The emblem of the Caledonia Golf Club Carnoustie consists of a willow tree surmounted by birds (either crows or rooks) in flight. It must be derived from the ‘Common Seal’ of the Burgh of Carnoustie which was adopted by the Town Council of 1893 and which included, in addition to the tree and birds, the Latin motto ‘Augurum Favet ‘ – ‘The Augury is favourable’.
The tree depicted is historically nicknamed ‘Tammas Lowson’s Dibble’ from the legend that it ‘had sprung from a dibble left carelessly in the ground’, presumably by that gentleman. It grew and at least at the time of writing, still survives – even if mainly by the benefit of supporting tackle. It can be seen in the area now bounded by Ferrier Street, High Street and Park Avenue, which was the original feu tenanted from shortly after 1797 by Thomas Lowson, the ‘founder and father of Carnoustie’ who died in 1856.
The birds are either crows or rooks. The designer of the ‘Common Seal’ reportedly intended them to represent the rookeries which have always been a feature of the Carnoustie scene. However, their popular mis-identification as crows no doubt contributed to the fanciful attempt to derive the name ‘Carnoustie’ from ‘Craws Nestie’, as perpetuated by the ‘Craws Nest Tassie’.
Whichever species the birds may be, they were certainly intended to be black in hue, albeit on the current club tie they are undeniably white. Presumably this is because they would have been indistinguishable against a navy background in their true colour.
Whether a ‘Sprouted dibble with four white rooks masquerading as crows’ would obtain heraldic approval as an emblem is a matter for speculation, but it would surely please Thomas Lowson to know that it continues to commemorate himself and his tree.