History

The Club was founded in 1894. Its first Captain, later its first President, was J.M.C. Montagu.

Whatever the fits and starts of its early years, there can be no doubt now that those entrusted with the well being of the Club have their sights firmly fixed on the future. So perhaps it was a mistake to use the word “fulfilment” in the title of this final chapter. The fulfilment of one dream only clears the way for another. It isn’t even the final chapter for, if they still play golf a hundred years from now, you can be certain that they will be playing it at Portstewart.

- Extract from the final chapter ‘Fulfilment’ in the book ‘Portstewart Golf Club 1894-1994’ by Bill Rodgers

Courses & Clubhouses

The Old Course

    
 

The original 9 holes were laid out on 26 acres of land belonging to the Cromore Estate, on the seaward side of the County Road to Portrush at Portmore, east of the town. Unfortunately no map of the layout survives but the length was given in the Irish Golfers’ Annual of 1897 as 1,495 yards.

In June of 1904 an extension to this ground provided a more challenging nine holes and led to the employment of our first professional green keeper, David Simpson.

In 1916 the Club obtained an area of ground on the landward side of the County Road, sufficient to allow for its enlargement from 9 to 12 holes and these were opened for play in 1918.

In 1934 the Course was further enhanced to 18 holes, designed by Mr. R. C. Davison together with James Rea, the green keeper at the time. The layout was similar, in most respects, to that of the present day Course.

The Clubhouse

The first Clubhouse was built by John Frizzell, a local contractor in 1895 and the construction was of corrugated iron, on a wooden frame. It was situated close to the Portmore Road at the site of the present entrance to the Club carpark.

The “Tin Shack”, as it was affectionately known, lingered on until the opening in 1931 of the substantial building, designed by Mr. C. McFadden, which still stands today.

The Strand Course

A Special General Meeting was held in March 1907 to approve the building of a new links course at Strand Head, to the west of the town. The planning of this 18 hole golf course was left in the hands of Mr A. G. Gow of Portrush. The first competition on the new links was held in July 1908.

Since then The Strand Course has had several makeovers, one by the famous course architect, Willie Park in the early 1920’s.

In 1986 the land known as the Thistly Hollow was purchased and one of our own members, school teacher Des Giffin, designed the present 18 hole layout and a 9 hole course which became known as the Riverside which opened for play in 1990.

A further purchase of land in 1999 allowed the expansion of the latter to 18 holes, again designed in-house under the supervision of the Course Manager, Mr. Bernard Findlay and Past Captain Mr. David Avery;
"The Riverside" as we now know it, opened in 2003.

Strand Course Hole Names

The Clubhouse

The Clubhouse at the Strand Head has been changed several times.

In 1907 the original Clubhouse was a small cottage rented from the O’Neill family; this cottage was enlarged in 1912 to provide accommodation for the Professional and his family and rudimentary facilities for members.

A much larger Clubhouse, designed by Mr. C. McFadden was opened in 1928.

In the 1960’s a doubling of club membership led to steady improvements in the Clubhouse, as it was progressively enlarged and modernised to provide better accommodation and locker rooms, along with restaurant and bar areas.

Work on a completely new building started in January 2008 and was completed in May 2009.

The new Clubhouse was opened by Dr. J. A. McHugh, one of our longest serving members, and Andrew Hamilton, one of our youngest juvenile members, at a ceremony which took place on 19th September 2009.

At the same ceremony, the new Council Room was named after the late John Dalzell MBE, who as Building Convenor, played a major role in the successful development of this superb new facility.

Championships

Over The Years

Over the years Portstewart Golf Club has hosted many important events:

1931 First major competition to be held on the Strand Course was the Irish Native Professional Golf Championship which took place at the end of July.
1946 Portstewart hosted the Ulster Professional Golfers Championship.
1951 Portstewart was one of the qualifying stages of the British Open which was held at Royal Portrush.
1960 In the summer the Club played host for the first time to the Irish Amateur Close Championship.
1974 The IPGA Championships were again held in Portstewart. The winner was Eddie Polland who set a course record of 66 which was not beaten until 1991.
1982 & 1983 The Smirnoff Irish Ladies PGA Open was held in Portstewart. The 1982 winner was Linda Bromen of the USA. 1983 winner was Cathy Panton of Scotland.
1984 The Ulster Professional Championship, which returned after a gap of nearly 40 years, was won by Paul Leonard of Royal Co. Down with a score of 70.
1986 The All Ireland Mixed Foursomes.
1992 The Irish Amateur Close was held in Portstewart for the second time and was won by Gary Murphy of Limerick.
1995 GUI National Cups and Shields Finals
1998 Senior Inter-Provincials won by Leinster
2000 Ladies Senior Inter-Provincials also won by Leinster
2004 British Ladies Senior Championship won by Eva Ansgarius of Sweden
2006 British Girls Championship won by Belen Mozo of Spain.
British Girls Home Internationals won by Scotland.
2014 Amateur Championship won by Bradley Neil of Scotland.
2015 British Ladies Amateur Championship won by Celine Boutier of France.
2017 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, part of the European Tours’ Rolex Series, hosted by The Rory Foundation and won by Jon Rahm of Spain.

