IRISH GOLF TIMELINE - 1911

In the news

The 1911 edition of the Irish Golfers Guide recorded the number of golfers in Ireland was Men (16,095) and Women (7,245), a total of 23,340 (2009: c. 260,000). The big stories for the year were the return of Harry Vardon to the winning enclosure at the Open Championship after an absence of eight years. the formation of the Irish Professional Golfers' Association <click here> and Munn treble in the Irish Amateur Championship. For historians and genealogists the story of the year was the completion of the 1911 Census which would less than one hundred years later be put on-line <click here> together with the 1901 Census providing a snapshot of who the professional golfers, caddies and greenkeepers etc were in Ireland at a specific point in time.

Mr A. J. Orr, the man who first put forward the argument that golf actually originated in Ireland but also the suggestion that stymie originates from the Irish word "stuaim" meaning skill or from the saying: Ta on fear eile taobh a stiogh dhiom" meaning the one man has got the upper hand of another.

At caddies strike at Portmarnock had been averted by beginning of April. The whole question that young people at school leaving age should be taking on the occupation of caddies rather than taking up a trade was brought up in the House of Commons and it was Mr Churchhill who responded: "The occupation of a golf caddie is peculiarly unsuited to young persons and peculiarly suited for adult persons not suited to active labour or partially incapacitated for some cause." and goes on to suggest the clubs should employ the services of the labour exchanges when taking on caddies which should help with the situation. Later in the year the Middleton caddies went on strike for the rate of three pence was felt too low for nine holes and they were holding out for four pence and halfpenny before they would lift another bag. A similar situation had occurred in Bray.

Tales were offen told to the Golf Correspondent of the Irish Times (Hewson) of nursing handicaps and he felt, in an incredibly prescient statement, that it's unlikely we'll ever get rid of "roping", as it was called at the time, in golf . By October Pat Doyle was listed as a dis-engaged professional and was now seeking work, the following year he would head to Cork with the intention of boarding the Titanic.

Publications

Ireland is a poor country judge from a mercenary standpoint. This is the only reason I can find for the ridiculously low price (1s) for The Irish Golfers Guide. The World of Golf

H.B. Wood book Golfing Curios and the like appeared on the shelf. A .D. La Touche writes an article for the Irish Field 'The Growing Slackness in Golf". May Hezlet was still writing for Fry's Magazine.

Course design and development

Little Island is turned into an eighteen-hole layout. Record of a private course owned by Lord Barrymore at Fota between Little Island and Rushbrooke. The Earl of Courtown officially opened the links at Gorey on 25 February 1911 and Ardee GC (formerly call the South Louth GC) was founded in 1911.

The new Finglas Golf Club was at first called the 'North Suburban' and it was considered an irrational choice, as nobody would know where it was actually located. Me Cecil Bancroft had completed the designs for the additional holes at Kingstown (Dun Laoghaire). Cliftonville golf club was formed in March 1911 and formally opened in the presence of the Lord Mayor of Belfast in August, at which stage the membership numbered 300. Fees at Dollymount were 2s (3s) with a member and 3s (5s) otherwise Mon-Fri (Sat/Sun).

Clonmel, Cliftonville, Ardee and Boyle would celebrate their centenary years in 2011 while Howth Golf Club recognises its centenary year as 2016 although there is evidence of a course layout at Howth by Cecil Barcroft in 1911.

Equipment and Invention

Barcroft also expressed his concern that the golf ball was evolving too fact and its gallop should be halted to the extent that the only good golf ball was one that floats lest it renders the current course obsolete despite all the current golf balls couldn't float. Hewson, the voice of reason, suggested the Barcroft, a course designer, had some rationale for putting forward this contention it was unlikely that golfers would return to the gutty at this stage. Although Hewson felt golf manufacturers were unlikely to progress the golf ball much further but in either case one should rely on Providence.

Elverys New Gipsy golf ball 1s 9d, gloves 2s 6d (pair) and brogue shoes and boots 17s 6d. Golf corset 5/- at Walpole's (Suffolk Street). The New Gipsy Golf Ball 1s 9d. The Patent Colonel was reduced in price to 2s while the new White Colonel would remain at 2s6d with 6d and 8d allowed against old versions of the same. Hood was selling the midget Emerald at 1s 6d from his shop at 73 Middle Abbey Street. Spalding's "Midget Dimple" was considered by Elvery's to be the golf ball of choice for 1911, they were based at 46-47 Lower Sackville Street.

The large-sized ball, the red spot, is well known as a reliable ball, which has also the advantage of floating - a most consoling matter when water is prevalent. The light small ball or green spot is pleasant to us on a still day or with the wind. The heavy small ball or black spot is a delightful one in the wind and goes of the club with a keenness that will make a beginner happy.

