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Malone Golf Club, Belfast. (1895 - 1960s)

Founded in 1895.

The first, short lived course, was laid out on Newforge Lane , part of which had been used as a polo ground. The course proved too small for the ever increasing number of members, and so a move was made to Stranmills where an 18-hole course was laid-out and opened for play in May 1896. It was only on a short lease and, as frequent encroachments were made by the landlords for development, once again the club sought pastures new. These were found in 1912 in the area of Shaw’s Bridge, Barnett’s Park. Due to the outbreak of WW1 little progress was made on the course.

Following the Great War the course was bought back to life and on 25 October 1919 the new 18-hole course, designed by Dr. Alister MacKenzie, was opened for play, albeit with many modifications and improvements to the pre-WW1 original layout.  

The club moved to its present location at Ballydrain in the early 1960s.

Following are extracts of a report from the Belfast News-Letter of the 29th April 1895 describing the formation of the Malone Golf Club. "The Royal Game, as it is usually termed, has lost none of its well-merited popularity in our northern province, and, especially, in the city and suburbs of Belfast as yet another golf club has just been organised in the beautiful suburban district of Malone, within easy distance from the city either by train or tramcar. With the energy of its promoters the new club looks well set to be one of the most successful ventures of the kind which has, so far, been undertaken in the province of Ulster. On Friday last the 26th a meeting of the promoters was held in the National Schoolroom, Malone Road. The Rev R W Seaver BD, rector of St John’s Church, was in the chair. The chairman having announced the object of the meeting, the question of organising a golf club at Malone was discussed, it was unanimously resolved that a “Malone Golf Club” should be established, membership of which should be open to ladies and gentlemen, subject to ballot. A committee was appointed to make the necessary arrangements and to find the most suitable location for the links. The following office-bearers and committee members were elected; captain, Ernest Young; treasurer, W A Chapman; secretary, Joseph Pyke; plus a committee of 16 gentlemen."

Result of the first of the monthly competitions for the Captain’s Prize, presented by Ernest Young, took place on the new links at Newforge on 12th October 1895. Watson, the greenkeeper, had the links in first class condition. Following are the results under 100; Rev R W Seaver, 97-24-73; S D Neill, 112-27-85; Geo H Wheeler, 117-27-90; D F Spiller, 110-14-96; R G Moffett, 126-30-96; R Hewitt, 110-14-96.

Result of a ladies singles competition played on the New Forge links on Wednesday 23rd October 1895; in the semi finals Miss M Purdon beat Mrs McMullan and Miss E Carr bet Miss F Carr. In the final Miss E Carr beat Miss M Purdon.

Result of the monthly competition for November 1895; George Wheeler, 109-27-82; R G Moffett, 116-30-86; Sharman D Neill, 123-26-97. There was also a mixed foursome played in November, in the final Mr & Mrs E Young beat W A Chapman and Miss A Taylor.

The sixth quarterly competition for the McMullan prize was played on 4th January 1900, result as follows; Second round – Miss L McKeown (2) beat Miss C Taylor (10), 3&2; Miss A Haslett (10) beat Miss A McMullan (8), 3&2; Miss S Robson (11) beat Mrs Walkington (11), 2&1; Miss Clarke (11) beat Mrs Higgin (9), 2&1. In the final Miss McKeown beat Miss Clarke, 5&3. 

From the 1905 Nisbet’s Golf Yearbook; Instituted 1896; Number of members about 500; Hon. secretary – C S Harden, 71 High Street, Belfast; captain, Charles S Harden; Entrance fee £3/3s and subs £2/2s; 18-holes; professional Edward Kidd; green-keeper, Michael Murphy; professional record Fred Smyth, 66; amateur record F B Newett, 65; Terms for visitors, 1s a day, 5s a week, 20s a month. The course is an inland one, on very sandy soil. An additional 50 acres has just been acquired, and the course is being re-modelled. When completed, the course will be the longest 18-hole links in Ireland and will be of a very interesting and sporting nature.

Also listed was the Malone Ladies’ Golf Club; Hon. secretary – Mrs Walkington, 15 Adelaide Park, Belfast; captain, Miss Hamilton; 18-holes; Entrance fee £1/1s and subs £1/1s; Terms for visitors, 1s a day, 2s/6d a week. The course is undergoing considerable alterations, and some of the old ground has been given up. The new course will be a great improvement, and greatly lengthened.    