People

Portstewart Golfers

Ms Maureen Madill, now Mrs Garner, was undoubtedly the most successful golfer that Portstewart ever produced.

Among her many other achievements she was three times Ulster Ladies Champion, an Irish International from 1978 to 1985, British Amateur Stroke play Champion 1980, and British Ladies Match play Champion 1986. She can frequently be heard today commentating on golf.

Mr Des Ballantine, won the North of Ireland Amateur Championship in 1985.

Mr Paul Cutler, our youngest member at the age of just 20 won the East of Ireland Championship in 2009, won the 2010 Lytham Trophy, the 2011 Irish Amateur Close and West of Ireland Championship and represented Great Britain and Ireland on the Walker Cup Team 2011.

Secretaries

Before 1906 the secretaries included Marcus Gage JP, Lizzie Knox and JJ Flynn.

1906 brought the enthusiasm of Rev P. H. Blaikie to the role of secretary. It was stated in the AGM of 1919 that Rev. Blaikie was one of the finest secretaries in Ireland. He gave everyone a hearty welcome, ‘imparted all the knowledge possible and when going away, took them by the hand and asked them to come back.’

T. R. Dobbin of Lisburn became the secretary in April 1932. He was chosen from 75 applicants after the Rev Blaikie passed away. During his term of office he lent an indefinable air of relaxation to Club affairs.

Robert Ferguson succeeded T R Dobbin after his retirement. Although partially disabled by polio, he played an active role during a critical period in the Club’s history.

On his retirement in 1958 he was followed by Jack Armstrong who served the Club for 16 years before his retirement in 1974. He is commemorated in the Trophy which still bears his name.

In 1974 Major Robert Smith became secretary and coincidentally with his arrival, the Club hosted the Irish Professional Golfers’ Association Championship for the second time.

Lee Gage was secretary for a year from 1976-1977.

Mr Michael Moss, MBE, BA, took up the post in 1978 and steered the Club through many changes. Michael retired from post following the 2017 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open after 39 years in post – Michael has been the longest serving secretary/manager and has now also been awarded the MBE for services to golf and tourism.

Our current Manager is Ms Judith Hutton, originally from Ardglass in County Down. Judith joined the Club in 2017 prior to the hosting of Portstewart’s first Irish Open. A County Down native, Judith has relocated to Portstewart and has opened a new chapter in the colourful history of the Club.

The Professionals

In 1905 James McCurdy took up post as the club maker combined with caretaker of the club house. As well as refreshments, care of the building and the repair of golfing clubs, he was required to teach and play golf.

He remained with the club as caretaker of the Old Course until his passing in 1942.

In 1912 the extension to the Clubhouse on the Strand provided accommodation for the Club’s first full-time professional, Mr William Coltart of London. His duties also included those of Greenkeeper and, together with his wife, Caretaker and Caterer.

In 1916 William resigned as professional to take up a post at Cliftonville Club in Belfast.

In his place came Charlie Pope of Fortwilliam who was at that time The Irish Professional Champion. Charlie remained with the club until 1919.

William Coltart returned to fill the vacancy and remained at Portstewart until 1922.

James Rea took up the post of Professional in 1922. Once again sharing the duties of caretaker and caterer with his wife. He served the Club for 25 years until his retirement in 1947.

He was succeeded by Johnny Hunter who had learnt his trade during the 30’s alongside the legendary Fred Daly MBE and winner of the 1947 Open Championship at Hoylake.

Johnny remained in this post until his passing in 1974. He was remembered for his kindness and courtesy to members and visitors alike as “a Gentleman in the true sense of the word.”

After a short spell on the continent, Alan Hunter returned to Portstewart in 1975 to follow in his father’s footsteps and retired in 2013, making him Portstewart’s longest serving Professional at 38 years.

The Shop has since been in the hands of resident PGA Professional Neil Graham. Neil relocated to take up position from Portavogie, County Down.

Course Manager

In 1986 Bernard Findlay took up the new post of Course Manager and, in addition to the considerable day to day responsibilities of maintaining a 54 hole complex, he has been an invaluable asset in the major developments that have transformed golf at Portstewart in recent years.