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Saintfield (Rowallane) Golf Club, Belfast. (1890 - WW1)

Founded in 1896.

Captain in 1896/7 was J Napier of Saintfield.

Following is an extract from an article from the Belfast News-Letter Tuesday 11th August 1896 – “SAINTFIELD CLUB – In connection with this club a very interesting series of competitions for valuable prizes has been instituted. The first of these were played off at their links, Rowallane Demesne, during the past ten days, and was concluded on Saturday last by a magnificent exhibition of play by Messrs. R Carlisle and L Napier, the latter winning the deciding hole by a stroke. The following are the analysis of the play; First round – R Carlisle beat J T Simpson 4 and 3; J Napier beat T Napier 4 and 3; F H Scott beat W Dickson 5 and 4; L Napier beat S Dickson 5 and 4; L Napier beat S Dickson 2 and 1; C A Moorehead, bye. In the final L Napier beat R Carlisle 1 up.

These newly established links, which are about three quarters of a mile from Saintfield, certainly deserve the attention of golfers generally. Covering an area of fully one hundred acres, and situated so as to command a splendid view of both the Mourne Mountains and Strandford Lough, combined with the natural advantages of the ground, the links can compare favourably with many of the other inland ones in Ireland.

The first drive of about a hundred yards over some rather treacherous ground lands you nicely over a stone ditch and well in the open, from whence a long approach shot should land you on the putting green, which is in the bottom of pretty deep valley. This hole should be done in four.

Second Hole – From the teeing ground a steady shot will land you well up for a cleek shot for the green. Another four hole.

Third Hole – A very long drive land up to the borders of a belt of rushes, which guard the green, a strong shot with the brassey landing well over and in close to the hole. A three hole.

Hole Four – This is “the hole” of the links. A good drive lands to the bottom of “Devil’s Leap” bunker, where careful play over the embankment, leaves you on the top of the hill within a short distance of the hole. Very good in six.

Fifth Hole – A long straight hole over a stone obstacle. Should be done in five.

Sixth Hole – A long drive of 200 yards from a splendid teeing ground lands well to the bottom of a splendid ditch, after clearing which a stiff climb, played with either lofter or niblick, reaching hole on top of the hill in about five. A good hole in seven.

Seventh Hole – After driving down an iron shot will bring to the border of a ditch which guards approach to the hole. Here very careful play is necessary, as the ground is rather rough. A good hole in six.

Eighth Hole – Another good drive downwards brings ball to the edge of a belt of rough land covered with brambles, which requires a good lofted shot to clear and reach the green. Should be done in four.

Ninth Hole – Across a depression and up the side of a steep bank, from the top of which the putting green is easily accessible, brings us to the end of the course. With a good drive can be done in five.  

As can be seen from the following report from the Belfast News-Letter in December 1896 the club seemed to be making satisfactory progress. “A highly successful social gathering promoted by the Saintfield Golf Club took place in the Academy Hall. The Saintfield is one of our youngest Irish clubs, but it has already given strong indication of a vigorous and useful career. The links are laid out on ground which has been taken from Mr. J H Moore Garrett, J.P., on reasonable terms, and the turf is described by experienced golfers as particularly suited to the game, and, indeed, almost  equal to a seaside course. It has excellent advantages in point of situation, commanding a splendid view of the surrounding country, while from some of the more elevated parts it is possible on a clear day to obtain glimpses of the Isle of Man and the Scotch coast. There is an energetic committee, with Major M Blackwood Price, D.L., at its head as president; hon. secretary, Charles A Moorhead; hon. treasurer, R A Harbinson; captain during the past year, James Napier. The membership roll is fairly numerous, and is constantly being increased, not a few of those associated with the club being ladies. There was a large gathering of members and invited friends.”

In May 1897 the annual open competition for the Captain’s Prize was held at the Shane’s Park Golf Club (now also defunct.) In the final were H Armytage-Moore and J Cowan (Antrim,) the former winning by 2&1. Mr Armytage-Moore was a prominent member of Antrim and Saintfield Golf Club.

An Open Competition was to be played on the Saintfield course on the 13th May 1889. Prizes to the value of; £2/2s, £1/1s and 10s, entrée fee was 2s/6d. Entry to be sent to the secretary, H J Press.   

The following is from the 1905 Nisbet's Golf Tearbook; *Instituted 1890; Hon. secretary - L Napier, Central Branch Belfast Bank; Captain, J V L Glendening; Entrance fee, £1/1s and subs 10s/6d; 18-holes; Professional, W Watson; amateur record, 98; Terms for visitors 5s a month.  The course is half a mile from the station, and from it splendid views of Scotland and the Isle of Man can be obtained. The hazards consist of bunkers, ditches, whins etc. Visitors can have refreshements at the Golf house. Hotel -  "Price Arms." 

*Above it states Instituted 1890. This is the only publication that gives this date.

There is an entry for the club in The Golfing Annual 1909/10. The secretary was L Napier, Bank House, Saintfield.    

The Google Map below shows Rowallane Gardens.