Clontarf Golf Club Centenary Pro Am

Barry O’Leary ACCPRO with Captain Liam, Lady Captain Madge and Club Professional Eamonn Brady to announce sponsorship of Clontarf Golf Club Centenary Pro Am to be held Sunday June 4th

In November 1921, one of the most difficult periods of the Club’s existence reached a happy conclusion with the acceptance of Dublin Corporation’s terms for a move to Donnycarney House and the adjoining lands. Then came a settling-in period after which Dr Morrow reported in early 1923 that work on reconstructing the course was progressing favourably. He added that a temporary, 12-hole course was being prepared pending the visit of Harry Colt, the leading English golf-course architect of the time.

Arnotts won the contract for the covering of the hall, bar, Committee-room and steps leading from the back entrance to the clubhouse with rubber hosing at a total cost of £43.13.0. A carpet for the lounge, bought from the Dolphin Hotel for £21.0.0, would be edged with lino bought from Arnotts for £7.17.6. The Committee decided to purchase a billiards table and the contents of the Garrison Sergeants’ Mess, Ship St. Barracks for the sum of £120. The old Clubhouse at Mount Temple was to be put up for auction.

With Colt and Dr Morrow of similar mind regarding golf-course design, rapid progress was made on the laying out of the new stretch, comprising two loops of six holes. Eventually, the fruits of their labours went on public display when the course was officially opened on Wednesday, June 6th, 1923.

The official honours were done by the Governor-General, T M Healy who paid a generous tribute to the British Prime Minister, Bonar Law. He also thanked Dr Morrow for his “kind” introductory remarks. According to a report in “The Irish Times”, Dr Morrow had promised Mr Healy he should drive off the first ball on the new course.

“That is a ‘t’ I should like to have left uncrossed,” said Mr. Healy, “as I had never held a golf club in my hand.”

Still, the Governor-General seems to have done his duty, albeit without conspicuous success, using a club presented to him by the Committee. “The Irish Times” reported: “It was not what golfers would call a good drive, and it was, unfortunately, ‘sliced’, with the result that the ball struck one of the spectators who promptly picked it up and kept it as a souvenir of a very interesting occasion.”

Following the drive-in, Mr Healy complimented the Clontarf members on their “fine links and fine clubhouse” which he generously rated as “the finest of any golf club in Ireland.” He also expressed pleasure at the number of fine things the Committee had told him regarding the kindness of Lady Porter in the sensitive matter of vacating the grounds.

“The Irish Times” further noted: “Donnycarney House, formerly the residence of Sir Andrew M Porter, has been admirably converted to suit the requirements of the club. The grounds are exceedingly well sheltered and although at present the golf course is 12 holes only, the club hope to have a full 18-hole course laid within a short time.”  Apart from the Governor-General, the function also had as honoured guests, Lord Glenavy and Sir Stanley Cochrane. All in all, it appears to have been quite a grand affair.

As a further celebration of the occasion, the club staged an 18-hole professional event. The field included their newly-appointed professional, Jack Quinn, whose plus-fours were to remain his golfing attire of choice during subsequent decades at Malahide Road.

The competition, with a top prize of £7 10s, was won by Hermitage professional, Michael McDermott, who returned a fine score of 71, three strokes clear of Dun Laoghaire’s Moses O’Neill, one of the country’s leading players at the time. There was a three-way tie for third between Quinn, Willie Holley (Castle) and D Mahony of Skerries.

As promised, the full, 18-hole course, designed by Colt, was officially opened with an exhibition match involving the great Walter Hagen, on May 28th, 1928. It had been in play almost a year by that stage.

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