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Mahee Island Golf Club, Strangford Lough Course, Co. Down. (1929 – 2019)

The original nine-hole course was laid out by William Renick Robinson in 1929. 

Located in an area of outstanding natural beauty the course was laid out on the shores of Strangford Lough. Fred Daly was the clubs first professional.

The following message appeared on the Mahee Island Golf Course website in 2019:-

 “Mahee Island Golf Course is a privately owned Golf Course owned and operated by MIGC Ltd. As of the 1st January 2019 the course is closed until further notice. Separate to MIGC Ltd is Mahee Island Golf "Club" which is “Affiliated to” and a “Member of" the GUI.(operating under GUI rules.)

The "Club" is now moving to operate as Mahee Island Golf Club at Blackwood Golf Centre.”

In the late 1920s William Stanley Cather, a Belfast businessman and keen golfer, built a holiday cottage on Mahee Island. He quickly realised that land on the Island could be turned into a golf course. The closely cropped grass, thanks to the grazing sheep, brought to mind the terrain on other links courses he had seen. He needed to get other people involved and he  managed to convince two prominent locals, David Boyd and Alex Johnston, that the laying out of golf course was a real possibility. David Boyd was a keen sportsman, although he had never played golf. Alex Johnston was the landowner.

Stanley Cather was recognised as being the leading light in bringing golf to Mahee, and along with Alex Johnston, Hugh, John and David Boyd they had the foresight to establish the Mahee Island Golf Club.

Mr. Johnston and his family became so enthusiastic for the game and for the new club that his generosity knew no bounds. He made available his farm machinery and his workmen. He let the land to the club at a ridiculously low rent, believed to be less than a £1 an acre.

Below a report on the New Links on the shores of Strangford Lough in July 1929.

 

Mahee Island Golf Club, Strangford Lough Course. Co. Down. Report on the new links in July 1929.

Belfast News-Letter Wednesday 3rd July 1929. Image © Johnston Press plc. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

 

Fees in 1929.

 

Mahee Island Golf Club, Strangford Lough Course. Co. Down. Fees in 1929.

Northern Whig Thursday 11th July 1929.

 

The first recorded general meeting took place in the Andrews Memorial Hall in Comber on Friday 11th April 1930. David Boyd (hon. secretary) delivered a report of the events of 1929. This report showed that William Rennick Robinson from Bangor had been engaged as Course Designer and he supervised the work of John and Hugh Gabbey in the construction of the course. The course was opened for play on 26th June 1929.

Great credit should be given to the following who were prominent in setting up the club and bringing golf to Mahee Island;  Stanley Cather, James Thompson, George Clark (later Sir George), John Boyd, Hugh Boyd, David Boyd, Dr J C Johnston and Major C Blakiston-Houston.

It was reported that official opening of the club would take place on Saturday 31st May 1930 by Hugh C Kelly. The Marchioness of Londonderry (President,) presided at the event. An open mixed-foursome was to take place following the opening.

Below are pictures of the opening. The top image shows Hugh C Kelly driving the first ball.

 

Mahee Island Golf Club, Strangford Lough Course. Co. Down. Pictures of the opening of the course in June 1930.

 

Mahee Island Golf Club, Strangford Lough Course. Co. Down. Pictures of the opening of the course in June 1930.

 

Mahee Island Golf Club, Strangford Lough Course. Co. Down. Pictures of the opening of the course in June 1930.

 

Mahee Island Golf Club, Strangford Lough Course. Co. Down. Pictures of the opening of the course in June 1930.

Northern Whig Monday 2nd June 1930.

 

The club was affiliated at a meeting of The Golfing Union of Ireland in February 1931.

Exhibition Match September 1931.

 

Mahee Island Golf Club, Strangford Lough Course. Co. Down. Exhibition Match played in September 1931.

Belfast News-Letter Thursday 10th September 1931. Image © Johnston Press plc. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

 

Dr J G Johnston was elected captain at the annual meeting held in March 1933. The treasurer reported that the club was sound financially. It was also reported that considerable changes had been made on the course during the last few months, more especially with bunkering where sand had been used instead of the grass bunkers.

In May 1933 A E Anderson playing against G Spence, holed in one at the 120 yard eighth hole. Mr Anderson was a well known North Down cricketer.

Report on the annual meeting March 1937.

