving to golf courses in the south mainland of Shetland in Sumburgh and laterally playing at the Dale golf course from 1976 when it first opened.
Dale golf course grew larger and more challenging over the years, adding a second 9 to become an 18-hole course in 1978.
-Dale is now known as the ‘Shetland Golf Club’ and offers a unique game of golf, which is a must for anyone travelling through Shetland.
Pictured at Dale Golf Course in the 1970’s, L to R - Graham Smith, Arnold Leask, Rev. Smith, Tootsie Thompson, David Thompson and Jim Leask
While Playing at Dale golf club and with the alternative courses closing, Jim Leask realized there was nowhere for less-abled players to play golf, somewhere for the older and younger generation alike. It was then, that this vision of Asta Golf Course started to take place.
Having spent his childhood and working life on Asta Farm, Jim married Winnie Leslie and built their home along the road from the farm, Jim would often take his young family along with a few balls onto the arable ground on the farm, this ground would become the setting for the Asta Golf Course.
Pictured - Two of Jim and Winnie’s 5 daughters in the corn stacks at Asta Farm. This ground was to become the south fairway of the Asta Golf Course.
Pictured - Looking from the top of the East hill of Asta, one of Jim and Winnie’s 5 daughters can be seen looking over the freshly ploughed fields that were to become the golf course.
Pictured - Jim and Winnie’s home looks down onto the golf course, the corn stacks in the distance are on the ground that is now our course.
Making his dream a reality, Jim along with his family and friends, made the Asta Golf Course while employing both his son’s, Michael and David to assist with the greenskeeping.
On the 18th of July 1992, local Golfer Dodie Leask hit the first ball on the Asta Golf course, opening the course for all to enjoy.
The opening day continued with a competition, of which, Tom Worthington won, he can be seen pictured receiving the Cup from Sandy Cluness with Jim Leask standing right to Sandy.
Pictured - Tom Worthington receiving the Asta Golf Course opening competition
Pictured - Dodie Leask on the opening day of Asta Golf Course
Pictured - Jim Leask to the left of the photograph along with players at the Asta Golf Course opening competition
Pictured - Players at the Asta Golf Course opening competition
The course clubhouse was a small porta cabin at the time, with many great nights held there. Dodie Leask and Willie Smith can be pictured above having a laugh after the opening day.
The golf course grew each year and received its 100 member; she can be seen pictured here with Jim Leask with the putter she was gifted for becoming the 100th member of Asta Golf Club.
With the Golf Course growing, the Clubhouse became too small. The porta cabin clubhouse was moved, making room for a new clubhouse to be built in its place.
In November 1996 the new clubhouse was ready and opened by Winnie Leask, followed by a music evening for all to enjoy.
Pictured - Winnie can be seen playing her accordion here with Jim by the window playing his bass guitar. Jim and Winnie's eldest Daughter is pictured behind Winnie.
Pictured right - Winnie Leask opening the new Clubhouse
Music nights became a tradition for the Asta Clubhouse following a group of musicians who would gather with their instruments at the Gott School until they wanted to expand to fortnightly sessions which was unfortunately not possible at the school as it was only available during term time.
The music nights are still a tradition at the Asta Golf Club with two of Jim and Winnie’s daughters hosting them every second Thursday.
Jim continued to maintain the course along with his family and taking the next generation out on the course became a new tradition, with 7 children and their partners along with 15 grandchildren and their partners, a golf course was the perfect setting! An annual family gathering where each player could only take one club out on the course to complete their game was a favourite, it is well remembered that Jim took a putter to the game several times and completed the game with that alone. That day was often finished with food and music in the clubhouse with everyone mucking in with the cooking and tunes.
Jim’s sad passing in 2010 following two years in care saw the next generation of the Leask family take on the golf course, a committee was formed to keep his dream alive with several of his children on the committee and in 2016 the committee passed the golf course onto the third generation with Winnie sadly passing the same year.
It is with great pride that we continue the dream that Jim and Winnie created and we have placed a memorial bench on the course looking toward the whole course. Jim and Winnie’s home can be viewed from the spot as can the mound on the course where there is a memorial stone for Jim.
If you are passing the bench in a game of golf, or just passing throught the Tingwall Valley, why not ‘Tak a pew’ on the bench and remember the history of the course and the people that made it what is it. We do, with a smile on our face and love in our hearts.
For Jim and Winnie.
Asta Golf Course
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