There were already some 100 new clubs in existence in Ireland when a group of leading industrialists and businessmen called a meeting to explore the feasibility of establishing a new course in Dunmurry. The meeting, held in the Courthouse in the town was well attended, and support for the idea was such, that the decision was taken to find suitable land to accommodate a 9-hole course. Other sites had been contemplated, at Balmoral and Lambeg, but as Dunmurry was the only stop on the railway line between Belfast and Lisburn, it was deemed to be the most accessible.
A site of 38 acres, bounded by Dunmurry Lane and the Glen River, with hedges at either end, was leased from Sir Robert Anderson for a period of 20 years, at an annual rent of £15, and for a fee of £54 the course was designed and built. The yardage for the course was 2,800, the longest hole measuring 480 yards. The course was opened on 15th May 1905, and one week later, Dunmurry Golf Club was affiliated to the Golfing Union of Ireland.
Some eighteen months later, at a Special General Meeting, approval was given for the acquisition of additional land, as some of the original course was to be surrendered for housing. Also, a new Clubhouse was needed closer to the course, and it was agreed to buy and convert a barn, the building, which served the Club for 75 years.
By 1920, the course was gaining in popularity with visitors. In 1922, a Ladies Section was formed, and expansion plans were discussed. The original lease was due to expire in 1925, but the members agreed to buy the land together with fields on the other side of the Glen River, thus creating a pleasant and challenging course of over 6,000 yards, which opened in 1927. Caddies became an added luxury for the golfers, many of whom had arrived by train and were spared the labour of carrying their clubs up a steep hill. In time, the caddies were in favour of forming their own club, and in 1930, the Fortfield Club came into being, its business being overseen by the Club Council. The Club still survives today but has no resemblance to the original membership.
In time, the members discussed the possibility of purchasing extra land, wanting to extend the course to 18 holes like all the other courses in the area. The outbreak of war in 1939 put all likelihood of an extension on hold. With fuel in short supply and the services of the tractor restricted, many of the caddies, wishing to earn a little extra, learned how to use a scythe and do maintenance work. The Club was instructed to give over 8 acres for the cultivation of crops. In reality, one 4 acres were used for this purpose, but sheep were allowed to graze on the other 4.
Two local golfers stand out for their achievements in the post war years. Jean Marks, nee Rice, was by far the best lady golfer of her time. She won the Ulster Scratch Cup ten times; she reached the Final of both the Irish and British Open Amateur Championships. She played for the Irish National Team on numerous occasions, winning her first cap in 1924 and her last in 1950. Max McCready really put Dunmurry on the golfing map. In 1949 he won the British Amateur Championship, held at Portmarnock GC. This led to selection for the Walker Cup, and the following year he made a valiant attempt to defend his title, losing in the Final. The Lounge Bar in the current Clubhouse is named in his honour.
In 1951, Sir Milne Barbour died. He had been one of those gentlemen who had met in the Courthouse in January 1905 to gather support for a golf course. He had been elected to the position of President, an office he held for 46 years. His influence and input to the Club are immense, not to speak of his generosity. It is the Barbour coat of arms, which was accepted as the Club Badge.
Since the course was laid out in 1905, many people had been responsible for its preparation and maintenance, but the person synonymous with its reputation was Victor Bruce. He had started as a caddy, then a course hand, before becoming Club Greenkeeper and Professional in 1957. While Victor put in endless hours bringing the course, especially the greens, to a standard enjoyed by members and visitors, his wife Doris provided the catering for the golfers. For 25 years they worked in tandem for the good of the Club, and retired with our move to a new home in 1983.
In 1968, the agenda for the AGM included item for the provision of a bar in the Club. It was the fourth time that the item had been put on the agenda. This time the motion was passed with a handsome majority. For many years, it was the members who served behind the bar, seemingly successfully, but the time soon came to employ the services of professional staff.
In the late 60s, rumours were about that development in the Dunmurry area could see changes to the golf course. Should it be taken from us, compensation would be for a 9- hole course. The decision was quickly taken to revamp the existing course, and a golf architect was able to accommodate 14 holes into the area previously occupied by 9. Our unique 14-hole course was opened in May 1973. At the same time it was agreed to look for the extra land needed to extend our course to accommodate the extra 4 holes. A piece of land belonging to the McCance family was bought, and in September 1977, Dunmurry became an 18-hole course.
In 1972, on 30th March, our worst fear became a reality. The bombers targeted our Clubhouse, and while there was no loss of life nor was the structural damage too great, it became apparent how vulnerable we were. Further security measures were taken, restricted parking, curtailed opening hours, and it was a difficult time for everybody. The Clubhouse was repaired and extended, and gradually the membership began to use the facilities more and more. Hardly had the last revellers left the Clubhouse to herald in the New Year of 1977, when the bombers hit for a second time. This time their bomb was much more powerful and the damage much more extensive.
It was evident that the building was beyond repair. Portacabins were quickly brought to the site, and for six years we lived in temporary accommodation. Planning permission to rebuild on the same site was refused, and it became clear that Dunmurry golf course was to become part of the Poleglass Development Plan, and that relocation was a reality.
