In the news

In 1912 the issue exorcizing the golfing industry was the standardisation of the golf ball but not the rubber-cored golf ball as might be expected but the gutty ball as certain quarters yearned for the days when there was an art required to manoeuvring and hitting the ball long distances. The rubber-cored ball (a ball formed from a solid rubber core, wrapped in rubber thread and encased in a gutta percha sphere) invented in 1898 was the standard for golf balls since the early 1900s and it was making a mockery of shorter golf courses while allowing less accomplished players to reach greater heights. The gutty was a ball made from gutta percha formed into the shape of a ball using a mould which meant it could be repaired and remoulded. The views from golfers were sought and generally it was considered not a good idea to return to the Gutty but it was far from unanimous. Even Vardon who yearned for a return to the Gutty accepted that it probably wasn't in the best interests of the game.

The Titanic sinking was also big news this year and Pat Doyle's good fortune at having missed his passage on the ship. Another golfer wasn't so lucky - Captain E. V. Knox of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers was one of the nine lives lost when on the 12 March 1912 the Pisagua hit the Oceana, the P&O steamship on which Knox was travelling to India, amid ship, creating a 40 feet long gash in her side.

The question of handicapping or rather individuals nursing their handicaps and 'wrapping in it cotton wool' until the appropriate competition arrived so it could be taken out for a test drive to see what it could do. The fact that golfers were able to hit the ball further reduced the gap between average and very good golfers, as many would see the long iron as the more difficult of shots to master, but the handicaps weren't being breached quickly enough to reflect this fact.

A coal strike was likely to impact the railways and hotels over the Easter holidays and the anti-Home Rule protests were likely to impact the Easter meetings at a number of the Northern Ireland venues including Portrush.

In 1912 A. J. Robertson, the founder and editor of Golf which was later incorporated into Golf Illustrated. He died from blood poisoning caused by a wound from a rusty nail in a golf shoe.

Mr A. J. Robertson resigned his duties as Editor of Golf, and said some words of farewell to his readers and contributors in the issue of July 1, 1898. Every golfer knows how much the literature of the game is indebted to Mr. Robertson, and how much he has done and still does for its intelligent appreciation, with his clever and facile pen.

Bettystown won a twelve man team event against Baltray by 7 1/2 to 3 1/2 on the winning team was Thomas Kettle the champion of Home Rule who died at Ginchy in the Battle of the Somme on 9 September 1916.

A member of the Omagh Golf Club Dr. R. Sproule, a Bostonian, won the International Golf Championship of Belgium at the Royal Belgique Links, Ostende between 8-10 August.

A proposal was made for a Golf Club Union of Great Britain and Ireland based out of London was being touted. It was hoped it could co-exist with the existing unions but it was doomed to failure.


Harry Vardon's book: How to Play Golf hit the shelves in 1912. It was a follow on from his earlier book The Complete Golfer.

A new Insurance Act had all but eliminated caddies of sixteen year of age and older. The Agenda Club went into the issue of what becomes of caddies in reaching his sixteenth year and its report and recommendations were published by Mr Heinmann under the title "The Rough and the Fairway". The recommendations were as follows:

a club should employ only men or only boys as caddies

if boys are employed:

there is a duty on the club to train them for alternative employment (minor forms of agriculture or rougher forms of carpentry.

Keep caddies informed of job vacancies in Navy or Army

pay fixed weekly wage with tips being extra

their schoolmaster should have a say

Mr P. A. Vaile the irrepressible theorist published a new book "The Soul of Golf".

Course design and development

The Irish Times refers to Clonmel Golf Club having engaged Tom Travers to lay out the course in January which was 2,855 yards in length.

Founded in 1912, Waterford Golf Club is situated on a hill overlooking the historic city of Waterford in the Sunny South East of Ireland. Originally a nine hole course laid out by Cecil Barcroft the current layout shares designers with the front 9 was designed by Willie Park (twice Open Champion), and the back 9 was designed by the great James Braid, five times Open Champion. The club had 120 members by the time it was partially opened on 1 May 2012.