The better players consider the Sunningdale type clubs to be the best club around and McKenna (James) in Portmarnock was selling a considerable number of this type of club.

Advt: Golfers wanting first-class long faced wooden clubs should send to T. Walker professional at Greystones. All clubs guaranteed best material and finish.

Rules

Mr George Combe proposes the sub-division of the Ireland into provinces for administration purposes as the activities of the GUI were becoming too difficult to handle this meant the set up of four sub-unions or branches. He also proposed that each province have their own championship course and the rota be change from Newcastle, Portrush, Dollymount and Portmarnock. Combe wanted also to see the end of the Amateur Close Championship but none were probably likely to happen in the near future if at all. Combe was chiefly responsible for the GUI formation and any suggestions he made should be considered seriously. Combe other resolution was to approach the Welsh Union with a view to considering an international board for arranging championship fixtures and courses rather than the Championship Green Selection Committee which once again closed Ireland out of the selection process for the Amateur championship. Hewson had referred to this as a 'thunderbolt from the north' but later downgraded it to a 'gentle zephyr from the Chilly North' and felt there was little merit to either resolution at this stage.

Championships

Ladies' Home Internationals Royal Portrush Golf Club 12-13 May 1911

By the end of day one Ireland were well and truly out of the running losing 5 and 4 to Scotland and losing to England by 8 to 1 in the afternoon. The only notable exception was the appearance of Mrs Ross to play Dorothy Campbell, the then holder of the American and Canadian championship now residing in Canada, at the 19th hole. Equally surprising was her defeat to Miss Cecil Leith, the then twenty-year-old by 7 and 6. In the end England claimed the Miller Shield amongst the three nations taking part.

Ladies Amateur Championship 16-19 May - Royal Portrush Golf Club

A very strong contingent of lady golfers congregated at the Portrush links for the Championship in fact you'd be hard pressed to come up with a name that wasn't taking part and included Ravenscroft, Campbell, the Hezlets, Harrison, Leitch and even Janet Jackson who was probably still in her teens. The early rounds were marked by Mrs Ross quick exit and the titanic clash between Cecil Leitch finally losing to Galdys Ravenscroft (crowned champion in 1912) on the 22nd hole but not before throwing away a few chances. It may have been a chance meeting with James Edmundson that led this professional to take up a position at Bromborough, the club where Gladys Ravenscroft was a member and Edmundson is attributed no small part in her success the following year. By the third round only Violet Hezlet and Mrs Pim remained of the cohort with the latter making it all the way to the final where two spectators followed Miss Hezlet and Dorothy Campbell battling for the title, Miss Hezlet put up a valiant effort but eventually lost by 3 and 2 against undoubtedly the best player in the world at the time.

The mainly peripheral action surrounding both of the ladies events are recorded in Eleanor E. Helme's book After the Ball: Merry Memoirs of a Golfer in a chapter aptly titled Pleasant Portrush in 1911. In it she talks of lobsters, excursions on the Sabbath to Dunluce Castle and the Giants Causeway, why parents of golfers should not patronise championship, the Ravenscroft and Leitch match, and how snowshoes ought not to be good preparation for winning a championship.

The Amateur Championship 29 May - 2 June Prestwick

Before relaying the outcome of the Amateur Championship - Portmarnock's claim to the 1912 championship was rejected in favour of Westward Ho.! with Darwin arguing that the two voyages needed to get to the course was it downfall while his Irish counterpart claimed that this was nothing more than and Argumentum ad Hominemon on Darwin's part and that the once great seafaring nation must be turning in its grave. Naturally the converse would then make an Irish man's journey to win the championship and truly heroic act of not only golf but also seafaring skills - which leaves Travis journey and victory nearly incomprehensible.

Munn was the only Irish player to make it to the fourth round where he beat the Italian H L Gow but succumbed to a surprise defeat in the fifth by J L Jenkins of Troon by 2 and 1, who in turn lost to Hilton. In the closing stages of the Amateur Championship at Prestwick it was inexperience that got the better of Stevens (who had beaten Abe Mitchell by 2 and 1 earlier in the day) one of semi-finalists as he fell foul of two rulings (i) grounding his club in a hazard (shrub) and (ii) taking a line from his caddie in both cases Lassen his opponent claimed the hole and with it Stevens game unravelled despite being three up by the sixth-hole. In the end the Prestwick committee on appeal upheld Lassen's victory of 2up. All this shenanigans overshadowed Hilton's victory over Gordon Lockhart by 4 and 3, which was coincidentally the same margin he secured victory against Lassen in the final. However Lassen put up a held of a fight to the extent they were all square after 18 and at one stage he was three up in the course of the second round until such time as Hilton discovered his putting touch and quickly reeled his opponent back in.

