IRISH GOLF TIMELINE - 1909
One hundred years ago the issues
that played on golfers minds were; Sunday play, croquet mallet
putters, the virtues of the smooth vs bramble golf ball and the
state of the handicapping system.
The Irish Field brought out the
Irish Field Golfer's Guide in 1909 it was considered a significant
breakthrough in promoting golf in Ireland.
THE IRISH FIELD
Price ONE PENNY
THE OLDEST SPORTING PAPER IN IRELAND
A record drive of
469 yards was recorded over the North Berwick golf course by W.H.
Horne, it exceeded Edward Blackwell's record by 100 yards. The
longest featherie drive was recorded by a Frenchman at St. Andrews
in 1858, it was 361 yards.
Gambling was not prevalent on
the golf courses of Ireland unlike their counterparts across the
water who considered it an intrinsic part of the weekend singles
or fourball. As one Irish Times journalist (who obviously like
the occasional flutter) put it: "bookmakers on the course
would be excellent people in the wrong place."
Many golf clubs started in 1909
including Laytown & Bettystown, Bandon, Thurles, Dun Laoghaire,
and Douglas golf clubs were all instituted in 1909. Others like
Charleville and Stillorgan Park golf clubs were formed but didn't
last, at least, as is the case of Charleville not in their original
form. By June Stillorgan Park golf course already had 225 male
members and 125 female members, Murray was the professional, a
protege of James McKenna, while at Portmarnock. It was 2,500 yards
with a bogey 37 but wasn't scheduled for regular play until the
following year. Omagh and Dundrum (Co. Dublin) are also mentioned
as courses starting in 1909.
Lionel Hewson was captain of Dun
Laoghaire GC (or Kingstown GC as it was called then ) in its inaugural
year, and commented that historians would remember two years in
relation to Kingstown, 1817 for the building of the pier and 1909
for the formation of the golf club. Co-incidentially he was the
editor of the Irish Golfers' Guide for 1910 and for the magazine
The Irish Golfer.
The Midland Great Western re-opened
the Mallranny golf on the Achill extension line of the Midland
Great Western Railway. The course was originally designed by Tom
Toome Club on the shores of Lough
Neagh was created in place of a previously defunct course and
Alec Day was appointed professional with George Baillie and John
Black the driving forces behind the club. Despite backing from
such notable luminaries the course didn't appear in the Golfer's
Guide the following year.
The Elvery's New Gipsy golf ball
cost 1s 6d, gloves 2s 6d, a pair and brogues and boots cost anywhere
between 17s 6d and 21s. Tweed golfing skirts 10s 22d. Dunlop Orange
Spot, Haskell Royal, Kite, Baby Kite, Kempshall, Gipsy and Golden
Kite golf balls, the latter claiming forty yards on its contemporaries,
seemed to have been the missiles in vogue at the time.
It was noted in the Irish Times
("IT") that Killarney had invested in a motorised lawn
mower at a cost of £100, the IT special correspondent felt
it was probably the first of its kind in Ireland.
1909 saw the introduction of the
"Dreadnaught" golf club which was much publicised after
Robert Maxwell won the Amateur Championship with the club. The
club was a broader and deeper version of the existing clubs and
in someways similar to "The Bap" developed by John Aitken
from the Royal County Club (now Royal Portrush GC). However, this
club had a whippy shaft with the suppleness focused near the grip.
Basically it gave you greater distance if you were already a good
golfer but could prove unforgiving in the wrong hands, the secret
(it is said) was to let the club do the work and don't force the
shot. Probably the Big Bertha of its day.
It was becoming a part of the
golfing landscape for two professionals to issue a challenge to
all comers to foursome match : Professional Challenge Match. Edmundson
and Hamill had defeated Kidd and Pope in a similar match and Moran
and McKenna were now throwing down the gauntlet for a 72 holes
event over two courses.
An eagerly awaited match between
Edmundson and Moran took place over the Dollymount course, whose
members put up the purse, on the 30 April 1909. Moran was considered
by some to have an ugly but very effective swing and Edmundson,
the visitor, had won the first two Irish Professional Championships
and rightfully considered the best professional at the time. The
match had already been postponed through illness, a bronchial
infection, on the part of Edmundson and he hardly seemed to have
fully recovered. The match was played in strong winds and rain
so it would be difficult to use it to guage their pecking order.
After thirty-six holes the match ended in a draw with Moran shooting
79,86 to 82,83.
In late July Harry Vardon played
a best ball of John F. MacNamara (Muskerry GC) and Brown at the
Little Island GC he was at the time on a visit for the purpose
of laying out the Douglas Golf Club's new course. Vardon was level
at the end of the eighteen holes but his lack of knowledge of
the links was his main obstacle as his golf was seen as far superior
to that of of his opponents. Vardon joined forces with McNamara
to play Brown and Le Folly (Middleton) winning the match one up.