 

Mahee Island Golf Club, Strangford Lough Course. Co.Down. Report on the annual meeting March 1937.

Belfast Telegraph Thursday 4th March 1937. Image © Independent News and Media PLC. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

 

At the annual meeting was held in March 1938 David A Boyd was elected captain. Highly satisfactory reports were presented by the treasurer (John M Boyd) and secretary (David A Boyd.) Increases in all sources of income were reported. The outgoing captains – Mr & Mrs Jack Dowling – were thanked for their services to the club. Mr J M Boyd was re-elected hon. treasurer and J M Boyd, hon. secretary. Lady Londonderry was re-elected president. The council was re-elected with the addition of Jack Dowling. J McKeag and W Barry were re-elected hon. auditors. Handicap and Competition committee – J Hanna, J Gass, W J Faulkner, J McKeag and H Coulter. 

 Result of the monthly competitions played in April 1938; Monthly Bogey – J Allport (17) 2 down; S Allen (110 4 down; Monthly Stroke – A L Sweeney (11) 78 net; D A Boyd (15) 79 net; Prizes presented by Alex. Johnston, jnr. – H Scott (14) 69 net; J E Jones (3) 72 net; Ladies’ Stroke – Mrs Whitten (21) 67 net; Miss A Coulter (21) 70 net.

At the annual meeting held in February 1940 reports for the year showed that the club was in a sound financial position. Mr J Wilson MacMillan was elected chairman of the council; John M Boyd re-elected hon. treasurer; David A Boyd, hon. secretary; the ladies’ captain was Miss Steele. It was decided that members of H.M. forces should be hon. members of the club for the duration of the war. If wearing uniform or introduced by a member they would have free use of the course.

Result of competitions played in May 1941; Men (eclectic) – J Whitten, 32; J Smyth, 36; Ladies (stroke) – Miss M Dickson, 39; Mrs B Whitten, 42.

It was announced in May 1946 that the course was to be re-opened by Rt. Hon. John M Andrews on Saturday 4th .

From the Golfer’s Handbook 1947; Secretary – David A Boyd, Dalin Lodge, Mahee Island; Green-keeper, R Coey; Visitors’ fees, 2s/6d a day, 3s at weekends.

 

Mahee Island Golf Club, Strangford Lough Course. Celebrating the 21st anniversary in April 1950

Belfast News-Letter Thursday 13th April 1950. Image © Johnston Press plc. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

 

It was announced in March 1952 that subscriptions for male members had been reduced to £2/12s/6d, no entry fee. Visitors’ fees were 3 shillings a day, weekend, 4s. Applications for membership to be made to David A Boyd, Raymond H Boyd (joint hon. secretaries.)

The death was announced in September 1953 of Mr David A Boyd. He had been secretary of the Mahee Island Golf Club since its inception in 1929.

In the mid 1950s the secretary was R H A Boyd; green-keeper, W Marshall; 9-hole course measuring 2,730 yards with a par of 72, SSS of 71. 

In the mid 1960s the secretary was R H A Boyd; green-keeper, W Marshall; membership of 350.

The death was announced in March 1965 of William Stanley Cather, the founding member of the Mahee Island Golf Club.

The opening of the new clubhouse took place on Saturday 6th September 1969.

In the mid 1970s the secretary was W T Watt; professional, W Marshall; membership of 400; visitors’ fees, £1 a day, £1.50p at weekend.

From the 1982 and 1991 Golfer’s Handbook; Secretary, W T Watt (1982) T Reid (1991) ; professional W Marshall (1982); 9-holes measuring 2,790 yards, SSS 67; course records – amateur; C Boyd, 67; professional; N Drew, 66; visitors, £3.50 a day, £5 weekends (1982); £6 and £10 (1991.)

In 1998 the professional was Archie McCracken.

In the 2000s the hon. secretary was M Marshall.

 

Mahee Island Golf Club, Strangford Lough Course. Co. Down. Strangford Lough Course scorecard.

 

Mahee Island Golf Club, Strangford Lough Course. Co. Down. Course plan.

 

Mahee Island Golf Club, Strangford Lough Course. Co. Down. Pictures of the golf course.

 

Mahee Island Golf Club, Strangford Lough Course. Co. Down. Pictures of the opening of the course in June 1930.