In 1907 many changes were made to the Stranmills course which was virtually reconstructed. The improved, lengthened course was opened on 7 May with an exhibition match between James Braid and Harry Vardon which Braid won by 5 and 4. The match attracted great interest in the district and a large crowd of spectators followed the match.

Just prior to WW1 the club decided to make a move to Barnett's Park and Dr. Alister MacKenzie was to make arrangements for the laying out the course. Although some preliminary work was carried out the project had to be postponed due to WW1.

We would like to thank Neil Crafter for his assistance in compiling information on the involvement of Dr. Alister MacKenzie on the Harberton  course at Malone.

From the Birmingham Daily Gazette Thursday 9 January 1919 - "The Malone Golf Club, near Belfast, are dealing with a plan, prepared by Dr. A Mackenzie, of Leeds, for the laying out of a new 18-hole course at a cost of £3,000."

From the Northern Whig Thursday 23 January 1919 - "NEW LINKS FOR MALONE CLUB - Work is being proceeded with in connection with a new 18-hole links for the Malone Golf Club, which when completed will be one of the finest inland course in the country. The ground which has been taken consists of  about 114 acres, and is situated near Malone House, so that it is within easy reach of the city. The project was embarked on before the war, being rendered necessary owing to the club having to give up possession of half their course on the Stranmills Road. This, of course, necessitated reduction of the links to 9-holes, and steps were taken for the acquisition of a new ground.

The plans were prepared by Dr. A Mackenzie, of Leeds, a well-known authority in the laying out of golf courses, and the estimated cost is £3,000. During the period of hostilities the work remained in abeyance, but will be proceeded with as rapidly as possible, as the members are anxious to have a full 18-hole course again. The links will be double looped, with, in the main, artificial hazards, and Dr. Mackenzie's reputation will ensure the laying out of a thoughtful golf course. The plans also provide for the erection of a handsome and commodious clubhouse."   

In 1919 MacKenzie arranged for a green-keeper, G. Samuels, who had previously worked on golf courses at Harrogate and the Isle of Man – quite likely on MacKenzie’s projects there – to come over to Belfast to superintend the construction of the course and, according to Samuels’ obituary following his death in 1946, “made such a favourable impression that the club engaged him as green-keeper,” and he stayed on for 27 years.   

At the annual meeting in June 1919 the following officers were elected; Captain, W A Lindsay, M.P; hon.secretary, Dr. George Clarke; hon. treasurer, John Green; council - C D Armstrong, George Bryan, A H R Carr, A Tedford, J F Stevenson. George Clarke, hon. secretary, and John Green, hon. treasurer, were elected honorary members in recognition of their services to the club.

Below the clubhouse and course in the early 1920s.


Malone Golf Club, Belfast. The clubhouse and course in the early 1920s.

Image courtesy of Neil Crafter.


Result of the February 1921 monthly medal; Eric Pinnon, 43-4-39; J F Stevenson, 40 scratch; W R Knox, 41-1-40; R O Tomlinson, 48-8-40; H Cochrane, 47-5-42. 

In the final of a ladies' foursome played in March 1921 Miss St. V Doran and Miss West beat Mrs McMurray and Mrs L Leitch.

Forty members competed for the prize presented by the captain, James Barty, in April 1922. The winner was Tom Morton, 70 scratch; runner-up, Robert Martin, 74-3-71.

From the 1933 Golfer's Handbook; Membership of 700; secretary, Charles S Harden; professional, Syd Fairweather; green-keeper, G Samuels;course records; amateur; Hubert S Sheals, 68; professional; S Fairweather, 71. 

The Irish Open was played at Malone in 1933. The winner was Bob Kenyon, England; runner-up, Alfred Padgham.


Malone Golf Club, Belfast. Layout of the golf course for the 1933 Irish Open.

Layout of the course for the 1933 Irish Open.


There were 22 entries for the September 1944 monthly medal, leading scores; N A Stafford, 79-5-74; H Scott, 89-14-75; J S Kyle, 91-16-75. 

In May 1945 the captain's prize presented by Mr C Lupane for the ladies' section was won by Miss B E Crymble (10) 30 points; runner-up, Mrs A W P Green (14) 28 points.

There were 145 entrants for the July 1945 monthly medal, leading scores; G T N Lawson (10) 4 up; J A Dowling (3) 2 up; G E Cameron (16) 1 up. 