This match delayed the MacNamara's arrival at the professional
competition being played in the Curragh the following day.
Harry Vardon (77,71) played Michael
Moran (78,75) at Delgany on the 18 September. The primary reason
for his visit was to improve the difficulty of the course which
was relatively bunkerless.
Michael Moran vs Fred Smyth 9
October 1909 - Moran won comfortably 4up after 36 holes at Hermitage
the final 36 to be played at Dollymount 20 October 1909. The prize
was for a substantial purse put up by the members of both clubs.
Moran 77,29 to Smyth (82, 32) with Moran eventually winning 12
US Ladies golf
No golfer is afraid of a true
lady golfer. A "true lady golfer" embraces many qualities
which the majority of lady players can never hope to acquire.
The 1909 US Ladies'
Amateur Championship was played at Merion and there were sixty-seven
starters of which 32 reached the matchplay stages. Nonna Barlow,
a native of County Waterford, lost to Dorothy Campbell in the
final by 3 and 2. Campbell was the reigning British and Scottish
Amateur champion but despite this Nonna Barlow was able to hold
her off until the thirteenth.
The Rules of Golf
The year ushered in a changes
in the rules of golf:
· Upon hitting the ball
out of bounds from the tee area you could now tee-up the ball
again. Hitting out of bounds from anywhere else meant taking a
· Dropping would be done from over the shoulder and not
the head as in the past.
· You could no longer sweep the line of a putt with your
hand and dirt, snow and other impediments could only be removed
with a club but by not applying more weight than that of the club
· You could now take relief from casual water whether you
were lying in it or if it interfered with your line to the hole.
You could now drop two clubs behind where the ball rested or the
nearest point of relief to this.
· Also playing a putt while the opponent's ball is still
in motion would result in the loss of the hole rather than the
loss of a stroke as was previously the case.
Irish Professional Championship
On the 14th May 1909 the IPC thirty-six-hole
final was played over the Newcastle links with Michael Moran comprehensively
beating Harry Kidd the Malone professional by 9 & 7. Accounts
of the match recall Kidd securing an early three hole lead with
Moran bringing the match all square by the turn. Moran proceeded
to win four of the next five holes but lost the next two leaving
the match with a two up lead at the half way stage. The final
eighteen saw Moran playing great golf as he was out in thirty
nine despite high winds leaving him seven up and followed it by
winning the first two holes on the inward journey to secure the
match and his first victory in the championship. This year was
the last year for the matchplay format and the eighth qualifiers
for the matchpaly stages were:
M. Moran (Royal Dublin) beat F.
Bacon (Royal Portrush) 3 & 2
F Smith (Hermitage) beat H. Hamill (Ormeau) 3 & 2
H. Kidd (Malone) beat H. Ms Neill (Royal Portrush) 2 & 1
C. W. Pope (Fortwilliam) beat James Edmundson (Bangor) 2 &
Moran beat Smith 5 & 4
Kidd beat Pope 5 & 4
Moran beat Kidd 9 & 7
Other Professional tournaments
On July 23-24 the Curragh was
handed over to professionals who wished to qualify for the News
of the World £240 tournament two players would qualify from
the Irish section. The prelude was a PGA strokeplay competition
over thirty-six holes which was won by Harry Kidd (73,72) with
Moran and Pope in second place (73,77) won the Irish qualifying
section over thirty-six holes. Moran won his place in the News
of the World after scoring 148 while Kidd and Robertson would
play-off for the final place both finishing on 152. A curious
incident would arise when it was later believed the Kidd may have
signed for the wrong score albeit that an official marker was
on hand to count and mark the cards. A three rather than a four
may have been provided for on the basis of an answer given by
a spectator. Presumably as Kidd was not offering to retract his
score he felt the correct score had been lodged the Curragh GC
made a statement in an IT editorial that the cards would stand
an and additional £5 be put up as prize-money for the play-off.
In the end the IPGA disqualified Harry Kidd in the News of the
World qualifier upon Kidd's acknowledgement of the error. In the
end both Robertson and Moran were beaten in the first round of
the News of the World tournament.
British Amateur Championship
(25-29 May Muirfield)
Prior to the championship there
was a proposal put by Edinburgh Burgess that the rota be changed
to include an Irish club (Dollymount was stated example) by 1912.
At the time the Amateur Championship was in the hands of the clubs
on the rota (Hoylake, St. Andrews, Prestwick, Sandwich and Muirfield).
Alas a new club was added to the rota but it was Westward Ho!
Who hosted the event in 1912. It was recognised (in the would
turkeys vote for Xmas category) that the only chance Ireland had
of hosting the championship was if the Royal and Ancient were
given control of the event.