John Lumsden offered to take the council to the Phoenix Park and show them where he laid out his original golf course there back in 1885. Lumsden still had the designs if they wished to build a municipal golf course.

Clontarf Golf Club was founded in 1912 and it was Dr. John Love Morrow who played the biggest part in ensuring it happened. Both the City of Derry and Banbridge golf clubs were formed in 1912.

The Tramore Golf Club had new course laid out by Willie Park as the old course had suffered from coastal erosion.

Equipment and Invention

The main issue of the year was the standardisation of the golf ball and if it should be done, how it should be done; weight, diameter or even whether it could float. It would be a further nine years before it was achieved but both the USGA and R&A had different standards set. It was felt the current batch of golf balls were making courses obsolete.

The use of rubber studs instead of nails was an option if using light golf shoes because of the difficulty in skilfully nailing light shoes.

Mr John J. Swan of 26 Waring Street, Belfast was offering a free golf club (Auchterlonie Special - Swan Brand) with every dozen Swan golf balls which were made of the finest Para rubber and encased in an indestructible cover.

Elvery's were promoting their 'Red Dot' and SS Gypsy balls for 1s 6d each and a pair of golf shoes for 17s 6d. A new golf suit could set you back between 25-45s. A used SS Gypsy recently sold for Stg£50 at auction.


Rule 21 was altered to reflect the fact that losing a ball didn't automatically mean losing the hole but that the penalty was now just stroke and distance.

Rule 23 the R&A rules committee decided to leave the Out of Bounds rule as was i.e. loss of distance but provided for the possibility of a local rule being adopted by the club:

Rule 23 may be altered by Local Rule in the following ways:-
(a) In Match and Stroke play, a ball may be played as provided in paragraph (1), with the addition of a penalty stroke. (b) In Match play, a ball which lies out of bounds may be treated as a lost ball.


Ladies' Home Internationals Turnberry Golf Club 12-13 May 1912

England won the Miller Shield with Ireland in second place.

Ladies Amateur Championship 13-16 May - Turnberry Golf Club

Mrs Glady's Ravenscroft (Bromborough) beat Miss Temple by 3 and 2 in the final after beating Cecil Leitch by 1 up in the semi-finals.

The Amateur Championship - Westward Ho.! 3 - 8 June 1912

Portmarnock's claim to the 1912 championship was rejected in favour of Westward Ho.! Royal North Devon and it was a forty-nine year old John Ball of Hoylake who won the championship at the 38th hole against Abe Mitchell. Both Captain H A Boyd and Lionel Munn had both been knocked out in the fourth round by Abe Mitchell and J Gordon Simpson by a margin of 3 and 2.

This Amateur Championship was somewhat marred by a partisan crowd who favoured Abe Mitchell as a man of the people and turned on Ball as a member of the idle rich. Abe Mitchell has previously been a caddie at Ashdown Forest to the age of sixteen after which he became a chauffeur in the service of Sir Abe Bailey. His quiet unassuming manner had already made him a lot of friends even amongst the idle rich.

Irish Ladies Championship 4 - 8 June - Portsalon

Miss Harrison won the championship again for her third successive victory. May Hezlet was one of the surprise departures in the earlier rounds but her sister, now Mrs Cramsie, made the final only to fall at the last hurdle.

Irish Close Championship 13 -15 May - Castlerock Golf Club

The entry for the championship was meagre by comparison to other years and the blame was laid squarely at having the venue in the North for two years running resulting in a poor representation from the South.

There was little to get enthused about at the championship and few spectators turned out even as the matches reached the final stages. A. H. Craig, the Belfast golfer, and N. Halligan who was playing out of Baltray would compete in the final. Craig had beaten John Edmundson in the third round as the latter's form deserted him following some great play in earlier rounds.