It was reported in November 1945 that the death could be presumed of Flying Officer Hubert S Sheals. A member of Malone Golf Club he had represented Ireland at various tournaments and was a plus one golfer.

The following is from the 1947 Golfer’s Handbook; Membership, 750; professional, J Mc Lean; green-keeper, J Bridges; 18-holes with a SSS of 73; course records; amateur, H S Sheals 68; professional, F Daly 67. Visitors’ fees on introduction were; 2s/6d a day, 5s at weekend.

At the annual meeting in April 1951 R D Harrison was elected captain. Election of Officers; Hon. secretary, C C Wood; hon. treasurer, Mr George A Lawson; additions to the council – J A Dowling, A H Fetherston, A Lowe and T H Scott.

Below Fred Daly wins the Ulster Professional Golf Championship at Malone in August 1951.


Malone Golf Club, Belfast. Fred Daly wins the Ulster Professional Tournament August 1951.

From the Northern Whig Saturday 4 August 1951.


At the annual meeting in April 1954 Alfred Lowe was elected captain. R D Harrison, hon. secretary, and G A Lawson, hon. treasurer, were re-elected. The following four elected to the council; J A Dowling, A Pearson Elliott, G B Goldsburgh and G A Lawson. A E Titterington, acting captain since last July, becomes immediate past captain.  

Below the R.U.C mixed foursomes competition in September 1954.


Malone Golf Club, Belfast. The R.U.C mixed foursomes at Malone in September 1954.


Malone Golf Club, Belfast. The R.U.C mixed foursomes at Malone in September 1954.

From the Northern Whig Friday 3 September 1954.


At the 60th annual meeting in April 1955 Mr Pearson Elliott was elected captain for the coming year. The hon. secretary, R D Harrison, and hon. treasurer A P Bryan were re-elected. A H Kinkead, R D McKibben and F M Reid were elected on the council. Dr. I W Forsythe was congratulated on winning the West of Ireland Championship.  

In December 1955 the death was announced of Mr Goodwin Pratt. He had been a member at Malone Golf Club for almost fifty years.

In March 1956 Mrs S Mackie presided at the 61st annual meeting of the Ladies branch of Malone Golf Club, when it was reported the there had been a most successful year. The following office-bearers were elected; Mrs A P Elliott, captain; Mrs Balfour McGown, vice-captain; Mrs R W Arend, hon. secretary; committee – Mrs A Brown, Miss H McWilliam, Mrs L Grubb, Mrs D Fry, Mrs C Kidd and Mrs G Titterington. The L.G.U. Silver Spoon was won by Miss K Lowe. Mrs H W Bailie won the L.G.U. silver medal, and Mrs L Grubb, the bronze medal.

At the annual meeting in April 1956 R L Lowry was elected captain. The hon. secretary R D Harrison, was re-elected, and stated that the membership was 497. G A P Bryan was re-elected hon. treasurer. Three new members on the council; T Q King, J S Reid and R Stoupe.

In April 1956 the death was announced of Sidney Fairweather. He became professional at Malone Golf Club in 1922 and continued until the 1940s. A native of Scotland he represented his country six times, he held the Irish Professional Championship from 1926 to 1932. He also won the Ulster title eight times.   

At the annual meeting in April 1959 two Belfast brothers, James Gardener and Dr. Campbell Gardener, were made honorary members in recognition of their unbroken membership for the past 63 years. They had been members of the club virtually since its inception in 1895, they joined in 1896. The following officers were elected at the meeting; captain, F M Read; hon. secretary, G N Corbitt; hon. treasurer, J H Gillespie. 

It was reported in November 1960 that Malone Golf Club had bought Ballydrain House and 271 acres, near Drumbeg, at a cost of £90,000 to provide an 18-hole course, a nine-hole course, a large practice green, tennis courts, a boating lake and a country club. 

Prior to the clubs move to its present location in the early 1960s the secretary was L J Johnston . The club had a membership of over 800. The professional was J McLean, and the green-keeper, J Bridges. 18-holes with a SSS of 71. Course records; amateur W J J Ferguson, 69; professional, S Bacon 69. Visitors’ fees were 5s a day, weekends, 7s/6d, with a member.

The Google Map below shows the area around Shaw’s Bridge, location of the Malone Golf Club from 1912.