Irish Ladies Championship 30 May - 2 June - Malahide Island

The surprise of the early rounds was the defeat of Miss Janet Jackson, who was just beginning to make a name for herself, in the first round and Mrs Ormsby in the third. By the semi-finals the dye was cast as Miss Mabel Harrison was in one side of the draw against Miss Shiela Tobin who had a surprise victory over Miss Violet Hezlet by one up and the other side saw Miss Florence Walker-Leigh faced-off against Miss E Renny Tailyour. The final was as expected even if the route taken by one of the finalists, Miss Leigh, wasn't as convincing as Miss Harrison and this fed through to the final as she claimed the title by a margin of 6 and 4 which no doubt went down well by the partisan crowd as the champion was playing out of the Island.

Exhibition matches

Between 30 October and 2 November Royal County Down had engaged Harry Vardon's services and on it would also entail a strokeplay competition for 5 handicaps and under. It was also intended that John Ball would team up with Vardon to play Munn and Moran. O'Hare had just been appointed to Foxrock at this stage. The course stretched 6604 yards and Vardon felt it would be better served if it had fifty more bunkers.

30 October: Vardon (75 course record - three better than Sandy Herd) and Mr George Combe vs Mr Crichton and Alex Robertson. Vardon and Combe won by 3 and 2 as Robertson wasn't at his best. At the turn of the twentieth century Combe was referred to as the High Priest of Irish golf and gets much of the credit for the layout for the world renowned Royal County Down golf links. Until he got his hands on it Portrush (even by his own admission was the better golf course) and he set about remedying the situation.
30 October: Lord Annesley and Vardon vs Mr D. W. Smyth and M. Moran but match abandoned on the 12th due to torrential rain.

31 October: Vardon (78 winning 3 and 2) vs best ball of Robertson, Coates and Martin
31 October: Vardon and Mr Robinson (won 2 and 1) vs Moran and Mr Whyte.

31 October: Mr H.M. Cairnes and Lord Annesley beat Mr Vernon Macan and Mr John Ball by 1 up.

1 November: Vardon (72) would team up with Patrick O'Hare (won 3 and 2) against Michael Moran and A. Robertson ( 74).
1 November: Vardon (76) would team up with Robertson (won 6 and 5) against Michael Moran (pulling shots badly) and Mr John Ball.

2 November: Vardon (75) (won 3 and 2) vs best ball of John Ball and H. Cairnes (the so-called father of Portmarnock Golf Club)
2 November: Vardon (won 3 and 1) vs Michael Moran each lost a ball

3 November Vardon to play three-ball match at Malone Golf Club AH Paterson and A.H. Craig (Vardon lost as his putting was off)

4 November Vardon to play an exhibition match at Holywood against Harold Reade and G B Long and got the better of them.

The Irish Professional Championship 8-9 June 1911 - Royal Portrush Golf Club

Michael Moran led after the first two rounds by three strokes with James Edmundson his nearest challenger. The O'Hare brothers were in the field with Peter (Milltown, Co. Cork) getting the better of his brother Patrick who was playing out of Rushbrooke. Moran won on a score of 310 (78,81,78,73) from Jas Edmundson with Patrick finishing with a 75 and leapfrogged his brother into fourth place just after Hughie McNeill. Both Edmundson and McNeill recorded course record 75s (previously) in the third round but it was short-lived as Moran's 73 took another sizeable chip of the previous course record.

Earlier on in the year Moran was having trouble with driving which he appeared to have remedied and went round Dollymount in 69 (32,37) on winter greens. He recovered an old driver from Mr Howard, the steward, which appears to have resolved the problems. Mr Barcroft is noted as laying out the new course at Howth.

James Edmundson was not engaged by a club when the IPC was being played but was based at Portrush. In the professional vs amateur event which followed the IPC, Moran beat Munn by 4 and 3. Sunday is a dies non at Portrush so players had to make alternative arrangements to entertain themselves most of who were based in the Northern Counties hotel.

In June 1911 golfers met at the Northern Counties hotel in Portrush and hatched the formation of the Irish Professional Golfers Association (IPGA) to look at its members interests with Thomas Hood, James McKenna, John Aitken and Alex Robertson included in the joint committee (amateur and professional) to draw up a constitutional framework.

Within a few weeks of the IPGA being set up some thirty members has enrolled with Stuart Anderson, Rev J. L. Morrow and Justice Barton agreeing to join the committee. The subscription was ten schillings per annum. The benevolent fund was to assist out of work professionals who had few other avenues for support. Tom Hood was the honorary secretary and all applications to join should be forwarded to him at the Royal Dublin GC.

