The History of the Roger Casket
Some of Scotland’s best senior amateur golfers battle it out over the Prestwick St Nicholas course every summer for the prestigious Roger Casket.
It is always an intriguing contest but no more so than the story of the man who donated the fine old trophy to the club in 1859 to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria’s accession to the throne – James Henry Roger had been a bodyguard to the monarch, had a hand in the founding of Rangers Football Club, owned one of Glasgow’s most iconic bar/restaurants and was involved in a long-running court battle over the design of a revolutionary golf ball – the ProV1 of its day.
Roger was a member of St Nicholas in the club’s early days and was a contemporary of Old Tom Morris.
When Queen Victoria came to Scotland in October 1859 to open the Loch Katrine Water Works, Roger was one of the men who escorted the monarch.
Later he and a silent business partner, known only as Mr Anderson, bought the Bodega Spanish wine cellar in Glasgow’s Royal Exchange Square and changed its name to Rogano. And so a legend was born.
The name comes from combining the first three letters of Roger with the first three letters of another.
There is an old story that Roger’s son hanged himself in Rogano’s basement and that his ghost still haunts the premises.
Roger was a founder member of Clydesdale Amateur Rowing Club in 1857. In those early days members of the club played football on Glasgow Green to help keep themselves fit. In fact club minutes of the time complain of the hours they spent kicking a ball about to the detriment of their rowing.
It was those kick-abouts that led to the formation of Glasgow Rangers Football Club and those roots are acknowledged on a mural at Ibrox depicting a rowing scene on the Clyde at the Glasgow Green.
In 1907 Roger began a court action against Leith firm JP Cochrane over the design of a new golf ball. He claimed Cochrane had infringed a patent he held for an improved core consisting of an elastic bag filled with water.
Cochrane argued the core of their Ace ball was not liquid but jelly. However the judge, Lord Salvesen, found in favour of Roger. Cochrane & Co appealed – citing the different behaviour of liquid and gelatine-filled golf balls in flight – and the decision was overturned.
Then, in 1911, Cochrane sued Roger and ball manufacturer Martins of Birmingham for £10,000, alleging their Zodiac ball infringed a 1906 Cochrane patent for forming the core with an elastic bag filled with an incompressible fluid. The defenders claimed the core was made of soft soap combined with pieces of cork or powdered black lead and so nothing to do with Cochrane’s patent. The court agreed.
Soon after this Roger died. He left a collection of pictures to the Kelvingrove Museum, and money for the “incorporations and infirmaries of Glasgow” … and his name immortalised on the magnificent trophy at Prestwick St Nicholas.