Irish Amateur Open Championship - Royal County Down Golf Club, Newcastle

In the 21st holding of this championship John Ball was knocked out by Douglas Grant, an American playing out of Mid-Surrey, in the fourth round on the 19th hole. A H. Craig, Fortwilliam, defeated Hon. M Scott from Royal Devon golf club by 2 and 1. Ireland's best hope Lionel Munn made it to the final four when he was defeated by Gordon Lockhart by a margin of 2 and 1. Munn had heavily defeated Lockhart two years earlier in the final. P.G. Jenkins and Lockhart played in the final with the latter running out an easy winner in the end by 11 and 9 in ideal weather conditions. Lockhart was only 25 and two years later went on to be a bronze medallist in the amateur championship.

South of Ireland Championship 6 September Lahinch Golf Club

Mr G. V. Boyd from Royal Troon was the eventual winner with a course record 75 beating Mr T S Jennings from Cork in an event that was played in blustery conditions. Jennings would be runner-up in the following two years.

Professional Golf Championships

The Irish Professional Championship - Castlerock Golf Club - 9-10 May 1912

Michael Moran (77,78,75,75) beat Pat Doyle (80,72,82,77) despite the latter's record breaking second round. Moran while consistent wasn't at his best and Patrick O'Hare was fifteen shots behind the winner on 320.

Moran is more like a brilliant amateur than the steadier professional. If one watches Moran playing he does not strike one as being so consistent in his play as a Braid or a Vardon but at times his brilliance equals even theirs..Moran merely requires far more play with the advanced professional than he is able to get now.

Moran went around Dollymount in 67 strokes (4,3,3,5,4,3,3,4,4,2,3,5,3,4,4,4,5,4) while playing with Cecil Barcroft and others.

At Portmarnock two tournaments took place on the 18 and 19 September. The first was the PGA - Irish Section which Michael Moran won with an aggregate of 160 with Harry Hamill just one shot further back. The next day saw the qualifying event for the News of the World Matchplay tournament. Michael Moran and Patrick O'Hare tied on 159 and the play-off took place the next day which Moran won by 77 to 82 despite some poor putting from the winner.

In the £400 PGA tournament at Sunningdale Alex Herd beat James Edmundson on the 20th hole but it appears that Edmundson should have won it on the eighteenth and only lost on the 20th when he knocked Herd's ball in while trying to negotiate a stymie.

The Open Championship June 21-25 1912 - Muirfield

Edward "Ted" Ray won The Open and the Irish Times describes him as:

"..a fine type of unspoilt professional hearty in his ways and of a benign nature. A very powerful man, he is a smidgen of the provincial type and it is a wonder he doesn't punch balls out of shape with his steel-faced wooden clubs. His iron play is strong an accurate, his putting good but most of all his heart is big. He takes things as they come, cheerfully and equably which is essential in championship golf."

Ray won the championship wire to wire never relinquishing his lead after scoring 71 in the first round. Vardon made a valiant attempt in the final round to recover an eight stroke deficit when he match Ray's first round score to take second place.

Ray's hallmark hard hitting philosophy - "the faster the clubhead flies through, the more likely is the ball to be cleanly hit" and his unorthodox swing and follow through together with his uncompromising approach made him prone to disasterous shots. With a reputation for long hitting he would often be asked by players how they could hit it further to which his response was "Hit it a bloody sight harder, mate!" Ray while not the great stylist of the game still knew something of its mechanics and was aware that nothing would muffle a golf shot like the reverse pivot. Ray would invariably be pictured in his trademark Trilby hat and pipe while make an unmerciful swipe at the ball and for all that there were few is equal for the length.

Hugh McNeill and Michael Moran played consistently and were never out of the top fifteen.


US Championships

US Amateur Championship

Jerome Travers won the American Amateur Golf Championship beating Chick Evans by 7 & 6 at the Chicago Golf Club. This was his third victory in the event and his drivers were iron-mongered rather than the traditional wooden drivers. Hilton the previous year's champion was defeated.

US Women's Amateur Championship

Margaret Curtis beat Nonna Barlow at Essex County Country Club by 3 and 2

US Open Championship

John J. McDermott at Country Club of Buffalo



Royal and Ancient Championship Records 1860-1980

The Rules History website



Vardon, Harry: How to Play Golf

Percy Adolphus Vaile: The Soul of Golf

Theodore Arnold Haultain: The Mystery of Golf





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