Irish Close Championship 13 -15 June - Royal Portrush Golf Club

The early rounds saw A.V. Macan make a huge impression with 9 and 8 victories over F.B. Newett and 7 and 6 victory over W. J. Carroll. The final eight gave a fair representation of where the power in Irish amateur golf lay with Munn (a varsity player), Macan, La Touche, Cairnes, Reade and Boyd. By the final Munn and Boyd were left standing beating Coole and La Touche in the semi-finals. Munn who is generally considered the best golfer in Ireland romped home to a 7 and 6 victory in front of few spectators it has to be said. Munn is considered to be the truest hitter of the driver amongst the amateurs. [Keep the left arm stiff making a straight-line down the forearm, wrist and hand and bring back the club with the right-hand.] This advice from Munn is unorthodox but nobody can question its effectiveness.

A player at Wicklow hit two balls into the sea and the caddie swam out to retrieve them one in his hand the other in his mouth now that's an excellent caddie.

The Open Championship 26-29 June 1911 - Royal St. Georges, Sandwich

Duncan led the 73 qualifiers into the final day's play on 144 trailed by Vardon, Taylor and Ray on 148 with Moran two further back with a group of four in joint fifth position. Moran had one of the best first rounds with a 72 but a 78 moved him down the field. A five on the eleventh during the second round when he was bunkered seemed to derail Moran having gone out in 36. The holes at Sandwich were being changed during the qualifying rounds which caused some objections from the players as everybody wasn't playing the same course. The Open Championship ended in a tie between Vardon and Massy with Vardon winning the 36-hole play-off by 10 strokes and bridge a gap of eight years since his last win in the event. Michael Moran finished in a tie for twenty-first position with Lionel Munn a further twenty positions behind him, Hugh Mc Neill and the two MacNamaras (Willie and John) hadn't made it beyond the second round of the championship.

Dunlop's Orange Spot "Juniors" contended it had one the five majors. The Dunlop Rubber Company is gone into golf balls in a big way the large sized, red spot (floats in water), the light green spot and the heavy small ball or black spot which is delightful in the wind a releases from the club head at pleasureable speed. 2s each.

Irish Amateur Open Championship 28 August - 1 September 1911 Portmarnock Golf Club

The Ho.n M Scott (Royal North Devon) an ex-australian champion and Lionel Munn were the two finalists in the championship at Portmarnock. Very optimistically the final two rounds were set for 11am and 2.30pm. Both had reasonable easy passages to the final with Munn defeating J.S. Kennedy of Turnberry by 3 and 2 while Scott defeated J.L.C Jenkins of Troon by 4 and 3 although H K Mitchell gave him a run for his money in the previous round. Munn comprehensively won the final by 7 and 6 and his three successive wins were a record only surpassed by Hilton who won three from 1900-1902 but also won the 1897 championship. Scott had the better of the early exchanges covering the first nine in 34 strokes but despite this was only one up. A large crowd were following the match which swelled into the thousands as the afternoon round began at 2.30 as appointed. Munn's 74 in the strokeplay events before the event clocked a new course record for the altered course.

South of Ireland Championship 4- 7 September Lahinch Golf Club

S.H. Fry an ex billiard champion recorded a course record 72 in the strokeplay contest held prior to the main event.

"The whole charm of Lahinch lies in its unique holes and tricky greens. Puttng is a high art here and sometimes one has almost to putt in the opposite direction to the hole in order to end up near it."

Most of the favourites went through the first two rounds with consummate ease and these include Munn, Cairnes, Fry, Macan, Jameson and Boyd but the third and fourth left a trail of destruction with Jameson falling to L.P. Vernon the Sligo player while F.S. Bond of Royal Wimbledon ended Cairnes and Macan's involvement in the event. Kennedy taking out Fry probably wasn't that unexpected given the former showing in the Irish Amateur. The last four standing were Munn, Bond, Kennedy and Vernon. In the end Munn beat Kennedy by 7 and 5 after holding a lead of six up after the first eighteen.

Continental European Championships

1911 saw Peter Gannon's success in the Swiss Open Amateur Championships.


US Championships

US Amateur Championship

Harold Hilton won the American Amateur Golf Championship 16 September 1911.

US Women's Amateur Championship

Margaret Curtis beat Lilian B. Hyde at Baltusrol Golf Club by 5 and 3

US Open Championship

John J. McDermott at Chicago Golf Club Wheaton Illinois

 

Sources:

Royal and Ancient Championship Records 1860-1980

The Royal County Down Golf Club: The First Century 1889-1989: McCaw and Henderson

 

 

 
 

 

 

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