There were a few scalps taken
in the third and fourth rounds at Muirfield and Munn's win over
James Robb the 1906 champion gave some hope of an Irish victory.
Munn was now playing out of Londonderry rather than the usual
Dublin University affiliation. Munn went out in the next (fourth)
round to Captain C.K. Hutchison on his home turf and this together
with Dickson's exit ended Irish involvement in the Championship.
Irish Ladies Close Championship
(4-6 May - Lahinch)
The end of an era was ushered
in when, on 10th March a presentation was made to May Hezlet by
the ILGU for her contribution to Irish Golf. Her marriage on the
27 April meant she would not be defending her title at the out-of-the-way
venue at Lahinch.
The sixteenth championship was
played at Lahinch and despite the loss of Miss Hezlet the championship
had the other Hezlet sisters, Mabel Harrison, Florence Walker-Leigh
and Amy F. Ormsby. While Florence Hezlet's early exit was unexpected
the appearance of three of the last four in the Championship wasn't,
the exception being Amy who had really figured in the event before
Few at this stage would have bet
against Miss Walker-Leigh, the 1907 champion. Amy Ormsby, the
County Sligo player was quietly making her way through the rounds
despite not having everything her own way. Amy faced Miss Walker-Leigh
in the semi-final causing an upset by winning the match by 4 &
2 to take her place in the final against Miss Violet Hezlet. In
the final she found herself three down but recovered quickly to
the extent of being dormy in the lead by the fifteenth. In the
end Amy took the next hole closing the match out by another 4
& 2 margin.
Later, Amy Ormsby would emigrate
to South Africa with her husband Larry Vernon (winner of the inaugural
West of Ireland championship) where she would win four South African
(SA) Ladies' Championships, an event coincidently instituted in
1909. Her first win in 1922 was as a member of Mowbray but later
victories (1925,26,34) were as a member of Royal Johannesburg.
One hundred years later Mrs A F Vernon would be balloted for induction
into the SA hall of fame.
British Ladies Championship
(17-21 May - Birkdale)
The 1909 Championship was played
at Royal Birkdale and Florence Hezlet was again denied the ultimate
prize in Ladies' golf by being beaten 4 and 3 by Dorothy Campbell
Hurd. Florence had lost to her more famous sister May in the 1907
final at Newcastle. Miss Campbell was the steadier player and
while Florence showed moments of brilliance it wasn't sufficient
to sustain a credible challenge.
Irish Open Championship (30
August-3 September - Dollymount)
102 entrants but despite the inability
to attract Robert Maxwell, Hilton or Hutchinson a first class
field did show up. By the fifth round Munn was the last Irish
person standing while he had a close first round match against
J D Gardinier from there is passage proved reasonable unimpeded
including a fourth round match against his brother Ector, whom
he defeated by 6 and 4. In the fifth round Munn beat H.E. Taylor
(Richmond's Gate) by 6 and 5 and had another emphatic win over
J.D. Lyttle (Burntisland) by the same margin. J.D. Lyttle would
go on to win the South of Ireland championship at Lahinch between
8-12 September. In the final he beat Robert Garson the Scottish
golfer from Troon GC by 2 up. It wasn't until the last nine of
the thirty-six hole final that the match got really interesting.
Munn had gone into lunch four up and held onto that lead until
the turn but heading for home started to miss small putts and
the margin was being reeled in. Fortunately he held on to become
only the second Irish winner in eighteen outings of the championship.
Irish Amateur Close Championship
(18 May - May - Newcastle)
There were fifty entrants for
this event, some of whom, for whatever reason, entered anonymously
or under a nom-de-golf. Lionel Munn decided to defend his title
despite suggestions that he might concentrate on the Amateur Championship.
Munn got a bit of a scare in the third round when he turned three
down against P.F. Jameson, the Malahide player but didn't lose
a hole from there in eventually closing out the match on the seventeenth
by 2 & 1. The next round saw Munn defeated by Mr D. Martin,
the Royal Dublin player, on the fourth extra tie hole. In the
final it was another Dublin University player, A.H. Patterson
who took the laurels against E.F. Spiller from Malone G.C. It
was at all times a close match and nothing separated them and
it eventually took the first extra tie hole to decide the contest.
Munn would play an exhibition
match against Harold Hilton on the 26 June to celebrate Ormeau's
new nine-hole course. Lionel Munn won the thirty-six-hole competition.
Hilton, the chain smoking golfer with the "piccolo"
grip had two Amateur and Open Championships to his name and while
he experience a lull in his golf since 1901 when many thought
he was a spent force until 1909 when he began showing some of
his old form. It was a significant scalp for Munn but he was unable
to translate it into a win in either of the events that stand
testament to your legacy in the golfing firnament.