Four alternative sites were suggested, some far removed from Dunmurry, others unsuitable for other reasons, but one best suited our needs, on Dunmurry Lane, within a mile of our former home. Our parting act to the old course was to win for the first time in the Club’s history the Ulster Cup, before we took up residence in the new Clubhouse on St Patrick’s Day 1983. The course was officially opened by Peter Alliss. In hindsight, the move had taken place too quickly, and the course was not ready for play. The reputation enjoyed by the old course was becoming tarnished by the underfoot conditions of the new lay-out. Drastic and expensive action was taken to improve the greens, most of which had to be re-laid, and drainage, which necessitated the installation of 9 miles of pipe work.
The Club participates in all GUI competitions, where it has enjoyed various degrees of success. The many years spent fostering the juvenile members have proved very fruitful, and the Juvenile Section for both boys and girls is thriving. The Senior Team continues to make its mark on Ulster golf, and we are proud to have in our ranks Provincial and International players. Darren Crowe is the player, who in recent years has brought great acclaim to the Club. The Ladies Section is well supported, and there are many young talented players amongst their members. With the support and commitment given to all its teams, the Club can look forward to further successes.
Since our opening in 1983, both clubhouse and course have seen many changes. In recognition of the work carried out in the past 24 years, the Club has won the coveted G U I awards of “Best Clubhouse and Course Presentation 2002”, and “Club of the Year 2003”. We now receive words of praise about the advancement made in the standard of the course, and the clerical staff, the bar personnel and the caterers all ensure that both members and visitors enjoy their time at Dunmurry Golf Club.
In 2010 Dunmurry Senior Team won the Belfast & District Trophy for the third successive year.
The team won their home leg by a 4.5 to 2.5 point margin, and required three wins to regain the trophy, they won in 2008, (v Lurgan) and 2009 (v Ballyclare). It was always going to be a hard fought match, against a Galgorm side, appearing in the competition for the first time, and had proven their ability, by reaching the final at the first attempt. Dunmurry were without their Barton Shield hero, Glenn McAuley, who had to pull out through illness, forcing Team Captain Tony Cassidy to change the line up. The Team consisting of Darren Crowe, Stephen Crowe, Gareth Abernethy,Patrick McGlone, Graeme Dickson, Noel Murray, Andrew Pigott managed to win the 3 matches necessary to retain the Trophy.
Finally after an eighty-nine year wait, all the ghosts have been laid to rest, after Dunmurry golfers, Darren Crowe, Stephen Crowe, Glenn McAuley and Patrick McGlone, captured the All Ireland Title in the Barton Shield Foursomes, for the very first time in the club’s 105 year existence.
Since 1921, a solitary green All Ireland pennant has hung in the hallway of Dunmurry Golf Club issuing echoes of a past glory, for all that cared to look upon it. The Junior Cup triumph, that year, represented a challenge to many within the club, and only once before, in 1983, have the club managed to reach the National Finals, after a victory in the Ulster Section of the same Junior Cup competition.
The year 2010 will now stand out as the club’s finest year after a simply astonishing team display at Castlebar Golf Club, resulting in a first senior victory.
In 2011 the Senior team played well to reach the Ulster final of the Barton Shield but had to settle for second place. The Senior Cup team lost in the Ulster semi-final and the Belfast and District team lost in the final to a very experienced Belvoir Park team that contained several Irish International players. It was another disappointing year for the higher handicap teams with no significant successes. During the autumn the bungalow formerly occupied by the Club steward was demolished creating room for 20 additional car parking spaces. A Klargester sewage treatment plant was fitted to ensure compliance with stringent discharge levels which are regularly monitored by the NI Environment Agency.
The familiar pattern for the Club’s teams was unfortunately repeated in 2012 with the senior team being beaten in the Ulster semi-finals of both the Barton Shield and Senior Cup. The seven man Belfast and District team were narrowly beaten by the eventual winners Shandon Park at the semi-final stage.
The Belfast and District team exacted revenge on Shandon Park the following year by winning a closely fought contest at the away second leg. LED lights were fitted throughout the Clubhouse to reduce our carbon footprint and reduce of electricity costs. A new path was installed from the 5th green to the 6th tee and sand storage bays were installed near the green keepers sheds.
In 2014 the Senior golfers lost in the Ulster semi-finals of the Barton Shield and Senior Cup but were also beaten by Banbridge in their first round of their defence of the Belfast and District Cup. The Irish Mixed and Holt Shield team were beaten at the quarter final stage with the Pierce Purcell team reaching the last 16 for the first time in several years. The teeing area for the par three 12th hole was completely redesigned provided a greater variety of teeing areas. A bunker at the par three 7th was also extended and reshaped to universal approval.
The Belfast and District team had their first match in April 2015 and survived a scare against a talented Bangor team (8-6). Carnalea provided the opposition in round 2 and a convincing victory (10 ½ – 3 ½) meant that Dunmurry played Kirkistown Castle, winning (8-6). The fourth round tie against Belvoir Park, who beat Dunmurry in the 2011 final, was a close affair with Dunmurry running out winners in 9 of the 14 matches. The semi-final against near neighbour Balmoral was a very close match but the foundations for victory ( 9-5) were laid in a strong away performance, winning at least 3 matches on the 18th green. Shandon Park were again our opponents in the final, Dunmurry won three matches in the away leg and by virtue of winning four matches in the home leg the match was tied. Competition rules meant that players in the last match had to continue down the tie hole. Dunmurry prevailed by virtue of a par on the 19th to collect the trophy for the fifth time in eight years.
The Barton Shield team were beaten in the Ulster semi-final by a very strong North West team who won the Ulster Final. The Senior Cup team qualified at Hilton Templepatrick but were beaten by Ballyclare in the next round.